Every day, piles of newspapers are discarded and recycled into new paper creating a huge surplus of paper. During her study at the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2003, Mieke Meijer devised a solution to use this surplus of paper into a renewed material: NewspaperWood.
NewspaperWood shows the reversal of a traditional production process; but rather than creating paper from wood, this is the other way around. This process is actually coming full circle, returning the paper into its original form after it has been discarded. When a NewspaperWood log is cut, the layers of paper appear like lines of a wood grain or the rings of a tree and therefore resembles the aesthetic of real wood. The material can be cut, milled, sanded and generally treated like any other type of wood.
Mieke and Vij5 (Arjan van Raadshooven & Anieke Branderhorst) first met in 2007. When Vij5 discovered NewspaperWood in Mieke’s portfolio, they were so impressed that they decided to collaborate almost immediately.
After presenting NewspaperWood for the first time in 2008 at the Dutch Design Week Eindhoven (NL), Vij5 and Mieke continued developing the material and its production processs. In addition, they invited a group of talented young Dutch designers to experiment with NewspaperWood to design their first product collection.
Vij5 emphasise that NewspaperWood does not aim to be a large scale alternative to wood, nor does it seek to transform all paper waste into a new material. The central theme in the project is ‘upcycling’ with which they seek to show how you can change a surplus of material into something more valuable by using it in another context.
Although printing techniques for newspapers are nowadays efficient enough to reduce the test prints and first unusable newspapers to a minimum, there still is enough material available. Next to that ViJ5 use ‘yesterday’s newspaper’: the newspapers that are printed but not sold and will turn out to be old news the next day anyway.
To actually upcycle the newspapers into new wood-like material, Vij5 (temporarily) take the newspapers out of the already existing and efficient cycle of paper-recycling. Vij5 believe that it would be ideal to be able to bring their own waste material back into the circle again.
Therefore they use a glue to construct the material which is free of solvents and plasticizers, as these chemicals would make it more difficult to recycle. Using these environmentally friendly methods, it is not only possible to put any sawing and sandpapering waste back into the circle, but also to make the NewspaperWood easy to recycle.