Crayons from Japan’s recycled trees highlights the country’s forests

When you think of wood, the color that immediately comes to mind is brown since that’s what most of us have seen in the trees near our abodes or even when we travel. But it’s not the only color that we can extract from it, specifically from various species of forest trees. With 2//3 of Japan covered with trees and a lot of these forests remaining unharvested and unmaintained, it’s interesting to see what sustainable products can be made out of these trees.

Designer Name: Playfool

Forest Crayons is a project that uses the pigments extracted from various recycled forest trees and mixes them with other sustainable ingredients to turn them into crayons. Each one has a different shade that is based on the species of the recycled tree as well as how it was cultivated and grown. For example, you get a light green color for magnolia and a deep turquoise of fungus stained wood.

The pigments extracted are mixed with wood, rice wax, and rice oil to produce the different crayons. There are ten crayons available in the Forest Crayons set: Bayberry, Bogwood, Cedar, Chinaberry, Cybress, Hazenoki, Katsura, Kaizuka, Magnolia, and Zelkova. Some names should be familiar to most people but there are species that are native to Japan and some that have Japanese names.

Forest Crayons are actually supported by the Japanese Forest Agency and aside from producing these from recycled trees, they also want to “breathe new life into Japanese wood” so that people will have a new appreciation for the country’s forests. I would prefer the triangular shape of the crayons shown in the product shots but it makes sense of course to have them in the traditional crayon shape for functional reasons.

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LEGO-like concrete blocks made from waste are easy to assemble and disassemble

The more buildings we put up to address the growing needs of our civilization, the more materials and energy are consumed along with a rise in waste. And these structures don’t last forever, so the unsustainable process happens over and over again. The need for more sustainable alternatives to building materials has never been greater, especially at the rate that we’re building, tearing down, and rebuilding structures. This new kind of cinder block alternative is trying to be that answer, and it’s notable not just for its composition but because of the interlocking design that makes it easy to build a wall and, when the time comes, take it down again and reuse the blocks for some other building.

Designer: Dustin Bowers

Although your typical cinder block isn’t completely harmful to the environment, they are simply wasteful and inefficient. Putting together a wall requires a lot of time, effort, and materials like mortar to give it strength, and even then it’s not that strong anyway. And if you have to, say, move the wall or remove it completely, there’s no other method other than demolishing that wall and then building a new one from scratch.

PLAEX-crete attacks the problem of concrete blocks from two angles: composition and construction. Unlike other sustainable blocks, PLAEX doesn’t hesitate to get down and dirty, using materials that are considered different to recycle, including agricultural, marine, and industrial plastic waste and aggregate waste from the construction industry. Each block is made up of more than 90% recycled waste but is 33% lighter than traditional cinder blocks while also stronger.

The material alone isn’t enough to radically change the construction industry, though. The second part of the two-hit combo that PLAEX delivers is the shape of the blocks that look like gigantic LEGO blocks. The interlocking mechanism is no joke, however, and allows workers to build up a wall twice the time as regular concrete blocks. Best of all, you don’t even need mortar or other materials to keep the blocks together, and they still end up being more solid, sturdier, and more durable than a cinder block wall.

That same interlocking design makes it possible to disassemble the blocks just as easily so that they can be reused, saving money and resources. A modification of the design has also given birth to the PLAEX LinX which supports connections at different angles for more creative shapes and constructions. At the moment, PLAEX can only be used for non-occupancy walls, but work is underway to make the material certified for homebuilding, at which point it could revolutionize the construction industry with its environment-friendly and convenient design.

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TECNO CAMON 30 Series LOEWE Edition has a back made from coffee grounds

It’s arguable that coffee makes the world go round, but to some extent, it also does a bit of harm in the process. Our rapid and massive consumption of this beverage has resulted in no small amount of waste, from the plastic cups and straws that we throw away daily to even the grounds that often go into the bin. The latter is, of course, biodegradable, but even that takes time to decompose, during which time they pile up and pollute the environment. Waste coffee grounds can actually have other uses, from aromatic candles to even skin care, so you simply need a creative mind to figure out ways to reuse these traces of caffeinated drinks. Working together with famed luxury design marque LOEWE, TECNO has thought of transforming this waste product into a beautiful and sustainable material to grace the back of its latest flagship smartphone.

