Around the World in 80 Chairs: The Tyred Chair, Cape Town – South Africa

A combination of Roy Lichtenstein, South African slang and upcycled design. Yameng Li has reimagined a simple recycling idea into a work of art, by painting this unique tyre chair in collboration with Tyred, at the Design Indaba Conference 2010 in Cape Town.

Tyred Chair by Yameng Li

Tyred Chair by Yameng Li

Yameng Li painting the Tyred Chair

Yameng Li painting the Tyred Chair

Around the World in 80 Chairs: Recycled Patchwork Silk Footstool, Margate UK

Patchwork Silk Footstool by Zoe Murphy, made from un-picked wedding dresses. The prints are inspired by dense 1950’s formica patterns and are hand dyed using environmentally friendly ink.

London Design Festival 2012 Best Picks

Since the London Design Festival started last Friday exhibitions are popping up all over the capitol. From over 300 hundred different events to choose from it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are the best picks for recycled related design events and exhibitions.

The V&A, the hub of the LDF has several sustainable design exhibitions, including E-side and the Evolutionary Wall. From 14-23 September at the V&A.

Tent London is regarded as the most cutting-edge and progressive trade exhibition during the London Design Festival. Housed in the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, it has a huge range of independent and fascinating designers exhibiting their work. Tent runs from 20-23 September.

100% Design is the largest and most prestigious single-site design event in the UK, it hosts a huge range of brilliant design talent from all around the world. From the 19-22 September at Earls Court Exhibition Centre 2, Warwick Road, London, SW5 9TA.

Decorex is a huge design show held at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, this is for those with expensive taste, showing high end international interior design exhibits. From 23-26 September at Royal Hospital Road, London, Greater London SW3 4SR.

At the DesignJunction the sustainable exhibition 2nd Cycle  will feature Artek, a Finnish furniture company, which seek to highlight the issue of conscious consuming and authentic design through an upcycling project. Their philosophy promotes traditional craftsmanship with modern interventions. “Nothing old is ever reborn but neither does it totally disappear. And that which has once been born, will always reappear in a new form.” -Alvar Aalto, one of the founders of Artek. A sale of second-hand vintage furniture run by Fernandez & Wells, will be available to buy at twentytwentyone. From 19 – 23 September at The Old Sorting Office New Oxford Street.

Mirror by Joe Gibbs courtesy of Designers Block

Designersblock at the Southbank Centre has a selection of sustainable furniture and lighting, featuring UTREM LUX, Polliander, Joe Gibbs and numerous other great designers. From the 20-23 September at the Southbank Centre.

Sustainable Furniture from LA: Blake Avenue

Joshua Tree Credenza by Blake Avenue

Blake Avenue in LA has a wide selection of tables, shelves and cabinets made from reclaimed wood. The products are simple, elegant and beautifully crafted.

Shenandoah Desk by Blake Avenue

Most of the materials that go into Blake Avenue furniture is recovered from architecture that dates back 80 to 150 years and are hand picked and reworked to a high standard.

Krisel Dresser by Blake Avenue

Blake Avenue seek to preserve precious materials with design and craftsmanship that will allow their pieces to last another lifetime.

Tall Lake Tahoe 3 Drawer Dresser by Blake Avenue

Every piece has its own unique characteristics carrying their own stories showing the  the complex and lengthy lifecycle these timbers, carrying with them a history of use and production that will never be repeated.

Shenandoah Hybrid Cabinet by Blake Avenue

Blake Avenue gives these old and sturdy materials a new lease of life by incorporating them into contemporary designs and restoring them to a quality that is built to last.

Eckso Bench by Blake Avenue

Around the World in 80 Chairs: Recycled Aluminium Chair, Pennsylvania – USA

Emeco SEZZ Counter Stool made from 80% recycled aluminium.

Reclaimed Furniture from LA: MFEO

MFEO is a love story between its founders, Van and Claribelle, and their shared love for great design, vintage objects and the growing desire to lead more sustainable lifestyles.

Industrial Grater pendant lights

Slatted Cyclone side table

The pair from Los Angeles seek to reduce the environmental impact of production by primarily using repurposed materials for their designs.

Slat & Dowel reclaimed coffee table

Stump & Pins coffee table

They have a great selection of coffee tables and side tales as well as repurposed lamps.

Skate Sconce wall lamp series

Factory Task lamp & sconce

Upcycling, Downcycling, Recycling – What’s the Difference?

When I first heard the term ‘upcycle’ I thought people were talking about biking up a hill, when someone tried to explain the meaning of this new term I thought why not just stick to the word ‘recycle’. So is ‘upcycling’ really a word? If it is what is the difference between ‘upcycling’ and ‘recycling’??

Let me explain a bit about the meaning of upcycling. Generally there are two ways to recycle – upcycling and downcycling. Upcycling aims to make use of existing materials, reusing these in a way that will add value without using up new raw materials.

This is the opposite of downcycling which involves extracting valuable materials from the product to create a lower quality result. Recycling on an industrial scale usually consists of the latter, but upcycling is becoming more popular especially among young artists and designers.

I am even getting the bug at home, converting old pieces of furniture into shelving or books into chair legs. My flatmate obviously stops me at a point to prevent the house looking like a flea market, but you get the idea..

I’m trying my best at some DIY and creating some artistic pieces of practical furniture. My personal favourite is our very own upcycled toilet/plant pot.

As the upcycling trend continues to spread, from furniture to fashion design, I am beginning to wonder whether I will ever have to shop again. I keep finding beautiful things in my own home I can make use of to make something quirky yet functional.

Working on the things you already have doesn’t only limit what you throw away but it also improves what you choose to keep.