I was working my way around the stands at a trade show a few years ago when I came across this interesting piece of old furniture nestled amongst all the swish, polished, smooth clean lines of contemporary pieces. It was in an area called ‘Designers’ Block’ where I was expecting to see the weird and the wonderful, certainly not a battered old chest of drawers.
Standing nearby was a young man who clearly wanted to talk so I asked him his name. “Tom”, he said and he then introduced me to the piece of furniture, “This is Aschenputtel”.
He explained that it was an experimental work, the result of a collaboration between himself, Thomas Forsyth, and Owen Gildersleeve. (If you’d like to see more about this piece of furniture, as shown at Interiors UK 2010, there’s a magical little video here.)
I was intrigued by the old silk ties that lined the top opening ‘drawer’ and the hand cut paper petals, now covered by a layer of clear perspex to preserve their beauty, that formed a drawer lining. I enjoyed hearing how some of the renovation was really difficult and time consuming and how it was intentional to leave the paintwork shabby. (Images of Aschenputtel courtesy Thomas Forsyth.)
Since then I have come across lots of up-cycled, recycled, renovated, re-worked and repurposed items glad to see that ‘eco friendly’ and ‘sustainable’ principles are still very trendy. This piece has never left my imagination however, and I think it was the fact that it had a name. Is that silly? And I’m a sucker for colour; these were outstandingly pretty petals, offering a lovely surprise when you opened the drawer, so much so, I wonder if I would have ever used it for storage.
Guide to green design
Here are a few points about green design and then some images of items I’ve seen since Aschenputtel. Enjoy!
- Sustainability is the capacity to maintain a system for a long time, perhaps indefinitely so we can utilise and replenish the planet’s resources responsibly.
- Many items are over designed and over engineered so we must ask the question, “Can it look good and do the job using less material?”
- Although renovation, which protects and preserves, is not necessarily a cheaper option it is right and proper to conserve the valuable and aesthetically important.
- Recycling is concerned with saving resources and finding innovative uses for waste material.
- Up-cycling brings something back to a useful life, possibly with a whole new purpose.