Designer: TECNO x LOEWE

With a reported average consumption of 2 billion cups every day around the world, it’s no surprise that waste coffee grounds can actually be an environmental problem. Even when they do decompose in landfills, their improper disposal releases harmful greenhouse gasses that slowly but surely kill the very planet that coffee trees grow on. Recycling these coffee grounds is, of course, a solution, but traditional recycling processes also use up plenty of water and energy.

In contrast, the back cover of the new TECNO CAMON 30 Series LOEWE Edition uses not only sustainable materials but also a sustainable process. The coffee grounds are processed without using organic solvents, don’t consume more water, and also use solar power. The result is a back cover that is composed of more than 20% bio-based material that gives the surface a unique texture that will delight your hand the moment it touches it.

You might not be able to tell that the TECNO CAMON 30 LOEWE Edition has a back made from recycled coffee grounds because of its distinctive green color instead of the brown that’s associated with coffee. This gradated color was chosen to be symbolic of nature, representing the natural life cycle of leaves. More interestingly, TECNO also opted to adopt a color-blocking style that not only makes the phone look modern but also gives it a bit of character.

This industry-first coffee grounds back design is available on all TECNO CAMON 30 Series models with no changes to their internal specs. For the Premier 5G variant, that means having no less than four 50MP cameras sitting on top of this unique and sustainable material. Availability details of the TECNO CAMON 30 Series LOEWE Design Edition are unavailable at the moment.

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How Does Upcycling Innovate Materials?

Amidst global concerns of exceeding the Earth’s capacity, upcycling has gained prominence as a solution, driven by conscious consumption and the circular economy’s principles. Upcycling helps reduce the amount of waste that would have made it to the landfills and repurposes items that would have been discarded, giving them a second life without degradation. It facilitates two out of the three Rs of recycling: REDUCE and REUSE.

Designer: FabBrick

Upcycling vs Recycling

Contrary to common belief, upcycling differs from recycling in that it repurposes materials without sacrificing their original quality. While recycling breaks down materials like plastic, paper, glass, and metal to produce new items, typically of inferior quality, upcycling maintains the integrity of the original materials, providing limitless opportunities to breathe new life into old items.

Upcycling

Upcycling involves gathering products or waste to repurpose or reuse, enhancing their value without breaking them down, thus maintaining their original characteristics, strength, and durability. This approach avoids any degradation of the material or product. Materials such as rubber and denim lend themselves well to upcycling, showcasing their versatility and potential. For instance, turning old jeans into patches for a blanket maintains the integrity of the denim, showcasing upcycling’s creative potential.

Recycling

Recycling involves gathering products or waste for breakdown and transformation into new items, requiring a specific process that can alter the original characteristics of the material or product. Each recycling cycle diminishes the material’s strength, and only certain materials are suitable for recycling; for instance, rubber presents challenges in the recycling process.

What are the different categories of upcycled products?

1. Electronics

Designer: Think Tank Team

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are now ubiquitous, yet their disposal poses environmental risks due to improper handling. Project Afterlife offers a solution by upcycling old smartphones instead of recycling them. This concept transforms devices into kinetic art objects, enhancing ambiance while conserving energy and resources. The product, resembling a taco-shaped crescent made from recycled plastic, provides an interactive platform for repurposed smartphones. With Project Afterlife, simply tilt the device to switch between different modes, like the “Endless Clock” and the “Timeline” photo stream, without touching the screen. This shows how upcycling helps the environment and makes everyday objects more valuable.

