The Third Function: Reclaiming the Discarded and the Invisible


Photo by Alan J. Crossley

The LA based multidisciplinary artist, Carolina Fontoura Alzaga (better known as Caro), has created the CONNECT Series of spectacular, cascading, and seemingly traditional chandeliers. These chandeliers however, are not made of glass or crystal but have been carefully crafted using discarded bike parts.

Carolina Fontoura Alzaga Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Carolina Fontoura Alzaga Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Caro professes that she became inspired to create the series when she started exploring the “third function” of materials. She describes the lifecycle in three stages of discarded materials being transformed and reclaimed into something new –

1. they serve their original function
2. their original function becomes obsolete and they become ‘trash’
3. they cease to be ‘trash’ as they are transformed into something entirely new

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Through this process she seeks to transform objects deemed to be excess waste by “effectively reclaiming the ‘discarded’ and ‘invisible’ to create something far more powerful and commanding.”

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

As a result the “chandelier itself becomes a metaphor of reclaimed power.”

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

The CONNECT Series chandeliers are influenced by both modern and Victorian styles, as well as by bike culture, and a strong belief in the concept of sustainability and environmental preservation.

“The idea for ‘The CONNECT Series’ began from seeing pots and pans hung from a makeshift pot rack made from a bicycle rim. It inspired me to make a mobile made from a bike rim, bike tube, and bike gears. The result was lovely but too simple and it was the semantic mistake of calling it a bike ‘chandelier’ and not a mobile that led me to make a proper chandelier.”


Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Caro has a unique gift for recognising value and functionality in unwanted objects, allowing these to serve a purpose even if it greatly differs from their original use.

“In her art and her life, Caro works to find beauty in the discarded, and challenges the necessity of the new.”

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

The Wingin’ It Floor Lamp: Pianos, Nuts and Bulbs

BRC Designs features modern studio built furniture by Benjamin Rollins Caldwell made from sustainable materials. Their latest pieces include the Wingin’ It Floor Lamp .

Wingin' It Floor Lamp

Wingin’ It Floor Lamp

Inspired by the numerous defunct pianos collecting dust at second hand stores and charity shops, Caldwell sought to use these piano parts as a material for his furniture.

Wingin' It Floor Lamp close up

Wingin’ It Floor Lamp close up

After creating the Korobeinski Chair and the Hammer Chair from the piano keys and the hammers, the Wingin’ It Collection incorporates the wood planks on the back end of the piano keys.

Wingin' It Floor Lamp close up

Wingin’ It Floor Lamp close up

The Wingin’ It Floor Lamp shows how versatile lighting structures can be, instead of a conventional single bulb and lampshade, several bulbs are wrapped around the wooden structure to emit a unique lighting effect. The lamp also uses 15 energy efficient LED bulbs, altogether consuming less energy than one 70 watt incandescent bulb.

Wingin' It Floor Lamp

Wingin’ It Floor Lamp

Each plank is attached to the other using wing nuts and bolts, and dubbed the Wingin’ It Collection which refers to not only the wing nuts used in the structure of the piece, but also the haphazard manner in which the whole collection is pieced together.

Wingin' It Floor Lamp close up

Wingin’ It Floor Lamp close up

Vintage Lamps

Sydney’s Newtown has a great range of vintage shops. Here are some beautiful vintage lamps we saw browsing around last week.



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.

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

September – Month of Design and Inspiration

September is a great month for design and architecture, with the start of the London Design Festival tomorrow, as well as Part 2 of the International Architectural Showcase and London Open House allowing people to look around London’s most significant buildings.

The London Design Festival will be hosted at numerous venues all around London, including the Southbank Centre, the V & A. It will feature over 300 events and exhibitions demonstrating the best of design from all around the globe. The designers range from fashion, ceramics to landscape design and architecture.

Keiichi Matsuda’s Prism at the London Design Festival

The wide variety of events allow you to look at vastly different areas of design and see how these may relate to or complement each other. One of the main pieces to look out for is the immersive rubberised space in the centre of  Trafalgar Square. The space is created by BE OPEN together with the London Design Festival. It plays with the idea of “design you can’t see” (mock up shown below).

“design you can’t see” in Trafalgar Square

The main hub of the festival will be the V&A, watch the video below to see what events and exhibitions the museum will be hosting.

UTREM LUX: Recycled Lighting

UTREM LUX is a series of lamps designed by DeGross Design & Innovation, a design studio based in London. DeGross Design & Innovation focuses on products that are both sustainable and cost-effective.

They created these lamps from reused glass bottles that had been discarded behind their studio alone with wood offcuts donated by their next-door neighbours ‘W. Hanson wood merchants’.

Each lamp is unique and has been made by hand. UTREM LUX will be launched at this year’s Designersblock in the Southbank centre as a part of the London Design Festival this September 2012.

Here is a quasi-instructional video showing how the lamps were made.

Filmed and edited by Alexander Duffner
In collaboration with Avi Aloni and Mor Bakal