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Recently I was listening to a NPR piece on plastics. It emphasized: “Recycling alone can’t solve the (plastic) waste conundrum, but many believe it’s a vital piece of an overall strategy.

This radio segment got me thinking again about the hundreds of millions of tons of plastic material available for recycling each year and the role that plastic reuse can play in beautiful, sustainable furniture. 

Over the past two years, we’ve focused on beautiful furniture reimagined from reclaimed wood and metal. I’ve been fortunate to begin to meet a handful of ingenious furniture-makers who have opened my eyes to the world of equally imaginative furniture fashioned out of reclaimed plastic.

These artisans align with mebl’s ethos of high quality, well-designed furniture that innovatively reuses materials with interesting stories. They achieve all this while yanking tons of discarded plastic bags, abandoned fishing nets, faulty eyeglass frames, busted children’s toys and many other types of plastic refuse out of landfills, waste streams and waterways. For starters, here’s a look at the world of chairs. 

 

Reform Studio / Egypt

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“Reform Studio reused 10,336 plastic bags!” we learn from the Studio’s website.

“Plastex is a 100% eco-friendly handmade fabric, made out of wasted plastic bags and cotton and polyester threads,” created by Reform’s co-founders Miriam Hazem and Hend Riad.

Their Grammy collection depicted here is said to bring authentic designs back to life, allowing for a unique production created from reused plastic bags. 

 

Kim Markel  / Hudson Valley, New York

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The Glow Collection, designed by Kim Markel, comprises furniture created from “reclaimed” plastics. The chairs seen above are made from eyeglass lenses that were produced with defects, rendering them unusable. 

“Old plastics are really attractive to me, with such beautiful qualities as translucency, color and durability. I felt like I could help the material transcend itself, and not just look and feel like old plastic.”  -Kim Markel

 

Mater A|S  / Copenhagen

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“Each one of our Ocean Chairs uses some 960 grams of ocean plastic waste,” notes design firm, Mater.

Mater’s  seating “transforms an extensive disposal problem of marine polluters — discarded fishing nets, trawls, ropes and other post-use plastic waste — into valuable recycled plastic raw materials.” Mater acts on the belief that “design influences how we as humans live our lives; it shapes values, culture and society.”

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At mebl | Transforming Furniture, we’re committed to widening consumers’ perception of “reclaimed furniture.”  We believe that artisans’ capacity to reimagine used materials elevates a unique, elegant and innovative furniture aesthetic. Our aim is to inspire environmentally sustainable practices in the furniture industry. 

We can’t recycle our way out of the plastic crisis, but together, how might we explore new and innovative business models that shift the fundamental way in which we reuse plastic?