2. Textile

Designer: IKEA

In recent years, there has been a surge in supporting brands that prioritize sustainability, including upcycling and recycling materials. Ikea is joining this trend with their new collection, VÄXELBRUK, made from recycled coworker uniforms. This innovative line features 16 textile-based items, blending old uniforms with recycled materials like polyester from PET bottles. By repurposing these materials, Ikea reduces waste and offers stylish, eco-friendly products. The collection showcases how sustainability and style can go hand in hand.

3. Wood Waste

Designers: Michael and Mariel Upton

Recycling reduces landfill waste but can be energy-intensive and alter original designs. Upcycling offers a more efficient option, yet not all materials suit it. For example, discarded skateboard decks are transformed into stylish wall lamps named Heru, Cuna, and Mara. Reshaped into shorter ovals, paired with lighting hardware, and adorned with original artwork, these lamps emit a warm glow, serving as both illumination and minimalist decor, defying their original purpose.

4. Old Furniture

Designer: Christoph Kurzmann

During renovations, some opt to discard furniture instead of considering recycling. However, awareness of consumption and disposal is growing, leading to projects that repurpose items. Oxford Brookes University planned to landfill furniture during dorm renovations, but a student proposed the Upscaling Upcycling project. Disassembling existing furniture, Kurzmann created new designs, such as stackable stools and chairs from old bedframes and drawers. These pieces are well-designed and practical, showcasing the potential of upcycling to save resources and create useful furnishings.

5. PET Bottles

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, known for its durability and lightweight nature, is commonly utilized in manufacturing containers for the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and personal care sectors.

Designer: Impact Acoustic, Atelier oï

At the core of Oloïd’s innovative design is Archisonic Felt, a high-performance sustainable acoustic absorber made from upcycled PET bottles. Crafted from Archisonic Felt, Oloïd, a sustainable acoustic luminaire resulting from the collaboration between Impact Acoustic and atelier oï, exemplifies the fusion of functionality and artistic expression in modern design. This versatile material offers exceptional sound absorption while redefining the interaction between light and sound. Its Cradle-to-Cradle certification and LEED accreditation underscore its eco-friendly credentials. With 32 captivating colors curated from the Archisonic Felt range, Oloïd empowers users to personalize their spaces, seamlessly integrating organic shapes that transform two-dimensional panels into captivating three-dimensional entities. This luminaire not only sets a new standard for sound-absorbing luminaires but also stands as a testament to the potential of sustainable design in reshaping illuminated spaces.

6. Denim

Designer: Jack Spencer (Mosevic)

Researchers highlight that producing a single pair of jeans requires a staggering 7,600 liters of water, prompting global concern among ecologists about denim’s environmental impact. Textile production, notably denim, contributes significantly to water consumption, energy usage, and landfill overflow due to non-biodegradable fibers like synthetics. While recycling remains an underutilized option, upcycling emerges as a promising solution, exemplified by startups transforming old jeans into stylish sunglasses. Mosevic pioneers denim waste reduction by infusing waste denim with bio-resin to craft durable “Solid Denim” sunglasses, adorned with a natural wax finish for longevity. Despite sustainability challenges, initiatives aim to upscale production and inspire similar textile waste solutions.

7. Old Bicycles

Designer: Hyemin Kim

The 2 Stools from 1 Bicycle project repurposes old bike frames to create unique and functional stools. Each stool features a distinctive design with slanted legs reminiscent of the original bike frames, giving them a striking appearance. One stool has three legs, while the other has four, adding to their individuality. The seat is crafted from recyclable cork, in line with the project’s sustainability mission. These stools not only offer practicality and convenience but also allow people to give sentimental objects like old bikes a new lease on life. With their unconventional aesthetics and eco-friendly materials, these stools are both functional and visually appealing additions to any space.

