Saturday 1st February 2020
As the importance of eco-friendly living becomes ever clearer, demand for sustainable interiors continues to grow. In fact, sustainability is now a familiar buzzword within many industries, sectors and products, including home décor. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that this is much more than just a passing fad. So, more and more interior designers and companies are embracing sustainable materials, alongside the concept of both recycling and upcycling. As a result, we hope sustainability and eco-friendly furnishings become part of a wider lifestyle choice for the foreseeable future.
Recycling versus upcycling
While both have plenty to commend them, there are key differences between recycling and upcycling. Recycling – the more familiar term – is the process of turning waste into a reusable product or material. So, this tends to cover everyday items such as glass, paper and plastic. However, these decrease in quality each time we recycle them.
On the other hand, upcycling, as the name suggests, involves an upgrade. It’s therefore a process whereby we reuse discarded materials or objects to create something, which is higher quality than the original. So, within interiors, it’s an innovative and intelligent way to repurpose sustainable materials to create unique items, such as furniture and accessories. Therefore, thanks to the very nature of upcycling, there is no compromise on quality, as demonstrated by the companies showcased here.
At Matthew Wailes, we are leading the upcycling charge within high quality soft furnishings with our LuxuryEco collection. After all, plastic pollution is a modern-day plague that is choking our oceans and the marine life within it. So, together with one of our manufacturing partners, The Carpet Maker, we have learned how to retrieve plastic bottles from the sea in Thailand. We then transform these into a unique fibre, which we use to create bespoke carpets and rugs.
The plastic bottles we recover convert into chip form, which we then spin in Thailand to produce spools of yarn. This upcycled yarn then becomes a substitute for other fibres, such as silk or mercerised cotton. As a result, this sustainable thread is long-lasting, repels water, and is stain- and mildew-resistant. In addition, it's even flame-retardant and feels velvety soft.
Quality with a conscience: Our Nautilus rug in Rust – part of our LuxuryEco collection –
made from upcycled plastic bottles recovered from the ocean in Thailand
Waste plastic is also a key theme within the work of James Shaw, who designs fine objects. So Shaw has invented a hand ‘gun’ which extrudes plastic bags into long strips. While hot, he can form them into furniture and other items, including masks, clocks, lighting and cutlery.
James Shaw’s Plastic Baroque Mantel Clock made from hand-extruded high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
Claire Malet is a metal artist and silversmith, whose work is inspired by natural forms and landscapes. Now, she uses 100% certified recycled silver, and her gold leaf is sourced from a supplier with “conflict-free certification”. We've found that organic forms feature heavily within her portfolio, as do sustainable materials. As a result, this is a collection of upcycled works of art, many of which are bespoke or available to commission.
Claire Malet’s upcycled Winter Sketch Vessels are made from reformed steel cans combined with 24ct gold and 12ct white gold
Kizi Studio is a product and architecture design agency, which delivers a wide variety of projects, including furniture and interiors. Of course, chairs and tables are obvious candidates for upcycling and sustainable materials. But the Kizi team have seriously upped the ante with their Artichair, which features thistle (also known as wild artichoke).
In fact, the original version began life as a case study on the alternative use of agricultural waste. Using the top of the plant (obtained from the biofuel industry), this company has created a new eco-material. So, they are exploring a number of possible applications for it, within sustainable product design.
Kizi Studio’s Artichair has repurposed the wild artichoke thistle, a plant native to the western
and central Mediterranean region, to create an eco-material
Foresso by Conor Taylor
In material terms, we can gain sustainability from different sources. So recycled/upcycled materials is one. However, using materials that are a renewable resource, and grow easily, is another. Wood is a prime example.
We've discovered an exciting development in this sphere. Have you heard of Foresso? It's a timber terrazzo range. In fact, it's made from a composite sheet material composed of timber, wood waste from sawmills, cement, waste lime plaster, resin and pigment. It’s then cast onto a birch plywood substrate, and sealed with a hardwax oil. So this versatile sustainable material can be used to make countertops, furniture, wood panelling and even flooring.
Foresso’s The London Collection by Conor Taylor is an homage to the city’s different neighbourhoods.
Each colourway was inspired by the aesthetic and rich history of the capital. The timber used was sourced from trees felled within London
There are so many ways to introduce sustainability into every room in your home – including the bedroom. So, Yorkshire bedmaker Harrison Spinks is on a mission to make its customers sleep easier – in every sense – with its eco-friendly beds and mattresses.
We hear the company owns a sustainable forest, which provides the wood for its divans. Eschewing non-recyclable materials such as foam, it grows hemp and flax on its farm for its mattress fillings. And it even rears its own sheep, for their wool! In fact, its processes are just as important as its products. By farming its own materials, and manufacturing its own products, Harrison Spinks say they are saving more than 1,300 tonnes of CO2 every year.
Harrison Spinks’ Seasonal Turn Sapphire bed features a mattress packed with natural,
sustainable upholstery layers included Egyptian cotton, tree silk, and Alpaca wool
Made in Ratio
Fans in search of sustainable contemporary furniture should explore Made In Ratio, which champions natural, renewable and recycled materials. Its Stellarnova legs collection features biomorphic forms inspired by nature, sand cast in recycled aluminium or solid bronze. Designed with a triangulated attachment point, each leg is self-supportive with the tabletop, which reduces the amount of material used. Completely modular, the legs can be positioned with tabletops of any size and shape.
Designed by Brodie Neill, the Stellarnova table shown features legs in recycled aluminium with a patinated finish
Paul Kelley designs and hand makes modernist furniture for clients all over the world. An advocate of upcycling, Kelly often uses his own workbenches to create innovative pieces. So, examples include this cube which opens out to reveal a striking black and gold writing desk and stool.
This upcycled black and gold desk was created by Paul Kelley
using an old benchtop, cast acrylic, mahogany and 22ct gold leaf
Get in touch with us here to find out more about our Matthew Wailes LuxuryEco collection. It is perfect those who want to help the planet by lowering plastic waste in the ocean and invest in a luxury rug or carpet which will stand the test of time.