Upcycling with a proudly South African twist

2011-03-04 09:30

‘Upcycling” is the process of converting waste ­material, or seemingly useless products, into new products with a higher environmental value.

The trend found it’s roots in the eco­movement but gained popularity during the recession.

Instead of throwing objects away, they are given a second life and, in most cases, a more glamorous and different incarnation of their former function.

At the Design Indaba Expo 2011, there were pockets of this trend, showing that South African designers were not ­only translating environmental concerns into their work, but bringing a distinctly ­humorous twist to the end product.

» Drift’s weathered elegance
www.thinic e.co.za

The Drift range of furniture, designed by Anton Ferreira, is made solely from abandoned wood.

The distinct grey colour of the wood is achieved by weathering the timber outdoors for six months rather than using chemicals.

The wood is then used unplanned and unvarnished to ­emphasise its unique character.

Old-school carpentry techniques are used in the manufacturing process, providing not only durability but a classic finish.

» Zen Zulu’s wired vessel

Zen Zulu specialises in hand-crafted homeware made from traditional design techniques using telephone wire.

Designer Marisa Fisk-Jordaan has been showcased across the world, but her new collection – Jungle Nature – takes this craft to ­another level.

Having showcased at the Design Museum Holon and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, this magnificent vase (pictured) was exhibited in the Design Indaba’s new section, the Salon Privé, a selection of luxury design items.

» Recreate’s quirky (re)purpose

Katie Thompson founded Recreate in 2009.

The company specialises in repurposed furniture and lighting.

She uses discarded items with character, like old suitcases, or uniquely South African items like zinc baths, and transforms them into chairs or cupboards and even oversized ottomans.

The result is a curious mixture of quirky humour and refined elegance.

» Woza Moya’s Dreams for Africa Chair

For the past six years, visitors to the Design Indaba Expo have been asked to vote for The Design Indaba Most Beautiful Object in South Africa. This year, 3 000 people voted via SMS for The Dreams for Africa Chair by Woza Moya.

This remarkable chair invites people from all walks of life to sit in it and share their dreams.

It was created by the women of the Woza Moya income-generation project. Founded in 2009, 160 women from the Valley of 1 000 Hills in KwaZulu-Natal came together to create a legacy of hope with Woza Moya.

Supported by the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust, the chair ­travels across South Africa and will soon travel abroad.

The chair is a celebration of local craftsmanship, and the rich and unique beauty of Zulu beadwork.

» Laduma Ngxokolo’s Xhosa knitwear

There was a lot of buzz around ­Laduma Ngxokolo’s presentation at the Design Indaba.

Based in Port Elizabeth, Ngxokolo had his first experience with textile design when he studied at Lawson Brown High School in 2003.

His flair for knitwear design earned him a bursary from both Cape Wools South Africa and Mohair South Africa during his BTech studies at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University last year.

The Colourful World of the Xhosa Culture, a collection of men’s knitwear inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork, won him the South African ­national leg of the SA Society of Dyers and Colourists Design Competition. He earned a trip to London, where he was awarded the international first prize of the competition. Watch this space.

» Peta-Lee Woolf’s brush with mohair

Johannesburg-based Peta-Lee Woolf is known for her beautifully handmade felt products.

She has been collaborating with Mohair South Africa to give this ­underrated fibre a contemporary twist.

Most South Africans don’t realise that the Eastern Cape, and Graaff-Reinet in ­particular, is the mohair capital of the world.

We export most of the world’s mohair from this region.

Woolf’s unique take on textiles is fast-tracking this retro fibre into the 21st century.

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