Arts, culture, ideas & expression of a few wild art monkeys living in an arts loft in Jersey City.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

DESIGN CHRONICLES- "Reclaiming" History

*Kitchen Counter Island
-made from an old heavy duty push cart, church pew and drafting table.

My favorite design aesthetic these days has been anything with RECLAIMED WOOD and recovered materials. The "Upcycled", "reclaimed", "recovered" design philosophy has gone from low-brow to trendy in the passed few years. Hell, even "steam-punk" owes some of it's aesthetic to the concept of reclaiming our materials and thus reclaiming our history.
We're living in the disposable-age and although it's great that our products are now created with their degradability in mind, what has transpired as a result is the perceived obsolescence of the products we buy and the disposable character that is inherent in those materials. What we are left with are products that don't age well, leave a mark or illicit reminiscent memories. We don't have mason jars, we have plastic bottles. Most of our literature is in magazine form or completely virtual. Our table is made out of MDF, our dresser is a pressboard composite, our bookshelf is pine and even our floors are a fake wood laminate on top of 1/2" plywood. What would you pass down to your kids or even your little brother for that matter?!
Like many, I got into the reclaimed design world out of necessity. I didn't stumble on a design blog site and think to myself, "I can do that!" I literally just found myself unable to afford furniture and having moved around a few times realized that none of my contemporary furniture survived more then one move, so... I started building. I was not by any stretch of the word considered "handy". In fact I could barely build a box and absolutely hated having to build things. I was however passionately interested in the designing part, and found a partner in design with my best bud, who was quite adept at constructing things.After years of working here at 660, through necessity I developed the skills to work with found materials. We are in a post-industrial area which was much like a wasteland when I 1st arrived 10yrs ago, so it was great for garbage picking. I recovered old doors and hardware, scrap wood & metal as well as hand me down paints and materials. I went to work on some assemblage styled doors and furniture, teaching myself how to distress and age new wood as well as recover the beauty in old discarded wood and this made me go from hating the act of building to truly loving and finding purpose in it. The wood is grateful when it is restored and so am I.
We live and experience memories just like our father and his father did, yet why can't the remenants of our existence age with character like theirs have? If I live 80 years why can't the objects I live among show the signs of that age and take on the character of a well used, well lived lifetime? Working with reclaimed woods gives me the opportunity to live amongst furniture that will be there,age along with me, and share in my experiences the way furniture has done for generations and should for generations to come.

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