In 2013, designer Francois Duquesnoy moved from Eindhoven, where he was a student at Design Academy Eindhoven, to Berlin, and then to Normandy. As anyone who’s changed homes knows, moving furniture is a royal pain.
Duquesnoy decided to try living sustainably as a nomad (he's moved eight times in the past few years) and gave himself a week to make his own furniture from discarded materials he found in each new neighborhood. The result, a collection of trash furniture called "Collectables," is as whimsical as you might imagine, but it's also surprisingly functional. There's a table with a tennis racket cross beam, a chair made from a bicycle wheel, and a desk fabricated from plastic crates found on the beach.
“The time limit demanded a fast and hands-on approach—designing and creating on the spot,” Duquesnoy tells Co.Design. After driving to his new city with nothing but clothes and tools, he’d scour the area for trash that could be turned to treasure. “Everything that I came across and which seemed useful, I took with me,” he says. “Within a week I gathered enough waste materials to create a complete interior for my new house.”
After pulling together these ad hoc pieces, Duquesnoy painted them all a single hue. Each of the three sets of furniture from his three separate addresses doubles as a portrait of a city defined by its waste and reveals the artistic and functional possibilities of what appears to be useless or just plain garbage.
Duquesnoy believes that if you’ve got a tight budget and you're sick of Ikea, you too can make your own trash furniture. “Don't feel embarrassed to take trash or waste materials from the street,” Duquesnoy says. “Sometimes you find stuff and you don't know what to do with it, but if you feel it could be useful somehow, just take it.” Concerned about sorting it out your goods and figuring out what fits together? “Don't plan anything, don't design anything before. Just think about what you would like to make, or what you need, like a chair, and see how you can make it with what you have,” Duquesnoy stresses. In a world of rampant overconsumption and overflowing landfills, there's certainly no shortage of materials begging to be repurposed.
"Collectables" is on view at Self Unself at the Collective Design Fair in New York, an exhibit of work from Design Academy Eindhoven, from May 8 to 11.