Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Triumph of Trash Pt. 1

Face it. We inhabitants of this little experiment known as Earth face a dilemma: While demand for our finite resources is ever increasing, the supply is diminishing rapidly. What to do?

In a word, garbage: The one resource at our disposal that may be just about inexhaustible. But if garbage is ever to manifest into a kind of design revolution — if not for our survival, then at least for our continued lifestyle — that responsibility may rest squarely on the shoulders of designers. Before any revolution can take place, though, paradigms will first need some major shifting. Designers will need to hack into the market's hidebound conceptions on materials. A new language will need to be born from re-usability, a language that will speak native to consumers.

Seth Godin, renowned marketing guru, suggests that any artist looking to make an impact needs to do this: "See the rules. Keep most of them. Break one or two. But break them, don't bend them." In other words: Acknowledge tradition, don't worship it.

Tord Boontje (pronounced Boonj), an industrial product designer perhaps best known for his HP Minis, is attempting to do exactly that. His Rough and Ready Collection not only breaks rules of conventional style and construction for designer furniture, but in the process he both democratizes interior and furniture design while radicalizing the language of usable materials.

The manufacturer for this Rough and Ready collection is the user. The materials are common and accessible and the cost is negligible (recycled wood, found material, tape, etc). And the design comes with a considerable pedigree, owing more than a nod to the work of Enzo Mari. The furniture may be only slightly more expendable, and probably no more difficult to assemble, than much of what's sold at Ikea.

Below, a day bed made from the remnants of a white picket fence.

Construction plans for the chair below are offered free on the Rough and Ready web page.

Tord Boontje's Transglass series: Glassware made from refashioned wine bottles.

The Taekwondo chair, below, by Dutch designer Jonas Lutz, was created with yellow martial arts belts. While the birch of the frame isn't recycled, and the chair itself has no pretensions of sustainability or low cost, it's design is certainly influenced by design that does. In this way the work is much in the same spirit as the disheveled chic of Clarke and Reilly.

Designers Humberto and Fernando Campana created this chair in response to the recycled crafts they'd seen in favelas (slums or shanty towns) in Brazil. The irregular pieces of wood used are glued and nailed together.

Chilean designer Alexandra Guerrero creates thread from recycled cigarette butts. The spun filters create a thick knitted-like cable: Urban wool.

Thanks to the treehugger blog for the heads up.

Recalling Frank Gehry's experiments with corrugated furniture (1969 - 1973) is this recycled cardboard chair built in the Gomi style below.

Below, a Capellini Love end table from designer Stephen Burks. The table has a paper structure and core and then covered, paper-mâché style, in shredded magazines and then treated with adhesive and a hardener. Each piece is assembled by hand in South Africa.

Close-up of the texture:

A black enamel-coated packing crate reimagined as a console.

Before the Wang Guangyi painting on the wall, bundled fabric bound as chairs.

This Ayako Uenishi chair is formed from recycled steel pipes and rubber base boards, fixed together with reclaimed nuts and bolts. The chair weighs 250 lbs.

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