Seeing the upcycling light

Upcycling makes a lot of sense: who wouldn’t want to add value to raw materials while giving them an extended life? Especially when the results can be visually stunning as well as useful.

Have you seen the upcycling light? Here are some great recent examples that are guiding the way forward in responsible design.

Let’s start with an almost improbable material: brown paper. In bag form, it’s used around the world. What happens when you collect 25,000 of these bags is seen in the interior of New York store OWEN. Designers Tacklebox used the bags in specific fashion, curling them up one wall into a floating ceiling. The bags open up towards the shop interior, which gives the impression of a light, airy space.

Not only that, but the bag openings echo the bricks on the other side of the shop. This is a great touch, as it brings the bags and bricks into balance, providing a great back-drop (or bag-drop?) for the store’s wares. Neat.

Next up, leave it to an architect to get the most out of a material. From old road-maps to fizzy drinks tabs, anything is up for upcycling in the projects of Allison Patrick. The materials are turned into lampshades, which is a clever application as the lighting from within adds a sense of style to the objects. It’s aesthetically impressive, and very functional, design.

Not all upcycled projects require such instant practicality. Sometimes, they’re just beautiful to look at. The SOL Grotto, by Rael San Fratello architects, is a case in point. It’s part building, part installation, and a beautiful wall of light. Made using left over glass tubes, it demonstrates a novel kind of window, one which transmits light, rather than permitting vision. The glass façade channels light through a 24 by 57 array of tubes, about 3 cm across and 50 cm long, into a small cabin in Berkeley’s Botanical Garden in California. The tubes are hollow, making them lightweight, and refraction means that light is emitted in 1368 bright rings. For an impression of the garden, including the glass tube wall, click here.

These are just a few examples. Luckily, upcycling is slowly gathering steam and these projects help show why. Have you seen great material upcycling projects? Share them in the comments below!


More information (and images) via: Tacklebox, Owen, Rael San Fratello, Berkeley botanical garden and Allison Patrick.