Zero Waste Land: 13 Design Projects Making Smart Use of Reclaimed Materials

Axyl Collection by Benjamin Hubert + Allermuir

Produced for the British furniture brand Allermuir, the AXYL collection by designer Benjamin Hubert’s firm LAYER aims to be a “sustainable statement,” proving that environmentally responsible products can be just as beautiful and useful as conventional items. The recycled aluminum in the Y-frames of these chairs uses just 5% of the energy required to make new aluminum, and the chair shells, stool tops and table tops consist of a variety of low-impact tmaterials like reclaimed timber, recycled wood fiber and recycled nylon – all waste from the furniture industry.

CARIBE Outdoor Furniture Collection by Ames

Cheerful and fun, the CARIBE series of tables and seating by designer Sebastian Herkner takes inspiration from a traditional weaving technique called momposino found on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Produced for German brand Ames, CARIBE is made of recycled plastic string wound around powder-coated steel frames in striking color combinations. Even better, the furniture is all made by the people for whom momposino is a cultural tradition, in small Colombian factories.

Fikra Tables Made of Recycled Rubber Crumbs

Handsome wooden tables get an unexpected black ‘bumper’ around the edges made of recycled rubber crumbs in this collection for Fikra by KALO design studio. The design marries sustainable, renewable oak wood with a reclaimed material in an unconventional way, contrasting natural and human-made materials.

Freitag Zippelin Inflatable Suitcase

Strong, durable and water-resistant truck tarps form the basis of Freitag’s ‘Zippelin,’ a lightweight suitcase that rolls up to practically nothing thanks to its frameless design. How does it get structure once you’re ready to hit the road? With air. You inflate the bag’s hidden inner tube with a bike pump and you instantly have a lightweight, highly packable rolling bag.

People’s Pavilion by Burea SLA + Overtreders W

Even architecture can get in on this game. At last year’s Dutch Design Week, a structure called The People’s Pavilion hosted a series of talks within an almost zero-waste structure made with all recycled and borrowed materials. The colorful shingles reminiscent of fish scales are made of recycled plastic, and the wooden framework was returned to its owner intact when the festival ended. Its creators, Bureau SLA and Overtreders W, wanted to promote the value of a ‘closed loop’ construction system that accounts for the end of a building’s usefulness.

“We took the circular idea to a maximum level,” says Peter van Assche, Burea SLA founder. “The structure itself has almost no ecological footprint. This is what you can do by just borrowing a few materials from friendly people.”