Treehugger just posted a slide show of about a dozen cool objects upcycled from plastic bags and it really got me thinking alot about upcycling and marketing and the absolute disconnect between the two.
I learned how to properly fuse bags when I was working at TerraCycle as a designer and it requires nothing more than just a bit of teflon, an iron, a flat surface and patience, but there always seems to be something factored out that most of us in the upcycling business just don’t seem to care about, and that, my friends, is STYLE. Designers wear many hats in the green field, but I feel like the way something looks, fashionably, is often overlooked. Why is this?
Why do the majority of upcycled goods that we see on the market still resemble the trash that they once were?
As the designer behind the Upcycled Umbrella Product Company, Recycling Zychal, I credit alot of my success in this industry to the fact that my work might be made from trash, but you wouldn’t know that unless I specifically mentioned it prior to your initial viewing. Broken umbrellas might be a better resource to work with since it’s generally not filled with branding and obnoxious barcodes, but trust me, it still has it’s kinks. Nonetheless, the fact that my products are made from broken umbrellas is always a secondary thought. ‘Form follows function’ comes first, but lets face it, no one’s going to buy something doesn’t look good and that’s important!
Consumers, whether they are Earth-loving vegans or Meat-loving plastic-bag-thrower-awayers react upon the way something looks, the problem isn’t getting these already “green” consumers to buy the product, its getting the people who wouldn’t normally buy the green product to buy it (the green people already have it, or have figured out how to make it). The “green” part of it is only going to take the product so far, and even if someone does want to buy it, it will have to be marked down for them to consider it valuable which makes just about 0% sense in the head of a designer who understands the complexity of having to almost reverse engineer the upcycled material, deal with its preexisting shape and size and figure out how to make their object work. I talk to fellow designers about this all of the time. In an industry bloated with people fighting to get in the front door, where are the style makers and why aren’t they upcycling!?
Here are a few photos I picked out from the slideshow to illustrate what Sexy Plastic Bag Upcycling and Better Off Not Upcycled looks like to me, and please send me any more examples, I’ll be sure to post them!
Camila Labra's Dacca Boots made from upcycled bags, so awesome!
Camila Labra = my upcycling hero
I bet these boots are water resistant too.. <3
Camila Labra is a Chilean Industrial Designer who fashioned these boots out of upcycled plastic bags. Not only are these probably the Sexiest Upcycled shoes I have EVER seen, but they are only $45. I’m not sure how you order a pair, but I am pretty sure I want one in every color!
Ryan Frank's Inkuku Chair has plastic bags written all over it, comfy? I bet!
While this Inkuku Chair by Ryan Frank uses the plastic bags as more of a decoration than a functional part of the object, I can still see the purpose and the sexiness. Plastic bags are sometimes soft and squishy and using them around, what I can only assume is, a chrome frame is much better than sitting on plain old chrome! I love the modulation of the bags in this chair that make it look so modern. Ryan Frank, you totally get my stamp of Sexy Upcycling Approval!
Kate Wards crocheted plastic bag bags... maybe I just don't like the look of crocheted
So here are Kate Ward’s plastic bag bags. I must say, the colors are awesome, (where can I get ahold of some brightly colored plastic bags like this?!) but I don’t know, something about this screams beach party… and maybe that’s just exactly what they are made for, but for my everyday purse purposes..I don’t think so. I will admit, I hate the look of crochet, it reminds me of Easter baskets, but I have to give credit where credit is due to Kate because if she is really saving these plastic bags from a life in the landfill then she is truly an upcycling heroine!
Cathy Kasdan's thesis project at Kent State University Textile Department..makes me itchy looking at it
Cathy Kasdan‘s thesis project at Kent State University Textile Department is quite the upcycled outfit, but Sexy Upcycling, I don’t think so. I love the effort involved with this, but would I wear it? No. Would anyone wear this? I have a feeling that this might not have ever been intended to wear and I also have a feeling that this would make a “wish-wish” sound while walking with it. I’m noteven sure if I like the 50′s style going on here. I do like that all of the bags used to make this were either donated or from actual grocery trips. Far too often I see things that are basically greenwashed saying that they are made from recycled such and such, when you can blatantly tell by the perfection of the modulation that there was an outside source providing the material.
This may be my last post for the year as I am going on vacation for a week after Christmas…and by going on vacation, I mean painting my apartment. I hope everyone has a safe, healthy, sexy new year and I can’t wait to report on more Sexy Upcycling in 2010!
Read Full Post »