Monday, 29 March 2010

Tale of New York

Yesterday LA, today it's New York. Thanks to my designing, blogging, teaching friend Jo of Soupa creative network who brought this to my attention.

The GUN reclamation project is the venture of ken & dana design, who've decided to take an instrument that inherently represents violence and reframe it as a symbol of non-violence. With materials sourced from gun manufacturers, they transform gun parts into jewellery; with each sale, proceeds are donated to a buyback program to get more guns off the street. Through the program, the DA’s office and the NYPD partner with local churches to offer $200 bank cards for any firearm turned in at one of their one-day events. Since 2008, 5,700 guns have been taken off New York’s streets.

As an example of upcyling, I really like it because not only does it reuse durable materials that would be extremely energy-intensive to recycle but it also prevents these components from being used in violent endeavours. Decommissioning + reappropriating = happy new world. It's definitely time to think outside of the Glocks.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

LA story

My mom heard something cool on NPR recently, which is not surprising because NPR is filled with cool things and my parents listen to NPR pretty much from the moment their eyes open in the morning.

The story was about Recycle LACMA, a grand exercise in upcycling that you shouldn't miss. Pay a visit to see a 1960s Korean wedding coat transformed into a canteen cover or a textile from Uzbekistan made over into a travel pillow. They've made butterfly nets, beekeeper's hats, earmuffs and more. Any old ways, here's what the project has to say for itself:
"On January 14th, 2009 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced that it was deaccessioning more than 100 items from its costumes and textiles collection. Once carefully collected, catalogued, and cared for, these items have now been cast back out in to the world. What will happen to them? Like any other useless item, they will need to be recycled or disposed of.

Recycle LACMA is a project of Los Angeles-based artist Robert Fontenot. At three separate auctions he purchased over 50 items deaccessioned by LACMA and is now trying to find new uses for these otherwise unwanted items."

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Fruit cocktail

Beautiful bespoke furniture by award-winning designers Kay + Stemmer might set you back a few bob. But beautiful home accessories by Kay + Stemmer upcycled from silkscreened plywood fruit boxes will not. The pair initially came up with the concept last year when they crafted some lovely stools, called Tutti Frutti, out of upcycled fruit boxes for the Food with Thought Event at Borough Market during London Design Festival.

We've blogged about this work before, but till now there was no way to buy it. So roll up roll up! For a limited time you can visit their website if you want a way to support the upcycling cause. Your efforts will be richly rewarded too. The Flash animations are funny, and the two designs are each limited to an edition of 100. Each piece comes signed and numbered, and will cost you no more than £106.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Sometimes I come across a mention of the Boex brothers in the design press, and other times I read about their surfing. Today I'm fixated on their inventive creation using redundant bits borrowed from sailing.

A design company needed a blind for their skylight, so Boex 3-D Creative had the bright idea to hoist an upcycled sail to block out the sunlight when the glare got too much. The client, a sailor himself, is understandably smitten with the solution.

Piece work

ReVampt – which creates items only made from reclaimed and vintage textiles – launched their new collection of patchwork pieces just last month. The range, which includes throws, cushions, cot quilts, doorstops, bags, recovered chairs and stools, footstools, table runners, place mats and even a peg bag, coincides with the Victoria & Albert museum’s Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition which opened this week. As part of the quiltastic activities at the V&A, ReVampt owner and designer Sarah Baulch is running two stitch-centric workshops.

Denim features prominently in the work. Sarah explains, “Denim is such a great fabric to recycle. It is so hard-wearing with jeans and jackets normally only going at knees and elbows, leaving the rest of the item in great condition to turn into anything from a throw to a bag. People get so attached to their denim wear and often hate throwing it away; this is a great way of keeping hold of that beloved pair of jeans. Some of the items in this collection are actually made from denim stretching back thirty years, and with denim coming in such a wide range of colours, shades and weaves, every item in the collection is truly unique.”

Sarah will be working at the “Patchwork Social” quilt making workshop at the V&A 1st and 2nd May, as well as running the Re-Working Textile Workshop on 3rd May.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

(Un)do me

This comes from the braniacs at Conceptual Devices:

"A hoodie is not just a hoodie. In a world full of stuff, smart items should be transformable, editable. They should engage the possibility to be transformed into something else. We do not need a new object. We rather need to get rid of some of them, to reduce the complex network of things around us. Just undo it is a collection of reversible objects that could be made from a hoodie at no cost."

Someone there certainly has their head screwed on right. If you watch their videos and peep the how-to images, before you know if your hoodie will become: a backpack, a laptop sleeve, a pillow, a shoulder bag, a backpack... In the world of Conceptual Devices, less is indeed much, much more.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Decked out

Skateboards are meant to be durable, and like many durable things this starts to be a bit of a liability once they wend their way into the landfill. Becky Hickey ain't gonna let that happen though. She's rescuing decks and turning them into iPod covers, clutch handbags, earrings and cufflinks. Tic-tac your way over to where you can view and buy her wonderful woody work.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Seeing red

Ok so vintage on the Oscars red carpet is nothing new. But upcycled fashion? I think that is something to write home about. So does Livia Firth, who is in a bit of a better position to do so. As wife of Colin Firth, she's going to see that red carpet up close and personal - and she's going to do it in a dress by From Somewhere, which uses odds and ends of fabrics to create high fashion.

But do not take my word for it - hear it from Mrs Firth herself via her blog post on the topic.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Get shirty

Plastic bottles into fabric shirts you say? What a clever idea. Which is why the big boys Nike and Coca-Cola are now getting behind it. This summer all nine of the World Cup teams sponsored by Nike will be wearing jerseys made from upcycled plastic bottles, and fan shirts will be cut from the same cloth. In all the initiative will keep 254,000 kg of polyester waste from winding up in a landfill. Coca-Cola's Drink2Wear programme has kept 5 million PET bottles from entering the waste stream. Best dressed in a bottle we think.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Barbican; can you?

We've read about Urban Upholstery on this blog before, and we've also gained exposure to the wonderful world of the Eco Design Fair. Here they are once again, but they've brought a host of friends with them.

The Barbican hosts a pop-up Eco Design Shop this weekend, so do yourself a favour and be sure to attend. Here are some of the masterminds of the upcycling genre you're likely to encounter:

Found Inc – Revamped furniture

Osian Batyka-Williams – Recycled home accessories

Stella Corrall – Lightshades & coasters made from recycled plastics

Sparrow Kids – Recycled felt Kits for Children

Telabags – Recycling bins made from recycled banners

Urban Upholstery – Revived found furniture

Eco Design Pop-Up Shop, Ground Level Foyer, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS; Sat 6th March: 10am - 9pm and Sun 7th March: 10am - 4pm