When eco designer Barley Massey decided to expand her East London studio and shop, Fabrications, she didn't trek to a big-box home improvement store for supplies. Instead, she's been transforming waste from local businesses into functional interior products for more than a decade, turning men's neck ties into cushions, and weaving recycled bicycle inner tubes into seating.
From the beginning, Fabrications, on popular Broadway Market, has showcased creative use of reclaimed materials, including a storage wall custom made by Green Works from discarded office furniture. For the rear extension and basement retrofit, owner Massey carried her core values of reuse, community and collaboration into the design. Working with Delvendahl Martin Architects, her brief included using green building materials and incorporating reclaimed, recycled or low-energy-consuming elements whenever possible.
The rear extension and downstairs workshop space, dubbed The Imaginerium, incorporates laminated timber for the skylight, fibre cement for the exterior cladding, and a green roof. Generous skylights and the extension’s distinctive triangular shape allow maximum daylight to reach the basement. A fabricated steel staircase leads to the lower-level workshop, with space under the stairs for storage of materials and a weaving loom.
For the spacious new kitchen, Massey worked with Out of the Dark, a non-profit that uncovers the hidden potential of old furniture and young people, by training and employing disadvantaged youths to recycle and restore vintage furniture. By upcycling sturdy materials like wooden fruit crates, they combined sustainable design with practical storage for materials and sewing equipment.
The retrofit provided a prime opportunity to put long-stockpiled materials to good use. In the workshop space, vintage wooden school chairs were transformed with custom seat and back cushions, incorporating fabric scraps, sweaters, and bits of family embroidery that Massey had collected over the years. The ample under-counter storage is cleverly hidden by a curtain made from over a hundred reclaimed men’s ties.
British designer Dominic Crinson, known for his digitally printed ceramic tiles, contributed hundreds of pieces, all either factory rejects or recycled from old projects. With the expanded new crafts space, the plan is for The Imaginerium to get more people thinking creatively about waste, and to save even more material from the landfill.