This week I went to visit the IMM 2014 in Cologne | Germany. Ready to find upcycle design at this first big furnishing show of the year. Last year I found only two upcyle designers and this year should be better. Well an alarming 5 exhibitors! Oh, I forgot some students who were experimenting with upcycling. I heard one of the big trends in 2014 in design is going to be upcycling. But with 5 upcycle designers at such a big fair, there’s still a long way to go.
Anyway, the only way is up and people are going to see more and more upcycle design and finally they will see and understand this is one of the ways to create added value to this world.
High-end design made with leather leftovers
Well on to one of the upcycle designers that I met. It’s the Dutch designer Pepe Heykoop. I was triggered by vases he covered with leather leftovers and a foundation called ‘Tiny Miracles‘. But before I talk about this project I want to tell what led to these designs. Pepe Heykoop is interested in the link between design and art. This comes with his natural tendency to recycle objects. And a good example is his project called ‘Skin Collection‘ from 2011.
This project is a reaction to the 25-30 percent waste produced by the furniture industry. The furniture he uses is found on the street or secondhand and modified and then covered in pieces of leather leftovers. “What creates this amount of waste are things like the organic shape of the animal, its scratches, damages, scars and unmatching colors after dying. This project is fed by the nature of this leather scrap, turning it into random patterns, referring to cell structures and growth in nature. The cover grows slowly around the object where colors blend together. The entire process is done by hand. It merges discarded objects with a skin made out of waste and gives it a new life.”
Now on to the leather covered vase. In 2012, Heykoop opened his first workshop in one of the poorest areas of Mumbay | India. He started a collaboration with the Tiny Miracles Foundation, founded by his cousin Laurien Meuter. In the workshop he teaches men and women how to produce high-end design. It requires patience and persistence to teach fine skills to people who have never worked before. “Teaching them skills, providing work and enhancing their self esteem are obviously at the heart of our activities.”
One of the products they make is the Matka vase. A discarded traditional Indian water carrier that is now covered in a random pattern of scrap leather. The scraps generate a unique and random pattern as every piece has a different shape, giving the Matka a new life by turning waste into a vase. Using distinctive techniques from his Skin Collection, Matka Vase is produced in his Mumbai workshop.
I really like this because of the combination of upcycle design and doing good for the local community. Upcycling almost can’t get any better than with these type of projects.
Photos © Annemarijne Bax