Designer: Roy Sherizly (TOOB)

The growing popularity of bicycles in recent years has brought attention to long-standing environmental concerns associated with their components, particularly inner tubes. Despite being more eco-friendly than cars or motorcycles, bicycles still contribute to pollution due to discarded parts like rubber tires and inner tubes. The TOOB accessories line addresses this issue by repurposing useless inner tubes into practical and stylish products. Handpicked from local shops in Tel Aviv, these inner tubes undergo thorough cleaning and inspection before being transformed into items like TOOB Keychains and TOOB Straps. This upcycling initiative not only extends the lifespan of inner tubes but also supports the local bicycle economy. While inner tubes eventually wear out, TOOB’s efforts help postpone their disposal in landfills, offering a temporary solution until more sustainable alternatives are developed.

8. Cut-Offs

Designers: Anthony Frank Keeler, Sarah Coleman, Wisse Trooster

In manufacturing, there’s often excess material left unused, contributing to environmental concerns. To address this, manufacturers and designers are increasingly focusing on reducing waste and repurposing leftovers. Recycling and upcycling these materials into furniture and lighting fixtures, like Stackabl’s pendant lamps, offer sustainable solutions. Stackabl’s DIY tool allows users to customize their lamps by adjusting parameters such as length and disc diameter, resulting in unique, eco-friendly designs. Incorporating upcycled materials and energy-efficient LEDs, Stackabl emphasizes sustainability while offering personalized lighting solutions.

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Durat’s Sustainable Surfaces Merge Aesthetics with Environmental Ethics

Since its establishment in 1990, Durat, a Finnish leader in sustainable design materials, has been at the forefront of both ecological innovation and aesthetic functionality. With a steadfast commitment to transforming industrial waste into high-quality, recyclable solid surfaces, Durat redefines the traditional use of recycled materials. At the core of its philosophy, deeply rooted in the principles of the circular economy, these values are evident in its product offerings and holistic approach to design and production. During Milano Design Week 2024, Durat showcased the “PORTA DEI COLORI” installation, a vivid illustration of their philosophy. This installation, brought to life by Linda Bergroth, symbolizes the marriage of sustainable practices with imaginative design. It demonstrates that recycled materials can be used beyond just practical applications, achieving significant artistic value.

Designer: Linda Bergroth + Durat

Unlike traditional countertop materials such as granite, quartz, or laminate, Durat’s sustainable solid surfaces present several environmental and functional advantages. Traditional materials like granite and quartz involve energy-intensive mining processes and often require long-distance transportation, which significantly impacts the environment. Additionally, laminate countertops may release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to the chemicals involved in their production. In contrast, Durat’s materials are crafted from recycled post-industrial plastics, significantly reducing the ecological footprint by minimizing waste and avoiding the depletion of natural resources. These surfaces are eco-friendly and fully recyclable at their life’s end, promoting a sustainable lifecycle.

Durat’s materials have the potential to outperform traditional options in terms of durability and ease of maintenance. While granite is robust, it can crack under severe impact and requires periodic sealing to prevent staining. Quartz, though less prone to staining, can suffer damage from excessive heat. Laminate, although versatile, is vulnerable to scratches, chips, and heat damage. In stark contrast, Durat surfaces are engineered for resilience and longevity, capable of withstanding wear, impact, and high temperatures without compromising their structural integrity or appearance. Their non-porous nature ensures they’re hygienic, easy to clean, and resistant to bacterial growth, making them ideal for both bustling commercial environments and busy home kitchens.

While traditional materials are often constrained by the availability of natural patterns and colors, Durat offers a refreshing alternative with its diverse range of over 300 colors, complemented by distinctive grit effects that create dynamic and continuously evolving patterns. This vast palette provides remarkable creative freedom, enabling designers and architects to precisely tailor their projects, pushing the boundaries of design aesthetics from the minimalistic to the avant-garde. These materials are lighter and more adaptable than their stone counterparts, simplifying the installation process and making repairs and refinishing easier. They also appeal to a wide array of consumers and professionals. Eco-conscious consumers and businesses appreciate Durat’s commitment to environmental stewardship, aligning perfectly with their sustainability practices. The durability and hygienic properties of Durat surfaces make them ideal for high-traffic areas like schools, hospitals, and retail spaces, where facility managers need long-lasting, easy-to-maintain solutions. Additionally, the ease of installation and maintenance makes Durat a favored choice among DIY enthusiasts, enhancing its popularity for home improvement projects and allowing for reduced installation costs while maintaining the material’s pristine condition over time.

