Far and away our favorite exhibit at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair was . With one dollar to work with, students from the Pratt Institute of Design in NYC were challenged to design something worthwhile. Through the design process not only did the students from the Department of Industrial Design learn the meaning of a dollar, but many incorporated cast-off items upcycled into new and intriguing designs. 80 undergraduate and graduate students entered the contest and 15 of the best designs were chosen to exhibit at ICFF this year. Here we highlight our favorites for their eco-friendly design, creative reuse and their affordability.

DRIP PLATE by Catherine Merrick

The Drip Plate by Catherine Merrick is an ingenious reuse of an antique ceramic plate. Originally featuring a winter scene in blue, Merrick renewed the thrift store find by dripping wax onto the plate and then sandblasting the rest away to create a new design. The diner will ponder while cleaning his plate, what the design used to be. The cost depends on the price of the plate and patience of the shopper.

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This fabulous lighting fixture is made from a thrift store find and a plastic bottle from your recycling bin. Cute and simple looking, thislamp would make for an easy DIY project. Sara Ebert took the sleeve of a sweater found at the Salvation Army, felted it and stretched it over an apple juice plastic bottle to create this fantastic lamp shade.


The Metamorphosis Lighting Fixture by Sukmo Koo and Young Taek Oh is made from inside out-egg cartons shaped into a continuous wound up organic shape. Inspired by the mobious strip, the twists and turns in this egg crate lighting fixture provide many interesting spots for light to shine out from.

SAW SCISSORS by Brian Perisco

Take one dull saw blade from a grinding shop, a laser cutterand some connecting pins and you’ve got yourself a whole bunch of scissors. While they may not have the ergonomic rubber handles, these scissors by Brian Perisco make excellent use of a discarded material. This one saw blade had enough metal to make 14 blades to make 7 pairs of scissors.

THE PAPER BAILOUT BAG by Rebecca Marshall

Even though this fabulous designer bag looks like it is leather, it’s actually made from paper grocery bags and other paper products. Curious to see how far the value of free paper could be stretched, Rebecca Marshall oiled, heat pressed and crumpled grocery bags to make them softer, more leather like and water repellent. Then she reinforced the inside with newspaper and paper towels, added newspaper and silk handkerchief trimmings to create a beautiful designer handbag.

ORANGE VOTIVE CANDLES by David Steinvurzel

Dried orange peels are commonly used in potpourris for their fresh and light scent. When coupled with soy whey, they make adorable little votive candles. David Steinvurzel took one of the peels from an orange and formed soy wax to rest in the bowl of the peel. The wick for the candle is actually part of the peel that stems into the orange sections. Eliminating metal, petroleum wax and cotton wicks, these little orange votives are not only cheap to make, but smell divine as well.


What to do with old piles of design and architecture magazines? Turn them into a stool of course! Aging periodicals get a new life as Li-Rong Liao’s stools and mini tables. To make them she raided her neighbors’ recycling bin and folded and glued the magazines into intricate and delicate designs to create these fabulous pieces of furniture. These magazines make an easy transition from the tops of the coffee tables to the functional furniture that supports future mags.