We at Inhabitat are huge supporters of the trash-to-treasure approach to design. Using repurposed, discarded, and recycled materials is not only eco-friendly and gives new life to seemingly useless material, but provides an interesting critique on modern consumer-based culture and individual value systems (see our recent Reclaiming Design panel at HauteGREEN). In that spirit, here are our five favorite chairs made from trash, reused materials, and other such refuse.

1. A LA LATA LOUNGER by Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos
Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos’ sleekly styled lounge chair is a feat of both recycling and hand-crafted construction. Meticulously assembled using 1739 recycled aluminum can tabs, Hoyos’ unique lounge chair incorporates traditional handicraft techniques with cutting-edge contemporary design.

2. RD4 CHAIR by Richard G. Liddle/Cohda Designs
Combining green design sensibility and the freehand aesthetic of an architect’s sketch (RD stands for ‘roughly drawn’), Richard G. Liddle’s magnificent RD4 Chair is made from 100% wasted plastic, which yields a very comfortable seat in a super-cool form.

While most of us green-minded consumers have hopefully switched to reusable shopping bags by now, plastic shopping bags continue to be a huge source of waste. But Ryan Frank’s Inkuku chair (which means “chicken” in Zulu), turns these pesky bags into design material using a traditional African craft technique. The result is a very brightly colored (and especially green) seat.

4. HUMAN NEST CHAIR by Emily Pilloton
One of the eye-catching green pieces from HauteGREEN 2006, Emily Pilloton’s Human Nest chair takes bird-based construction to a comfy and oh-so-eco-friendly level- the bowl shaped chair is hand woven and tied using a bamboo frame and dozens of yards of scrap fabric.

One of our BKLYN Design favorites, this darling little stool by Uhuru is constructed from off-cut scrap wood pieces, all held in place using a recycled bike wheel. We love its tongue-in-cheek resemblance to a tree-stump, and love that the wood is recycled even more.


or your inhabitat account below


  1. david raful June 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    hum, how come they didn’t take a look at NEULEATHER’s GUM CHAIR if inhabitat put it as a highlight on ICFF’09? and its completely made of re-used materials :(

  2. CidKid June 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Milk crates? Cardboard? The pieces above are high class… which comes with a look, a feel, a design, and yes, a typically high price tag. Accept that. I don’t see many people throwing dinner parties and entertaining beautiful women with cardboard and milk crates.

    “Hey baby, why don’t you pull up a milk crate while I chill this BOX of wine in the hefty bag of snow I recycled.”

    Furthermore, women can spend $10,000 on an EYE SORE Prada purse with terrible color schemes where the only ‘hand craftsmanship’ is from the 8-year-old that got paid 2 cents to sew it together. And yet you’re bulking on a designer chair under 2k? Get real.

  3. indiandelhipunjabi June 11, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    nice chair

  4. simon seasons November 3, 2007 at 7:25 am

    I love this section. I have made some large comfy bench seating out of discarded bicycle inner tubes. I cut the valves off and tied them around a single sheet of corrigated steel with industrial strapping and then bolted them to a recycled hardwood frame.
    Very durable out door furniture except that insular types with nothing better to do than sit around on old paint buckets picking lint out of belly buttons, can pull the rubber strips out from under the steel straps, but I am working on it for when my bicycle recycling friend give me another two thousand inner tubes. Can I send you some pictures of them.
    I also make bookcases and tables out of recycled timber and steel. Latest project is a table the frame of which is made of old 1940’s riveted sheet steel floor joists, super lightwieght and super strong. The top is rejected remilled fijian blackwood billets glued into a 9 foot by 4 foot slab. My favorite stuff is refining my Japanese joinery to reinterpret old ideas into new forms and old materials into new functions at the same time. Just love it ’till I kick the bucket.

  5. lala October 10, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    answering to SmartAZ: the poin is that if you have nice flat or office or any other space you dont want to put there milk can to sit on. or ask your guests / clients to sit on a paint bucket. the poin is to make somethin out of already used materials and still looking nice. otherwise you could ask what the point of design ? one chair had been design time ago and should be enough. no ? so , we are human beings and like changes, or like giving certain atmosphere to the space. that is the point.

