Tag Archives: upcycling

People and Places – TIDF


The Brothers Dressler – twin woodworkers, Jason and Lars Dressler are the talk of the town this week.  The talented Toronto-based duo has work featured in two satellite exhibits during the Toronto International Design Festival (the Come Up To My Room retrospective and the Northern Lights exhibit at Atelier 688). And at the IDS11 itself their work is featured in two of the IDS’ Feature Exhibits: Sibling Revelry and Studio North.

The Sibling Revelry exhibit asks 4 teams of siblings to create unique 600 square foot concept spaces.  Speaking with the CBC’s Matt Galloway about the show earlier this week, the Dresslers talked about producing a building made from 2x4s and windows found around Toronto.  This structure will also  house their furniture creations.  Indeed repurposing and upcycling salvaged materials is at the core of their design mandate. Dedicated to producing socially conscious and responsible furniture and objects they want to challenge definitions of waste and value. To this end, Brothers Dressler embrace the constraints and challenges working with found materials pose, allowing these to focus a project’s potential.

"Creatures" constructed of found wood, scrap material, and salvaged hardware

They will be introducing their Cut Ups series as part of the IDS11’s Limited Edition/Studio North exhibit. In this series they transform waste material – the off cuts from their studio- into a range of products from furniture, lighting and household objects to toys and jewellery.

Brothers Dressler creations are always beautiful, their respect for the natural world shining brightly through.  I have long been enamoured by their pieces, how they are infused with  such character.


If you’re overwhelmed by the number of offsite events this week, consider sticking to Toronto’s west-end where a hub of energy and talent is on display all within a few block radius.  The blocks between Grace and Bathurst Streets on Dundas St W will be transformed into a gallery, during Do Design coordinated by the Trinity Bellwoods BIA.  This is an emerging gallery district in Toronto, also one that boasts some wonderful recently opened cafes and eateries.  From the 27th to the 30th, the two merge with storefronts – even a lumber yard – bedecked in designers’ creative wares.  Enjoy a wonderful meal at The Black Hoof, while also taking in the work of industrial designer Katherine Morley, or wander down the street with a cup of jo from Ella’s Uncle who’s featuring work by Lubo Brezina (walking by his shop, I am always stopped in awe).  Full listing of participating businesses is available on the Trinity Bellwoods BIA site.

Katherine Morley ceramics from the How to Eat Meat series. Image via Do West

In addition to this initiative, there are some wonderful exhibitions happening in these blocks including Capacity and MADE at Home.

Toronto Design Offsite has created a helpful app to those of you carrying iPhones.  Check out their site for the download and stay in the know!

Periphere's Iceberg Table on display at Dialogue 38. Image via Moco Loco

Unique Recycled Furniture

There are many designers out there pushing the envelope when it comes to choice of textile and material in their furniture designs. Here are a few cool finds from designers around the world who neither compromise the earth nor their art. While these pieces certainly mix social commentary and utility, they are also undeniably beautiful pieces that could be married into a range of contemporary interiors.

Inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Couch that used to be a a tub

Image courtesy of Inhabitat.com

Based in the UK, reestore, a contemporary eco design company, takes everyday waste objects and turns them into functional furniture and accessories. Each of their pieces, like the sofa tub pictured, is as fun and cheeky as it is aesthetically pleasing.

Beauty out of Junk

Red car hood turned into a table

Image courtesy of Re-nest.com

Dallas, TX welder Joel Hester of Weld House has been reclaiming dilapidated car hoods and turning them into striking furniture like the dining table above and coffee table below. His site is worth a gander as he provides step-by-step photos on the transformation from broken down car to functional art. Oh how I want one!

DIY coffee table from a car hood

Image courtesy of instablogimages.com

The Magic of Cork

Chaise longues made of cork

These Cortiça Chaise Longues by designer Daniel Michalik of Brooklyn, NY are handmade entirely of reclaimed cork from the bottle-stopper industry. Destined for the landfill, Mr. Michalik repurposed the cork to create a stunning chair that lends those who rock in it a feeling of weightlessness. For more information on the designer’s work, check out his website. Image courtesy of Branchhome.com

Vision Correction

Chandelier made of recycled eyewearSince 2004 the U.K.’s Stuart Haygarth has gained a reputation as a brilliant designer who focuses on repurposing collections of found objects into functional and sculptural objects, most famous for his chandeliers. Hoping to give these banal objects renewed significance, this one, entitled Spectacle, is made from more than 1500 pairs of eyeglasses. The designer writes that ‘using prescriptive spectacles which were once an essential tool for seeing an interesting analogy is drawn between their old and new purposes.” For more information of this piece and Hayworth’s work, visit his website.

Close up of the eyewear

A close up of the chandelier gives you a sense of how the light is refracted between the many layers of lenses.

Unfurling a Roll of Paper

Pompom chairThis Cabbage Chair by Japan-based Nendo was created for a design show curated by fashion icon Issey Miyake. With a nod of respect to the famous curator, Nendo took on the challenge to make this chair out of the pleated paper that is produced in mass amounts during the process of making pleated fabric. This chair is ‘revealed’ as you peel away at the giant roll of paper (for creative-process images click here). That’s right: no internal structure; and entirely free from nails or screws!

More pompom seats

Beautiful coloured versions

How cool that being mindful of our ecological footprint is inspiring designers in the most intriguing and beautiful ways. Limits in material choice are freeing these designers’ creativity and ingenuity. Wow.

Jill’s Top 5 Cool Chandeliers

As someone with a chandelier fetish, narrowing this list down to 5 wasn’t easy. I may have to do a top 5 chandeliers part 2 in the near future. These are aesthetically amazing and incredibly creative in the way re-used materials have been brought back to life.

Chandelier of layered hand-crafted porcelain tiles wrapped in muslin

Image Courtesy of Design Sponge

1. Atelier Abigail Ahern’s Porcelain Chandelier - When I first saw this chandelier I literally gasped. Each individual porcelain tile is hand crafted and rolled in muslin. This is so beautifully layered and at £ 14,000 it’s worth every penny. I actually thought this was made of paper at first, and am still considering making my own “green” version.

Chandelier made with scribbled notes and poems

2. Zettel’z 5 Chandelier by Ingo Maurer - This paper mobile is made up entirely of scribbled notes and poems. The light that shines through the paper is magical and this would always change as you add your own favorite poems, photographs or love notes.

Chandelier made of plastic trash

3. Stuart Haygarth’s Tide Chandelier - What can you say about this but wow!!! It’s comprised of plastic refuse such as water bottles and sunglasses found along the Kent coastline in Britain. It measures 5 feet in diameter and is the most beautiful use of garbage I’ve ever seen.

Victorian-inspired chandelier made of bicycle chains

4. Carolina Fontoura’s Bicycle Chain Chandelier – This Mexican/Brazilian artist came up with the brilliant idea of turning bicycle chains and bicycle parts into these beautiful Victorian inspired chandeliers.

Chandelier made with recycled Bic pens

5. Volivik Lamp by En Pieza – This one is made up of recycled bic pens. It’s available in clear and orange. These are in limited run as there were only 30 made. $1000