People often ask me what upcycling is all about. Of course I tell them that there are several environmental benefits like having less waste being sent to landfill and reducing the need for new materials that are used producing new products. The result is a reduction in pollution and less CO2 emissions.
And this is only about the environment. But there is another significant benefit. It’s a social economic benefit. Old and new production and material sourcing methods are used by designers and producers. Almost forgotten crafts and production techniques used in third world countries and the western world come alive again. Generating an emerging new industry/trade where everybody can benefit from. The designer creates an original eco friendly design, the craftsmen/women are the new producers and finally able the earn more money. Last but not least, the consumer can buy a unique environmentally friendly product thereby positively contributing to our planet.
To round up this explanation one shouldn’t forget a very important side benefit. It’s the fact that because of upcycling and especially upcycle design, people will see waste in a different light.
Seatbelt bags harnessing practicality and innovation
And looking at things in a different way brings me to seatbelts. An object you might not think of being suitable for upcycling. But there’re, as always, some designers that create pretty nice upcycle designs using them. Have a look at a seatbelt furniture collection by Nuttapong Charoenkitivarakorn and a fantastic chair by Adam Barron.
A few weeks ago I came across a series of very fashionable seatbelt bags. The collection is created by designer dutch designer Karin Pekelharing, founder of Pekelharing Product Design and based in Amsterdam. She was born in the Netherlands and grew up in Germany. Karin studied Industrial Design at the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU).
It all started when Karin spotted a pile of discarded seatbelts lying on a table in a friend’s atelier. Together with her wish to own a a functional, sturdy and beautiful weekend bag, things were set in motion. First there were some well received prototypes followed by a limited range of bags.
“Seeing opportunity for improvement or innovation forms the inspiration for my design. I think in solutions to everyday problems. This drives my design and production philosophy – harnessing practicality and innovation in a thoughtful and appealing form. It inspires me and my work.”
The seatbelt bags collection by Pekelharing distinguishes itself by showing very stylish and fashionable bag designs. For instance the Tote Gold Orange is a perfect gorgeous bag for beach, market, shopping and to carry lots of stuff, without being huge. All Pekelharing bags are totally practical, extremely resilient and handmade in Amsterdam.