SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): Recycling is a concept as old as trash itself. By now, we’re used to seeing useful materials, such as glass and paper, reprocessed into lower-grade versions of themselves, and discarded products upcycled into entirely new designs. (Emeco’s 111 Navy chair, made from 111 used Coca-Cola bottles, is a good example.)
But today we’re witnessing the emergence of a new recycling trend, driven by the luxury design industry. These versatile materials, substitutes for conventional woods, plastics and stone, come in sheet or tile form, ready to be cut, shaped and manipulated by architects and fellow designers.
Perhaps because they’re being developed by the very designers who are meant to use them, rather than by the manufacturing industry, they’re decidedly decorative and attractive as well as strong, economical and easy to use. They bear all the attributes of the materials they might substitute and in some cases, more.
One of companies at the forefront is Really, a Danish company that transforms transform used textiles into a sheet material similar to plywood. This past April, the brand revealed its debut collection, a series of benches by designer Max Lamb, at the Salone del Mobile design fair in Milan. Really’s warm reception and critical success proved not only the creative potential of these new materials, but also that there is a healthy appetite for them in the design community.