Gallery: ARTEK 2ND CYCLE FURNITURE with Tom Dixon


At our recent Reclaiming Design event, we were thrilled to see such amazing work and general interest in the integration of reused and recycled materials in the design process. But super-kudos go out to Mr. Tom Dixon, who spoke at our Inhabitat-sponsored HauteGREEN event about his recently-debuted 2nd Cycle line of furniture that is literally bringing vintage modernist furniture back into a new market.

Because of Alvar Aalto and Artek’s legacy, and more specifically their wide distribution of home and commercial furniture in the 1930’s – Artek, with Tom Dixon’s leadership, is re-collecting and re-issuing the old pieces (from old factories, shipyards, even flea markets) and introducing them as a new line of beautifully aged pieces. We love the idea that as a consumer, you could buy something “new” to you, that is already embedded with such a rich history and design legacy. Hats off to Artek and Mr. Dixon for pushing the envelope on recycled and sustainable design initiatives. Also check out Artek’s new Bambu line we recently wrote about.

+ Artek 2nd Cycle (click on 2nd Cycle link)

From Artek’s website:

Artek’s visionary design found its expression in breakthrough technology to create pieces as timeless as the Picassos that used to hang above them in the shops of Helsinki. The dints, the scratches and the patina tell their never-ending story. And no matter where they’ve been or the place they’ll end up next, one thing is certain: they’re never out of time nor out of place. As Alvar Aalto once said, “Nothing is ever reborn, but neither does it totally disappear. And that which has once been, will always reappear in a new form.”


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  1. John August 27, 2007 at 10:40 am

    It is a good idea. Lets relate it to a different industry, the electronics industry. Nokia for example take back some of their phones and refurbish and re-sell the products do they not? I don’t see a problem with Artek is using a similar model, except that its with furniture. There is a 2nds and recycled “Designer” furniture store up the road from my university operating in much the same way and that hasn’t produced the “fad” for recycled and distressed furniture that fenomanalogy is scared of. It also might be prudent to point out that the company Artek is about producing old Alvar Aalto furniture and selling it to the current market and so reselling old Aalto’s designs fits in perfectly with their marketing and rhetoric.

  2. fenomanalogy June 16, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    How much MORE waste and energy would we save if, instead of Artek buying back its own used furniture and then selling it to its customers, the customers themselves were to scour the second-hand shops and garage sales for these pieces—saves a bit on transportation energy, at least theoretically, no?

    Does this “new line” of furniture not promote the consumer’s search for “that one piece that I just MUST have”? What happens if Artek runs out of used Aalto stools, for instance—do we go back to buying the newly-made ones, rather than settling for another, just-as-good-if-not-as-classic second-hand stool? Jill, I know this sounds like splitting hairs, but since you advocate 2nd Cycle as representationally significant, then I feel I must argue along the same lines.

    Also, could this not popularize a fashion of distressed, second-hand furniture offered by “first-hand” companies that leaves a troubling door open to greenwashing? I don’t think this would be Artek’s fault, but unless people aren’t careful, this could end up like those ridiculous pre-torn and -dirtied jeans; people buying something new that’s made to look well-used and old, all to pass off as more authentic.

    Would I be wrong in suspecting the furniture company as trying to muscle in on second-hand retail?

    Finally, if Artek sells its 2nd Cycle line at the same (high) price (or more) as its new furniture—and I’m only speculating here, since I can’t find the prices anywhere—when they probably bought it for $5 from someone who doesn’t even know who Alvar Aalto is, that is frankly insulting to their customers. Let furniture companies continue to design and manufacture useful and beautiful new products and try to find ways to do so more sustainably, recognizing that more and more they will be competing with often perfectly adequate used furniture.

  3. Jill June 15, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Guys-

    I feel like some of you aren’t really paying attention to the details of this “Second Cycle” system and understanding why it is groundbreaking for a design company to be buying back its own recycled products….

    Rik Martin and “Fenomanalogy” – this isn’t anything like Goodwill or Salvation Army. This isn’t a charity shopping selling donated used goods in order to raise money for charity. Not that what these charities do isn’t fabulous commendable work – but it is totally different than both the system and the reasoning behind Second Cycle.

    This is a a high-end, iconic design brand BUYING BACK it’s vintage pieces and then reselling it to those who appreciate the history and patina that comes with the age on these classic pieces. This not only helps to elevate the appreciation for the old, for the already used, which is an extremely important part of “sustainable design” – but it also shifts’ Artek’s production cycle from always making NEW PRODUCTS, to instead collecting and refurbishing their old products – saving energy and keep this stuff out of the waste stream.

    How many other iconic design brands, Rik and Fenomanalogy, do you know that are doing this? I’ve never heard of any others, which is why we thought this was worth remarking on. Think about it this way – if IKEA and Herman Miller and DWR and other design brands like this all did the same thing – just think about how much waste and energy we would save.


  4. fenomanalogy June 15, 2007 at 10:38 am

    I agree with Rik and Tyler, there’s nothing really “new” about used furniture. I love second- and third-hand furniture too, but that Artek collects these pieces themselves and then re-sells it as their own line is transparently gimmicky, and frankly, even decadent. Is this what design firms are coming to?

    The more I think about this, the more problematic it is…

  5. Rik Martin June 15, 2007 at 2:51 am

    whats the big deal, second hand furniture and charity shops have been doing this for years.
    There the unsung heroes of recycling.

  6. i ketut agus June 14, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    i love that it’s not repaint, it shows the process of existence, define the re- or even 2nd-cycle being, i love it

  7. Hun Boon June 14, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    “2nd Cycle” sounds much more palatable than “Recycled”. A bit of nice marketing there.

    Just like “used cars” vs “pre-owned cars”. If we can get over people’s resistance to buy used goods, then that’s a positive step forward.

  8. Tyler June 14, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    While I love the idea of keeping these chairs and stools out of landfills, I would much rather see artek take these pieces and create new designs with the disassembled components. If this is such an extraordinary thing artek is doing, why haven’t Goodwill stores been given any praise? They have been selling 2nd and 3rd generation furniture for years. Not exactly groundbreaking.

  9. Jennifer June 14, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing; Sadly I want all of it now. Well, maybe not the red colored stuff. Very cool.

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