From scrap heap to style file

With a lit­tle imag­i­na­tion, waste plas­tics can be trans­formed into new fur­ni­ture

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CLASSIFIEDS/FEATURES - BY KIM COOK 5)& "440$*"5&% 13&44

Re­cy­cling has be­come the norm in many com­mu­ni­ties. The de­tri­tus of our daily lives plas­tic, glass, metal and pa­per - makes its weekly trek to pro­cess­ing plants across the coun­try.

Much of it gets made into new ver­sions of it­self: Your empty corn tin might end up as your next bean can. Smelt­ing brings glass jars back to life. Newsprint and wrap­ping come out of a pulpy stew as new pa­per.

And the home decor in­dus­try, too, is find­ing in­spi­ra­tion for new fur­nish­ings in the re­cy­cling boom. Large fur­ni­ture com­pa­nies and smaller stu­dios are ei­ther re­pur­pos­ing their own pro­duc­tion waste, or sourc­ing dis­cards and left­over ma­te­ri­als to make new goods.

It’s a smart way to of­fer sus­tain­ably pro­duced prod­ucts, en­cour­age de­sign R&D, and per­haps cut in­dus­trial dis­posal costs.

Plas­tics are a sig­nif­i­cant part of this ini­tia­tive. Ikea prod­uct de­vel­oper Anna Granath, col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Stock­holm, Swe­den-based stu­dio Form Us With Love, came up with a new cov­er­ing ma­te­rial for a kitchen cabi­net door made from pro­cessed plas­tic bot­tles, and the door it­self is made of re­cy­cled, shred­ded wood. A rich matte, char­coal-hued fin­ish be­lies the mod­est price of the Kungs­backa cab­i­netry.

“Sus­tain­abil­ity should be for many people, not just for those who can af­ford it,” says Granath. “Our am­bi­tion is to in­crease the share of re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als in our prod­ucts.”

Even the left­over plas­tic film used to wrap fur­ni­ture pal­ettes is ground into pel­lets, to make the Skrutt desk pad.

Glass scraps and re­jected pieces from one of Ikea’s sup­pli­ers are re­cy­cled into mar­bled vases. Cre­ated by Iina Vuorivirta, they’re part of Ikea’s PS 2017 ac­ces­sories line. (www. ikea.com )

Emeco, a fur­ni­ture maker in Hanover, Penn­syl­va­nia, teamed with de­signer Philippe Starck on the Broom chair, a sleek, com­fort­able stack­ing chair that’s made of 75 per cent waste polypropy­lene and 15 per cent re­claimed wood fiber. The name is a play on the chair’s ori­gins.

“Imag­ine”, says Starck, “a guy who takes a hum­ble broom and starts to clean the work­shop, and with this dust he makes new magic.”

Emeco isn’t new to the re­cy­cled ma­te­rial/new fur­ni­ture game. Their alu­minum Navy chair, com­mis­sioned dur­ing World War II, has been made of re­cy­cled alu­minum since the 1940s. The ma­te­rial with­stood the rigours of war­fare and sea air. The com­pany has even col­lab­o­rated with Coca-Cola to turn soda bot­tles into plas­tic ver­sions of the chair. (www. emeco.net )

Ikea is pre­mier­ing its own plas­tic and wood-fiber chair early this year. The Odger will come in a range of colours and wood fin­ishes.

Dutch de­signer Dirk Van­der Kooij makes his Melt­ing Pot din­ing ta­bles out of dis­carded plas­tic toys, video­tapes and com­puter parts. The heated com­po­nents meld into ab­stract pat­terns, with no two ta­bles be­ing the same. Van­der Kooij also re­cy­cles his test pieces and waste plas­tics, ex­trud­ing them into new chairs, cab­i­netry and even mu­sic speak­ers, us­ing an enor­mous in­dus­trial ro­bot arm. He cre­ated the arm him­self, and won the Dutch De­sign Award for it in 2011.

Van­der Kooij thinks we have a mis­placed no­tion that plas­tics are only cheap and throw­away. In fact, trans­form­ing them can cre­ate new and en­dur­ing de­signs: “Re­cy­cled ma­te­rial is unique, and has a his­tory that can lit­er­ally be seen in the prod­uct,” he says. “That gives par­tic­u­lar beauty and lay­er­ing.” (www.dirk­van­derkooij.com )

An­other Nether­lands-based de­signer, Tamara Or­jola, found new life for dis­cards from the tim­ber in­dus­try.

“There’s more to the tree than just wood; pine nee­dles ac­count for 20 to 30 per cent of its mass,” she says. So she came up with the idea of cook­ing the nee­dles into a ma­te­rial she calls “for­est wool,” which can be made into biodegrad­able tex­tiles and fur­ni­ture. www.tama­raor­jola.com

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These mar­bled vases are made of glass scraps and re­jected pieces from one of Ikea’s sup­pli­ers. Cre­ated by Iina Vuorivirta, de­sign­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers are find­ing cre­ative ways to re­cy­cle waste prod­ucts and castoffs.

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This is one of the con­tem­po­rary ta­bles that Dutch de­signer Dirk Van­der Kooij makes by melt­ing down old plas­tic toys, video­tapes and com­puter com­po­nents.

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