Joost Gehem’s Transformation & Distribution Centre for Abandoned Household Items

The Eindhoven based designer, Joost Gehem, stumbled upon an eco-friendly design process almost by accident. While he had a long standing interest in recycling and sustainable life styles, he came across re-purposing materials from an unusual angle.

Joost Gehem stools

Joost Gehem stools

His research into recycling waste brought his attention to statistics affecting our society, such as the number of deaths, divorces, bankruptcies and the amount of elderly people needing to move to retirement homes. When he considered what may link these statistics, he came to an interesting conclusion – household items. These often tragic and life changing events often result in discarded or unwanted objects, as houses are sold or cleared out.

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The original and end product

Joost started to wonder what happened to these objects and where they ended up. After searching the internet he realised he could obtain the entire contents of a house that people no longer wanted. Many of these unwanted objects were the result of deaths and divorce, but he was also interested in the people who simply wanted to change or update the interior of their homes.

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He says:

“I could hardly believe how cheap a complete interior could be and how much of it you could obtain in this way. I began to see it as a material and I envisioned a little factory in my mind. What if I could create products out of this unwanted material. “

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Close up bottom of the stool

He saw this material as almost a raw material that would be re-purposed and remoulded into a different form, changing its appearance and consistency to give it a new life cycle.

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The upper mould

Ready to press

Pressing the stool

At first he was a little concerned about what the grieving friends or family think. Whether they would welcome the possibility that objects once belonging to their deceased friend or family member would be broken down into a pulp and be reused as a material to create a new product.

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The mould

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Tool

However after presenting his idea to the son of an elderly widower from whom he was buying the entire 1960s interior of a house, he realised that many people would welcome the reuse of these objects. Reshaping and transforming these old pieces of furniture and household items, gives them a new meaning and a new purpose when they have become obsolete.

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Taking the top of stool out of the mould

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Joost working on one of his stools, spinning it around.

Joost explains:

“So some people think it’s about recycling or up-cycling etc. I can’t disagree with that, but I did not start this process as an engineer, I’m not qualified to do that. I looked at the process from a different perspective, I focused on the powerful life events like death, divorce, etc. these things happen a lot all over the world. Most importantly I can relieve the ‘owner’ of the product in a considerate/air/appropriate way and create a new usable product ‘life cycle’. That’s my first priority.”

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Joost believes in the importance of improving our lifestyle in general, changing the way we live and consume. His products not only provide a solution for unwanted objects resulting from a change of circumstances, but they also provide a way to gain value from something that has possibly been deemed to be worthless. By creating a new product he can change the aesthetics and the purpose of the product itself giving it an completely new lease of life. For more information visit the Transformation & Distribution Centre for Abandoned Household Items.

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BRC Designs: Re-think, Re-purpose, Re-invent

Benjamin Rollins Caldwell, the founder of BRC Designs describes his passion for creating his pieces and affirms that this talent has been a part of him from an early age.

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“Design and Conceptualization has always come naturally to me… For me, the physical act of making an object is just as important as the cognitive evolution of the concept.”

He adds “Luckily, it’s also something that excites me.”

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BRC Designs is a modern studio furniture company that uses the expertise of a number of highly skilled craftsmen from different backgrounds.

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The company makes limited edition objects, one-of-a-kind pieces, and caters for bespoke projects. Benjamin works directly with the materials from the inception of an idea until its completion.

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He emphasises his love of diversity in the design process.

“If I were forced to work with one material, in one style, using only one process, I would be completely miserable.”

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One of the things that struck me immediately about BRC Designs is it’s eclectic style, Benjamin explains that he is energised by the variety of projects he’s involved in. It appears that multitasking is one of his key strengths, as he successfully manages to balance numerous projects while constantly coming up with new ideas.

“Typically I have five to ten pieces in process at the same time and up to twenty concepts that I am developing; therefore, when I am in the studio working on a piece and come to a point where I need to make a design decision or need a break, I can simply move across the room and focus on a different project.”

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He gets his inspiration from second hand/vintage shops, salvage yards and abandoned warehouses. Sometimes these objects act as a basis for an overall design idea and other times they are used as the raw material for the piece.

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He focuses on re-purposing objects and materials to give them a new beginning and a new function.

“My objective is to use materials in such a way that I completely transform their original purpose into something new and innovative.”

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Benjamin achieves this through repetition, arrangement and stripping materials down to their raw essence. He claims that more often than not, the most fascinating aspect of a material lies under its exterior surface. I love tearing things apart to see what interesting parts I can find and wield into something completely unique.

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He aims to create unique pieces by salvaging interesting parts of large items or integrating smaller objects and seeks to dismantle one thing to rebuild it as something entirely different.

“Everyday I am surprised by what materials I stumble across and what ideas pop in my head.”

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BRC Designs is based in Inman, South Carolina and is represented by Industry Gallery, Washington DC

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