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Trend Research: Eco-Conscious Home - Upcycled Materials

The coming together of recycling and design is informed by the increasing awareness that materials and objects destined for the waste bin can be upcycled to produce something completely different.

Lucirmás is a design studio in Barcelona founded by Italian designer Lucia Bruni, who has embraced the practice of upcycling, using traditional hand production techniques to turn glass bottles into hardwearing and functional domestic objects.


Thus bottles that would usually end up in the rubbish bin become a valuable resource for making lamps and table accessories. LaFlor Lamp is a pendant lamp that features a bottle with a made-to-measure copper shade, while Dama Lamp is a table lamp made by reusing an ordinary 5-litre carafe set on a base of wood from sustainable forests, also handmade by local craftsmen.  

Newspaper takes on a whole new lease of life in the hands of Eindhoven-based Korean/New Zealander WooJai Lee. Turned into pulp and mixed with glue, it becomes a much stronger material than paper that has been recycled several times, and can be used both in furnishing and in building structures.  


The designer has used these modular components to create two series of stools, benches and coffee tables, which exploit the different qualities of paper.  The Pallet series highlights its solidity and geometry, while Sculpt contrasts the regularity and smoothness of the seat with the raw, organic look of the legs. The twofold texture of the bricks has the appearance of marble, while being soft and smooth to the touch, rather like a fabric.

The different surface treatments call for different processing techniques. The “hard” pieces are moulded, while the plastic or irregular ones are hand-modelled.


Cassava is one of the most common crops in Thailand, so much so that at some times of the year, generating huge amounts of waste and pollution. Designer Anon Pariot saw a way out of the problem by conferring an aesthetic and symbolic value on the raw material, preventing it from being discarded. This informed the Penta lamp collection, built on a pentagonal module that is not only reminiscent of the cassava leaf, but also imparts the correct strength to the structure. The material is vacuum pressed, making the plant fibres solid and hard, as well as translucid. This ensures that the components are not just extremely lightweight but are also ideal for generating a pleasing, warm light. The pendant light takes on a spherical or hemispherical shape according to how the pentagons are arranged, making it suitable for many different domestic applications. Another eco-friendly consideration is that the material itself is 100% recyclable and gives off no toxic substances, while any defective pieces can be reused and incorporated into another lamp.

600 million pine trees are felled for timber in Europe every single year. What caught young Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Tamara Orjola’s attention was the fact that, aside from the wood used in manufacturing, the needles – which account for around 20-30% of the tree’s mass – are discarded and treated as waste.


Her Forest Wool collection, which includes two stools and a carpet, is made from recycled pine needles – finely chopped, soaked and pressed – and turned into textiles, composites and paper, extracting essential oils and dye, which in turn have their own uses, in the process. Their sophisticated looks and distinctive imprinted surface, reminiscent of the shape of the needles, is proof of the potential inherent in ecological material of this kind and the possibilities thrown up by upcycling leftover waste from mass production.