x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Trendspotting: Repurposing injects new life into the old

Creating new uses for old things is eco-friendly, and it results in some fabulous and quirky furnishings.

This antique cool box from Antika Dubai is the type of piece that can be repurposed as a storage trunk or side table. Satish Kumar / The National
This antique cool box from Antika Dubai is the type of piece that can be repurposed as a storage trunk or side table. Satish Kumar / The National

In this era of eco-friendliness, it is easy to think that the welfare of our environment depends entirely on recycling. But there are other ways to address the sustainability of our resources - namely, repurposing.

This basically means creating new uses for old things. Repurposing helps combat waste and limits the amount of unwanted household items that end up in landfills. Plus it saves valuable raw materials from being unnecessarily used to produce even more items that we will inevitably throw away. As many advocates of repurposing explain, it is better than recycling because it does not require any extra energy for reprocessing. The aim is for as many people as possible to use items for as long as possible for as many different uses as possible before the items have to be recycled or disposed of.

Designers around the world are exploring the values of repurposing, breathing new life into old, disused, abandoned and broken items, and reassembling them to create unconventional, quirky and unique pieces. Now they need consumers to support their efforts by occasionally opting for repurposed products.

Katie Thompson's Suitcase Chair and Maarten de Ceulaer's A Pile of Suitcases wardrobe are great examples of how everyday items can be reclaimed and rearranged into something wonderful and new. These newly imagined pieces respect the original object while producing a playful new item that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Unite Two Design is a collaboration of creative friends - Keith Traub, Jonny Sinclair and Theresa Daddona-Traub - who build unique furnishings from reclaimed materials and have fully embraced the repurposing philosophy. Based in Skaneateles, New York, they recover material from local farms, industrial sites and residential projects. Their utd:21 Skid media stand made from an 1800s farmhouse beam and decorative posts, shows how their designs draw inspiration from the past, present and future while celebrating the original form. I love that the old bumper sticker is also still intact. They describe their work as building "responsible furnishings for residential and commercial use". Their furniture has a character and style all of its own.

The slightly off-key quirkiness of their furniture encourages us to maintain a sense of humour, even in uncertain times. It also reminds us that interesting products that have a history and soul can be so much more rewarding than the cookie-cutter offerings of many major brands.

Victoria Redshaw is the managing director of Scarlet Opus. For more information visit www.trendsblog.co.uk and www.scarletopus.com

For more information on Unite Two Design, visit www.unitetwodesign.com