This dedication ensures Durat’s solid surfaces meet today’s design professionals’ aesthetic and functional needs while also contributing positively to environmental conservation, positioning Durat as a leader in the future of sustainable modern design.

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3D-Printed from food-grade silicone, Reusable is a collapsable, pocket-friendly cup you can carry anywhere

Recycle and Reuse have become the buzzwords today. Most materials – single-use plastic excluded – are being recycled, and some plastic items such as bottles are reused to restrict them from reaching the landfills. Plastic pollution is therefore a big menace globally that designers are trying to solve with potentially innovative ideas. In that league we came across the Reusable: a collapsable, reusable cup that is made from food-grade material and fits right in your pocket so you can carry it wherever your routine takes you.

Disposable paper cups have been around for a long time now. Not essentially made with the purpose of being reused, such cups have to reach the landfills after one time use. All right, some of these to-go cups are recyclable, but some paper cups contain a plastic or wax coating – to prevent leaks – rending their unrecyclable. This is where a solution like the Reusable makes a lot of sense, not essentially because it can be recycled at the end of life, but since it can be reused a multitude of times before it can be retired from the lifecycle.

Designer: Kalina Gotseva

The brainchild of British-designed Kalina Gotseva, the Reusable has been 3D printed from durable, food-grade silicone. Made in a unique twisted design, after thousands of iterations on paper and other materials, the Reusable is made collapsable, transforming the cup from a full-sized option to a compact form factor that allows it to fit in the pocket.

Making a silicone cup with all the intricacies to make it reusable, the cup is a direct benefit product for millions of tea and coffee drinkers around the world, whose day wouldn’t start with the pipping hot beverage picked from the driveway in a throwaway one time use cup. This scenario could change with the benefit of Reusable which you can flip out of your pocket and have your drink served to you in it.

With the foldable and reusable design, the question of safety and convenience does arise in the mind. Gotseva has taken care of every detail, starting with making the entire foldable design self-contained. For that, the designer ensured that the body of the cup folds down flat and it can then fit securely in its cap to remain intact and dust-free in your pocket/bag. The protective cap is not just the Reusable’s case, in fact it has a tested push-and-pull slider on the drinking hole, which offers leak-proof convenience, so you can carry and drink your beverage safely, at your convenience.

The Reusable despite all the nifty features has sleek aesthetics paired with an ergonomic grip and three interesting color choices to pick a cup that matches your style. Created from BPA-free silicone, the cups are colored – with food-safe options – during the injection molding process. These are available in dark blue, light aquamarine, and vibrant orange colors to choose from. I don’t know about you, but I’m waiting for the Reusable to hit the market. My pick is orange, what’s yours?

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Geometric chair concept almost looks like an Escherian optical illusion

Chairs can come in all shapes and sizes. Some can take on complicated and organic forms, while others can be extremely minimalist or even brutally raw. They can range from designs that take inspiration from nature to those that adhere to simpler geometric shapes. The Euclid concept is one of the latter, aptly named after the ancient Greek mathematician. But while it draws its shape from a simple cube, its execution sparks a bit of wonder and curiosity as it resembles more the skeleton or wireframe of the shape, represented by almost unbroken lines that are reminiscent of Escher’s famed optical illusion, the impossible cube.

Designer: Sonakshi Gupta

Admittedly, it’s a bit difficult to see the Euclid chair as a cube, since most of us have this idea of a cube as having 12 lines that are all connected at eight corners to form six faces. Then again, that popular Escher object already shows an impossible depiction of that shape, and those familiar with that print might see some of that characteristic in this chair when viewed from certain angles. Overall, it creates a dynamic form that has your eyes following the lines and moving all over the place, sometimes confused about where the front and back sides are.

