The best work on display at New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair this year came from student designers. BVD Collective, a student project from Appalachian State University, proved this beyond a shadow of a doubt by debuting a stunning collection of lighting fixtures made from recycled plastic utensils. Made from 100% post-consumer plastic utensils (yes, that means dirty forks collected from waste-bins), the ‘Waste Not’ line of lamps highlights just how elegant and inspired recycled design can be. The gorgeous Go Go Ghost table lamp (shown above), by Corey Daniels, is made from 121 recycled plastic knives collected over the course of countless BVD group lunches from a fried chicken restaurant.

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Comprised of Bryce Katsahnias, Zach Thomas, Hugh Owings, Bobby Ward, Corey Daniels, Russ Hagan, and Donald Corey (professor), the Black Valley Design Collective (BVD Collective) was formed as a response to requests from students of Appalachian State University’s Industrial Design program for some outside-of-school projects. The first BVD Collective meeting helped drive the first project: while meeting over buffalo wings in September 2007, the members were struck by the amount of disposable utensils being wasted with every meal.

This inspiration from trash ultimately inspired the Waste Not project: take a worthless, used piece of plastic trash and morph it into a valuable luxury design object, such as a chandelier. The group took up collecting used utensils from tables – often evoking quizzical looks from other restaurant patrons – and began to test the plastic’s limits by melting, bending and stretching the pieces to see what forms were possible. Meeting twice a week over chicken, and eating more wings than are healthy to consume, BVDC designed and fabricated a collection of light fixtures made from nearly 100% post-consumer waste. We found this collection to be more inspiring than most of the sleek corporate furniture design on display at ICFF this year – and it came from a student after-school project. We hope this will serve as inspiration for bigger furniture companies to get a bit more creative with their approach to materials. Congratulations on a stunning project BVDC!

Baroque Jelly by Donald Corey, and Black Pollen by Zach Thomas

+ BVD Collective + Inhabitat’s ICFF 2008 coverage