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What do a temporary bar by Measured Architecture, a lounge chair by Layer and a home accessories collection by Second Nature have in common? They all demonstrate the creative possibilities of post-consumer materials. While experimental in nature, these projects show that upcycling can actually be aesthetically compelling as well as ecologically responsible.

Restock bar by Measured
A temporary bar made by upcycling materials
A temporary bar made by upcycling materials

Each year, IDS Vancouver commissions an architecture studio to conceive a central bar on the show floor. These installations are meant to attract design-fair visitors with envelope-pushing ideas that communicate a unique vision. For the 2019 edition of the show (which took place last week), Measured Architecture really hit the nail on the head – without using any nails – with Restock, a surprisingly moving homage to upcycled materials.

The firm worked with Powers Construction and Unbuilders, a company that salvages building components from renovations and demolitions, to create a house-shaped enclosure realized with sheets of black building paper and red PVC and furnished with a wood-plank bar and brick stacks for bar-height tables. Taken together, the palette represents a “visual account of all materials that are typically removed from a standard Vancouver 33’ x 122’ lot.” All of these elements were slated to be repurposed once again after IDS Vancouver wrapped.

Canopy Collection by Layer x Raeburn
Furnishings made by upcycling ex-military parachutes
For Rimadesio, Sustainability Means More than Good Intentions
Aiming to further decrease its environmental impact by upcycling its packaging waste, Rimadesio continues to push the envelope.

A limited-edition launched in RÆBURN’s new Central London shop during last month’s London Design Festival, Canopy transforms surplus ex-military parachutes and aircraft brake parachutes into four colourful rocking chairs and two translucent screens. The series, which includes a lounger design wherein the upholstery is woven through the frame in a flamboyant manner reminiscent of webbing, demonstrates both the material’s practical and artistic possibilities as well as its unique tactility.

The expressive steel frames used in the series are manufactured by Allermuir. As the designers explain, “The collection uses the strict geometry of steel frames as a base on which to experiment with innovative and forward-thinking recycled parachute upholstery.” That playful experimentation brings together the fashion-world sensibility of RÆBURN with the industrial design know-how of Benjamin Hubert, whose Layer brand is committed to devising sustainable solutions.

Second Nature by The New Raw

The New Raw, a design studio based in Rotterdam, partnered with the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation in Athens to create Second Nature, a collection of seashell-like objects and tableware made of discarded fishing nets. “Considered to be the deadliest ocean debris and a major environmental threat, these nets remain on the seabed for years, trapping fish, mammals and other sea creatures,” the designers explain.

The research project shows how the so-called “ghost nets” can be harvested as a raw material for a circular economy. Collected in Greece, the plastic is processed by The New Raw’s recycling lab (after being sorted by type: nets, ropes, floaters and weights) and then extruded into beautifully textured vessels. The final results are inspired by the natural patterns of edible seashell species like Mitra Zonata and Strombus Persicus, but they also recall objects made by hand with more natural materials, such as yarn, and with analogue technologies, like stitching.

3 Beautiful Designs that Elevate the Practice of Upcycling

Salvaged building blocks, ex-military parachutes and ghost nets are the raw materials of these stunning recent projects.

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