Its unique form isn’t the only notable thing about this concept, however. Its use of reclaimed wood gives it more than a sustainable character. That material, in a way, carries some history from what it was before becoming a part of this chair. Even if that past is unknown to the new owner, simply knowing it has one could give each Euclid chair its own unique charm.

And then there’s the method used to bring all the pieces together. Instead of requiring screws or even glue, a mortise and tenon joinery is used to provide stability without introducing complicated mechanisms. In theory, this could make it easy to later take the chair apart if some pieces need to be replaced, though that could also start to weaken the connection over time if done too frequently.

The Euclid concept chair offers a design that is minimalist, sustainable, and visually interesting. Whereas a cube is pretty much the epitome of symmetry, the missing edges and disconnected faces give the chair a bit more volatility. That said, it doesn’t seem like the most comfortable chair to sit on. Even if you put a cushion on the seat, the hard edges of the armrest and especially the backrest could give your body some grief after a long period of time.

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Sustainable office chair uses paper-like material made from wood by-products

Sustainable furniture and designs are thankfully becoming more common, but the “sustainable” label can actually be applied to different things. They can be made from recycled materials like metal or PCR plastics, or they can be made from new but biodegradable materials like wood, cork, and paper. While both kinds are good, they don’t always address the accumulating material waste that comes from the production of these objects, even the bits and pieces of wood that get left on the cutting room floor and then thrown out. Giving a new purpose to these by-products is another sustainable practice, one that is being applied to a beautifully minimalist office chair that’s made from dozens of sheets of paper.

Designer: Arper

Of course, it’s not literally made from paper, which would be too soft for a chair no matter how many sheets you stack, especially for a sleek and slender seat based on Arper’s iconic Catifa 53. Instead, it uses PaperShell from a Swedish startup of the same name, a material that almost poetically transforms paper, which comes from wood, back to a wood-like material that offers rigidity, stability, and, more importantly, beauty. In a nutshell, it uses both wood by-products like sawdust and chips as well as waste wood like fallen branches in forests to create a new paper-like material that can be used in place of wood, plastic, or fiber composites.

That’s the case with the Catifa Carta, which compresses dozens of these sheets into a composite that’s then bent and formed into an elegant chair with a gentle slope sitting on top of thin yet sturdy metal legs. Unlike its older sibling, this more sustainable version of the chair leaves the seat in its original, unpainted glory. That means you can see the natural imperfections of the PaperShell material, giving each chair a unique character. It’s pretty much the same as the highly prized grains in wood that give designs their natural charm.

What’s even more special about the chair is that even the end of its life has a story to tell. PaperShell can be recycled to produce new and different products, but it can also be turned into biochar to nourish the Earth. The material itself sequesters carbon dioxide which can be used to enrich soil. It’s a truly circular life cycle that starts and ends with the Earth. Appropriately, Arper has made the Catifa Carta easy to disassemble to make this process even easier.

Of course, the chair isn’t just a thing of beauty inside and out, it’s also a functional piece of furniture. Though some might have concerns about the ergonomics of using such a chair for long periods at work, it’s still a well-designed seat that makes you feel good not only about sitting on it but also about the exciting journey that this wood-like material has made since its birth from a seed.

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3D printed recycled wood could kickstart another design industry revolution

3D printing blasted the doors of creativity wide open by allowing almost anyone and everyone to create complex designs on demand. That market started with different kinds of plastic but soon supported other materials as well, including metal and even chocolate. The popularity of this style of design and production, however, also meant a surge in material waste, especially different kinds of non-recyclable plastics. There is a greater need for more sustainable alternatives, one that can perhaps even support a fully circular lifecycle. There is perhaps no better material that meets those requirements than wood, which is why this new 3D printed wooden partition screens and window coverings could very well represent the breakthrough that the design industry needs.

