Co.Design

Food Packaging Gets A Second Life As Outdoor Furniture

Stephen Burks teams up with Dedon to create a lightweight collection with a unique weave.

Stephen Burks is a man committed to responsible design. The New York-based founder of Readymade Projects has championed socially conscious, sustainable practices through passion projects with Aid To Artisans and the Nature Conservancy, his Man Made exhibition, as well as collaborations with bold name brands like Moroso, Artecnica, and Ligne Roset. "It’s a very difficult process to bring industrial innovation and a contemporary design language to certain places in the world, while at the same time finding international distribution that essentially allows the livelihood of these craft traditions to be extended into the future," Burks tells Co.Design. Dala, a new line of outdoor furniture he’s developed with Dedon, manages to strike that delicate balance between culturally rich, environmentally sound, and commercially viable.

The collection is organized around the concept of "improvised seating," a casual approach to gathering that encourages rearranging the pieces to suit the space and mood; so if the patio’s where the party’s at, you can easily maneuver the oversized lounge chair to sit in on the action, or if the beach is bumping, it’s easy enough to take the stool with you (if you’re lucky enough to live nearby). The hollow pieces, which also include ottoman and side table, have lightweight aluminum frames, woven through with a unique synthetic fiber—developed by Dedon—that’s composed of recycled food-and-drink packaging mixed with recyclable polyethylene. "The weaving was developed to combine the surface and structure of the furniture in order to eliminate material to reduce the weight and waste of the pieces," Burks explains. "The pattern is somewhat random to allow for variation by the weavers," who he worked with directly at the company’s community-minded factory in the Philippines. "The colors represent the different sites of outdoor furniture and the names refer to them: Sea, blues with white structure; Grass, greens with green structure; and Fire, reds with black structure." Sure beats a backyard barbeque perched at a splintered picnic table.

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