For a long period of time I have been fascinated with reuse. After setting up design studio De Denktank together with industrial designer Eelco Rietveld, we went around the country in search of usefull refuse. Pretty soon we found out that products with simple shape and form were more suitable for reuse than others. It was our intention to find new functions for these discarded products. We wanted to upgrade them in such a way consumers wouldn’t recognize the former manifestation at first glance.
Aluminium ruler Curva was the second result of this quest. This 42 centimeter long tool has been made of production waste from a factory of venetian blinds.
In the beginning we wanted to make these rulers with the refuse we had taken from a container for old metals. When we found out that selecting and cleaning the slats was too labour-intensive, we shifted to factory refuse. The ruler can be used to measure straight lines but also for the measurement of the diameter of round objects.
The Curva attracted the attention of the world’s largest manufacturer of Venetian blinds, Hunter Douglas. This company wanted us to find a solution for another waste problem they were facing. A considerable amount of their production of wooden venetian blinds had to be discarded as waste.
Hunter Douglas asked us to develop a new product out of that waste. A long process of experimentation resulted in a flooring concept. It is made of a MDF base on which slices of glued slats are connected. The surface has it’s particular appearance because of strips of high quality Ramin hardwood and thin lines of paint. This concept never went into production. A prototype is now part of a travelling exhibition on new materials.
The third example of lateral thinking is a fruitbowl designed out of old records. We used the process of vacuum forming to heat and deform the plastic. The specific shape has been designed for extra strength and grip to hold the bowl. A transparant sticker is put on both sides to protect the paper labels from moisture.
What makes reuse so interesting is the fact that almost every produced object is unique. The variety in waste is enormous. With the records for example there are many different labels. But there are also differences in thickness and even nicer, in color.
At the same time this variation makes reuse more complex than the average process of mass production. My modelmaker Bert Simons had to be very inventive to deal with the differences. After testing a couple of possibilities he had finally found the right method. After he had taken the record out of the oven he literally jumped on top of the mould. It looked like a hunter taming his prey.
More examples of products I have designed are a plug-in lamp made of old bicycle tubes, a firestarter, a hanging lamp, a tool to carry plastic bags and a paving stone.
The drawing showing the metamorphosis of an old record has been made by Marco de Francesco.
The pictures of the Curva and Frozen have been made by Twan de Veer and Frans Feijen respectively.
The prototypes for Queen Electric and Tasvat were made by Ine van Druten and Bert Simons respectively.