Designer: Aectual

Designers have a soft spot for natural, sustainable materials and wood is perhaps one of if not the most favored one. It is easily sourced, though not quickly replenished, has unique aesthetics and textures, and can decompose safely. That said, it’s not easy to form wood into complex shapes and structures, even if you carve out the design, and the material isn’t exactly easily reusable even after being recycled. This new 3D printed wood addresses all those shortcomings, offering an almost perfect material for bringing intricate, sustainable designs to life.

This sustainable new material is itself made from wood waste blended with some natural ingredients such as lignin and cellulose. It is then reinforced using vegetable fibers like flax or hemp to give it the same durability you’d expect from wood. The result is a composition that doesn’t just look like wood but also feels like the real thing. In fact, it even smells like real wood, a trait that’s hard to reproduce on other synthetic wood alternatives.

Aectual’s material, however, does something even better than wood. After a 3D printed wooden product reaches the end of its life, it can be shredded and then reprinted into some other or the same form. This creates a truly circular lifecycle where the material is reborn again and again as long as it retains its integrity and stability. And when it can no longer be reused, it still degrades and decomposes safely just like ordinary wood.

Of course, it’s a 3D printed material, so it’s almost trivial to create structures and shapes that would be extremely difficult if not impossible with regular wood. You can have intricate repeating patterns that join together with no visible seams, or alternating shapes that are made as a whole rather than composed piece by piece. It might be too early to claim a complete victory, as the process of creating this 3D printed wooden material might still be too involved and too costly, but it’s definitely a great start in producing a viable alternative to designers’ most-loved material.

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This aluminum bench stands on the shoulders of discarded Mac Pro cases

Apple is not a big fan of reusing its products for something else, at least something that is still close to the original function of the design. It probably won’t object to completely unrelated applications of those designs, especially when it’s for a creative and artistic purpose. The non-functional parts of an iPhone, for example, could be disassembled and framed to be displayed as a piece of tech history. Or one might simply take the empty shells of old Mac Pro and turn them into a piece of structural art, which is exactly what this rather striking metal bench tries to accomplish in a way that will probably make you wonder how strong those old Apple desktops might have been.

Designers: Quinner Baird, Alec Alborg, Ferb Liebana, Berit Levy, Jaime Uriarte (Caliper)

The designs for more recent Mac Pros have been rather controversial, to say the least. The cylindrical 2013 was derided for looking like a trash can, while the boxy 2019 design, though a bit more traditional, is jokingly called a cheese grater. Neither are good foundations for a stable piece of furniture, but the first-ever Mac Pro fortunately fits the bill perfectly. It was a minimalist brushed aluminum box with tapered legs on the front and back to raise it up and equally tapered handles on those same sides for easier lifting.

Made for Manhattan clothing brand Hidden as part of store display, the Mac Pro Bench is exactly what it sounds like. It takes two first-gen Mac Pros, totally gutted of any and all electronic components, and has a folded aluminum plank attached on top. The plan has a tapered shape that fits perfectly between the front and back handles, making it feel as if the desktops were made for this very purpose. Two versions of the bench exist, one preserving the brushed aluminum aesthetic of the Mac Pro, and another thoroughly coated in Hidden’s green motif.

It’s not being sold en masse, which will probably keep Apple’s lawyers happy, though there are also ways to make your own. That said, it’s probably not a good idea outside of making it a decorative piece. It’s actually not tested how much weight the Mac Pros will be able to handle, especially with a bench meant to sit more than one person. The hollow legs of the desktop don’t look reassuring either, and it might have been more practical to have sawed those off, even if it meant ruining the original Mac Pro shape.

That said, it’s possible to reinforce the foundations of the Mac Pro Bench to make it a more usable piece of furniture. More importantly, however, the piece of art could also spark the imagination and creativity of others to make similar designs that reuse discarded desktop PCs in a less conventional and more interesting manner.

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