Turning something discarded into something useful and beautiful is one of the most rewarding things a designer can do. We're delighted to see that more emerging designers are integrating upcycling into their work, proving that new design doesn't have to deplete resources. At this year's Milan Design Week, we spotted some ingenious upcycled designs from around the globe -- from a table made from keyboard keys to a stunning chandelier made from old coat hangers -- these cleverly repurposed materials will charm and inspire you to make your own.
Softie Wanted Seats by Victoria Ledig and Mandy Roos
Made from upcycled foam and bungie cords, these playful seats were crafted by two Dutch artists, Victoria Ledig and Mandy Roos. One’s obsession with the beautiful and the other’s inspiration from the ugly and the awkward, come together in this experimentation rooted in play.
Recycled Cardboard Furniture by Corvasce
Recycled corrugated cardboard becomes elegant, functional furniture and accessories in these pieces by Corvasce. Spotted in the Brera Design District at Milan Design Week, these future-thinking designs exemplify all the gorgeous work we can do with cardboard.
Wire Hanger Chandelier by Lascia La Scia
Look closer — this mesmerizing chandelier is made from a grouping of simple wire hangers. Lascia_La_Scia debuted this masterful work of art at Tortona as part of Milan Design Week. That’s some elegant repurposing.
Apple Keyboard Table by Vicolopagliacorta
This table top by Bolognese design firm Vicolopagliacorta brilliantly incorporates upcycled computer keys from Apple laptops. Each key needs to be removed, trimmed and cleaned before being assembled into this impressive mosaic. The clever example of reuse was spotted at Designersblock.
Bori Throne by Gunjan Gupta
Inspired by Indian bicycle vendors, the Bori Throne by Gunjan Gupta is made up of old bicycle parts, encrusted in chrome and textiles. It was spotted at La Triennale di Milano as part of Milan Design Week. Born in Mumbai, Gupta launched her studio Wrap where she creates furniture and accessories alongside traditional craft communities in India.
time is TIME by Architect Tsuyoshi Take
Architect Tsuyoshi Take designed this dazzling installation of upcycled watch parts for describes the 2016 SuperStudio Design Show in Milan. As light reflects off 120,000 watch main plates, a glittering effect surrounds the viewer. Tsuyoshi Take said, “Time contains many individual moments, including the one we call Now. All these single episodes are condensed in an ever changing flow. That is what we know about time. We represented this idea by using 120,000 main plates.”
LEGO Mosaic Table by Vicolopagliacorta
Bologna’s vicolopagliacorta created this very artful reuse of a favorite childhood toy. The vibrant colors and geometric pattern results in a dynamic, one-of-a-kind and utterly playful piece of furniture. Vicolopagliacorta’s design was sighted at Designersblock 2016.
From Pipe to Knife by Amos Fraiberg
From Pipe to Knife by Isreali designer Amos Fraiberg transforms common copper pipes into fine flatware for the table. The pipes were crushed, polished and soldered into their new forms. This appeared in the YES exhibition of Israeli designers at Tortona as part of Milan Design Week.
Man Made / Nature Made by Galina Arbeli
Also spotted at the YES exhibition of Israeli designers at Tortona were these natural stone cups. Entitled Man Made / Nature Made, artist Galina Arbeli combines ceramic cups with natural stones from the seashore of Israel.
twintsugi by Schemata Architects
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a brilliant lacquer dusted with gold, silver or platinum. Using precise 3D scanning and modeling, these stunning twin ceramic cups by Schemata Architects are a flawless example of how elegant upcycling can be. Instead of dusting these with gold, the designer has joined two cups together in a “joy of joining.”
The Wake Stool by Ori Ben Zvi
Wood offcuts and scraps find new life in Ori Ben-Zvi‘s stool. His collection The Wake was inspired by the idea of reincarnation as well as recycling. It also debuted in the YES exhibition of Israeli designers at Tortona.
Pescador Lamps by Gabriel Lichauco
These glimmering golden Pescador lamps by Filipino designer Gabriel Lichauco are made from laminated capiz shell. His nature reclaimed design was exhibited at Triennale as part of Milan Design Week.
Spoon Lamp by Marcello Garifalo
Spoons were artfully upcycled for the base and shade of this light by Milanese designer Marcello Garifalo. It was displayed as part of the viU Eco exhibition in the Zona Santambrogio Design District.