  6. SmartAZ August 1, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    I can sit on a paint bucket or a milk crate with no effort, no cost, and no waste, and I have seen more practical furniture made from cardboard boxes. So what is the point of this project?

  7. p.j. doran July 26, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    how is the market for these products? as a designer and fabricator of furniture made from salvasge, i really like the chairs that are shown. i do tend to side with the comment about the tab chair, it is a great idea, but why divert time and energy to something when it can be best recycled….anyways back to the original question- are they selling? hopefully they have found a market- we need to keep thye ideas and creations flowing.
    thanks, p.j.

  8. Blas Garcia Manjarres July 6, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Carlos Alberto,

    Desde que vi el primer diseño de esta silla, tuve la seguridad que estaria dentro de uno de los mejores diseños contemporaneos en el que has puesto mucha imaginacion y arte.


  9. george July 6, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    I am shocked by the naviete and crassness of Vicki’s comments….art is about creativity, statement, and experience, not about scraps and thrift. So called “scraps” are just like pieces of wood or tiles for mosaics or tubes of paint…they are elements that are crafted to express something that inspires, with little value within themselves. I understand everyone having different tastes, of course, but whatever happened to manners (eyesore?) and an understanding that art is not about the cost of materials. Vicki, set aside the sense of victimhood and allow yourself to be inspired, it might feel good.

  10. Emily July 5, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Hi Vicki,

    As the designer of the “eye sore” Human Nest Chair, I’d like to respond to your comment about pricing, as I think it’s an important one and one that comes up a lot for designers using reclaimed materials. As in art, much of good design is about the concept, labor, and execution. The fact that the materials are what you consider “worthless” don’t really matter, as it takes time and effort to accumulate them and transform them into their final designed form. And as for the pieces being “custom made with any color or color combination,” you’re proving my point exactly. It’s important for me as a designer to cater to the needs of an individual, while also sticking to my own values of using reused materials. Sometimes it takes me quite some time to find the proper colors, but this is part of the process. Also there are times when a client already has their own scrap fabric to contribute, say, leftovers from an interior design project or upholstery piece, that they want to integrate into the chair. This is all part of a) designing more personal, engaging objects, and b) working with a client to make sure they are getting what they want. I realize $1800 sounds like a lot of money, but come on, nice side chairs at Crate and Barrel cost that much, with no concept or handcraft behind them.


  11. vicki July 4, 2007 at 9:43 am

    yes i have to say i agree with andrew n. re: the zip ties on the A La Lata Lounger. thats my main issue with this chair.

    the human nest chair is not only an eye sore but at the price of $1800+, sure, i appreciate that its hand woven but setting that aside, i wonder how the price can be justified given that the artist claims to use scraps of fabrics while also saying it can be custom made with any color or color combination.

  12. Katie Konrath July 3, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    What a great idea to use waste material to make chairs. Plus, the chairs look good and have a fun feel to them.

  13. Andrew Netherton July 3, 2007 at 10:12 am

    OK, I take a BIG issue with the A La Lata Lounger being here. Sure, it’s made from recycled pop can tabs, but it’s hardly “eco-friendly” by any design. First, aluminum is the most recycleable (and most profitably so) metal around. Why trap a perfectly good profitable recycleable inside so much plastic?

    Secondly, zip ties?!? Just one look and you can see that most of the zip tie (or cable tie, tie wrap, or whatever you want to call it) isn’t even being used, it’s dangling uselessly out the back. Sure, you get to pretend to be a hedgehog, but that’s a lot of non-recycled plastic to use to hold your pop tabs together.

    It’s a cool chair, it does have recycled content, but to me it is a very inappropriate use of the recycled material, and very much wasteful because of the huge number of zip ties needed to build it. Weave it together with dental floss or ribbon cable from discared e-waste and I’ll be impressed.

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home