Now here’s an idea that we love. Re-purposing objects through design – reincarnating waste as something different and useful, also known as upcycling. It’s an idea that has been around forever in developing countries like Mexico and India where those living in poverty simply take what is available to them and use it to create entirely new objects to serve their purposes. Unlike in the Western world, waste is seen as a freely available and very valuable resource.
Whilst many of us in Australia are not driven by economic necessity towards repurposing, we can still look to this idea as a brilliant sustainable design strategy for product life and an effective way to reduce our ecological footprint.
There are a few young designers around toying with the idea of giving second life to items. It’s a good way of challenging the status quo, asking us to question our understanding of how everyday items serve us. The work of young German designer David Olschewski is a fine example of how re-purposing doesn’t have to ignore aesthetics – we love his peg light below.
More art for arts sake than design practicality and purpose but UK artist Robert Bradford creates incredible life-size and larger-than-life sculptures of humans and animals from discarded plastic items. Bradford says he likes the idea that the pieces all have a past history and that they also pass on a “cultural” history as each of the pieces represents a point in time. It’s a way of imagining that can be applied to any re-purposed object.
Do a quick search of the internet and there really is an endless array of creativity in re-purposing out there. These images are some of my favourite that I hope will inspire you to do some re-purposing around your own home.