upcycle /ˈəpˌsīkəl/ (verb)

to reuse discarded objects or materials to create a product of higher quality or value than the original
oxford dictionaries

have you ever updated your interior by reupholstering or refinishing your furniture?

do you think that reusing antique or vintage furnishings is a component of green design?

some of the most innovative contemporary furniture designers are reinventing, rethinking, and repurposing worn or broken materials or objects to create eco-conscious furnishings.

i first heard about bokja while my husband, bob, and i were living in london.  in 2000, bokja began upcycling mid-century modern furniture by reupholstering it in antique or vintage levant or silk road textiles or tapestries.

could this beirut design duo have inspired the current craze for ikat and suzani textiles?

bokja | eames chair

bokja | scrambled egg chair

photo credits bokja

instead of vintage textiles, james plumb is rejuvenating broken and abandoned furniture by removing the upholstery and replacing it with cast concrete cushions.  to symbolize the marriage of the materials, the british husband and wife design team named the works after wedding vows, like to love and to cherish, to have and to hold, or for richer for poorer.

do you think that rh (restoration hardware) discovered james plumb before designing their deconstructed furniture collection?

james plumb | armchairs and sofa | to love and to cherish | concrete stitches series

photo credit new york times

james plumb and bokja are both represented by one of my favorite design destinations, spazio rossana orlandi, a gallery and store in milan that promotes some of the most innovative contemporary furniture designers, such as studio tord boontje, piet hein eek, fernando + humberto campana, and maarten baas.  studio tord boontje and piet hein eek created their rough and ready and scrapwood collections by upcycling salvaged materials.

studio toord boonje | rough and ready chair

piet hein eek | scrapwood wallpaper

photo credits studio tord boontje and piet hein eek

and, the campana brothers and maarten baas created their sushi and hey, chair… collections by repurposing discarded fabric and furniture.

fernando + humberto campana | sushi chair | 2002

maarten baas | hey, chair, be a bookshelf! | white

photo credits fernando + humberto campana and maarten baas

even hermes, the luxest of luxury brands, is upcycling.  their petit h creative lab, established in 2009, recreates one of a kind objects from leftover or imperfect materials.  so, an imperfectly stitched kelly handbag becomes a clock, an imperfectly molded vase becomes a pair of bookends, or an imperfectly printed silk scarf becomes the ‘veneer’ for a chest of drawers.

petit h is so exclusive that it is only available at hermes boutiques during traveling flash sales.

petit h | chest of drawers

photo credit ecouterre.com

have you started upcycling, yet?

click here to read ‘next best thing’, an article about upcycling by lucia van der post in the 7 july 2012 how to spend it magazine section of the financial times newspaper.

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