Nina Tolstrup, a London-based designer and the founder of Studiomama, has learned a lot from the simple shipping pallet. In 2006, she designed a small line of furniture made from reclaimed pallets, which included a couple of chairs, a stool and a floor lamp. The designs have been so popular that she now offers up the plans for a mere £10 so that you can make your very own. The Pallet Project is more than just a way to create easy and affordable DIY furniture - it's also an agent for change. Tolstrup's designs reuse materials and offer a way to build your own goods through self-reliance and creativity.
Tolstrup developed her line of pallet furniture while participating in TEN, a dialogue between ten London based designers that was set up with the intention to respond to sustainability issues in design. The results were the Pallet Project, which initially consisted of Low Pallet chair, a High Pallet chair in different sizes, a stool and a floor lamp.
As Tolstrup explained to us in an email, "The Pallet Project is sustainable, accessible and an agent for social change. The furniture is made from disused pallets - a source of cheap, often wasted, wood. It takes self-assembly to a new level of affordability; the raw materials are easy to find and the instructions simple to follow. Since its inception the project has unfolded in many unexpected ways."
Her designs were so popular, Tolstrup decided to share the plans rather than just sell furniture, so now she sells the design plans for the Pallet Chair Lo, Pallet Chair Hi and the Floor Lamp.
Nina says, "This was in the spirit of the project taken to a global level: designing for the global market but with materials sourced locally." Over time buyers of her plans have sent her pictures of their creations, some of which she shares on the Studiomama website.
The Pallet Project has also encouraged her to incorporate sustainability, recycled materials and a waste-minimizing ethos throughout the rest of her work.
Tolstrup has also donated the rights to manufacture the low chair to Buenos Aires organization, Amistad o Nada, and the money raised from the sales also fund better machinery for the furniture production.