Chairs, speakers, even kitchen cabinets are being made from plastic and glass waste, and the results are cool and chic.
Recycling has become the norm in many communities. The detritus of our daily lives — plastic, glass, metal and paper — makes its weekly trek to processing plants across the country.
And the home décor industry is finding inspiration for new furnishings in the recycling boom. Large furniture companies and smaller studios are either repurposing their own production waste, or sourcing discards and leftover materials to make new goods.
Plastics are a significant part of this initiative. Ikea product developer Anna Granath, collaborating with the Swedish studio Form Us With Love, came up with a new covering material for a kitchen cabinet door made from processed plastic bottles. The door itself is made of recycled, shredded wood.
A rich matte, charcoal-hued finish belies the modest price of the Kungsbacka cabinetry, expected out this month.
“Sustainability should be for many people, not just for those who can afford it,” says Granath. “Our ambition is to increase the share of recycled materials in our products.”
Also at Ikea, the leftover plastic film used to wrap furniture palettes is being ground into pellets to make the Skrutt Desk Pad ($10).
Glass scraps and rejected pieces from one of Ikea’s suppliers are recycled into marbled vases. Created by Iina Vuorivirta, they’re part of Ikea’s PS 2017 accessories line due out this month.
Emeco, a furniture maker in Hanover, Penn., teamed with designer Philippe Starck on the Broom Chair ($225 at emeco.net), a sleek, comfortable stacking chair that’s made of 75 percent waste polypropylene and 15 percent reclaimed wood fiber. The name is a play on the chair’s origins.
“Imagine a guy who takes a humble broom and starts to clean the workshop, and with this dust he makes new magic,” says Starck.
Emeco isn’t new to the recycled material/new furniture game. Its aluminum Navy Chair, commissioned during World War II, has been made of recycled aluminum since the 1940s. The Navy Chair with Coca-Cola ($330 at emeco.net) is a collaboration that turned soda bottles into plastic versions of the chair.
Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij makes furniture out of discarded plastic toys, videotapes and computer parts.
Vander Kooij also recycles his test pieces and waste plastics, extruding them into new chairs, cabinetry and even the Snowmen Speaker Set (about $6,868 at dirkvanderkooij.com).
Vander Kooij thinks we have a misplaced notion that plastics are cheap and throwaway. In fact, transforming them can create new and enduring designs. “Recycled material is unique, and has a history that can literally be seen in the product,” he says. “That gives particular beauty and layering.”