What happens when you mix the philosophy of Habitat for Humanity with the material hunting skills of a freegan?
You get Dan Philips, founder of Phoenix Commotion, an amazing upcycling based construction company who not only salvages landfill waste and turns it into sustainable, affordable, energy-efficient, one-of-a-kind houses for single mothers, artists and low-income families, but also teaches valuable and sustainable construction skills to volunteers who help him.
This guy is truly a Sexy Upcycling Hero and I HIGHLY recommend his inspiring Ted Talk. Not to mention, his work is phenomenal and he has a great Flickr filled with pictures of his work.
In his Ted Talk, Phillips breaks down why there is so much waste coming from construction and the housing industry and bases it off of psychological presumptions that we build in our head from the day we are born. He points out that we need to see things in repetition in order to create a pattern, but with waste material, it’s very hard for us to create a pattern since “Trees don’t grow 2 x 4″; 8, 10 and 12′ tall”. So instead of just letting the excess material go to waste, he creates patterns of flaws that unifies whatever it is that he is constructing, which psychologically creates something desirable. While showing a picture of a beautiful house that he made, he wittily states that “There are bulges, pokes and sags [in his work and] if that ruins your life, you shouldn’t live there”.
Some highlights of his work include decorative architectural buttons made from bondo filled eggs, “lumpy tiles” made from smashed toilets, a doormat made from a chunk of wood and some bottle caps turned upside-down, roofing shingles made from retired license plates and my favorite, a deadbolt lock made from the fence of a 1930′s wood shaper.