Although sadly ignored by industries worldwide, the concept of using leftover fabrics and materials to create brand new products with has been around forever. It wasn’t long ago that we delved into the world of Boro, a traditional Japanese technique that’s both sustainable and fashionable.
By refusing to let material go to waste, the Japanese created entire outfits out of discarded fabrics. But what happens when we transport the ethos of Boro from the land of the rising sun to the land of Tulips?
Dutch designer Pepe Heykoopwas born in 1984 and founded his ‘Studio Pepe Heykoop’ in Amsterdam after graduating from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2008. His work is an excellent example of the Dutch Design movement that’s equal parts minimalist, innovative, experimental and fun.
With a focus on low-tech techniques and sustainability, Pepe creates a variety of quirky designs at his Amsterdam studio. Both art and design, his ‘Skin Collection’ of furniture carries inside it the heart of Japanese Boro’s endless cycle of material mending.
Although more and more furniture vendors are choosing to go green (even if an upcycled furniture business is still missing), the amount of waste produced by the furniture is still staggering. It’s no wonder that Pepe Heykoop’s ‘Skin Collection’ furniture is an explicit reaction to that waste.
Leather, especially, can be an extremely fickle material, subject to a lot of unexpected elements which could destine entire batches to the waste heap: an unwanted organic shape in the leather, structural damage, scars, scratches and even discoloration can condemn perfectly useable materials.
Marketing mass produced furniture demands consistency and prohibits truly unique design, but Pepe Heykoop knows that furniture in and of itself doesn’t have to obey those rules.
Pepe takes discarded furniture and objects to use as a base for a brand new creation. By utilizing the leather scraps deemed ‘worthless’ by the industry, Heykoop creates a leather ‘skin’ around these discarded objects. The colors and texture evoke nature reclaiming these pieces of furniture, and the random patterns seem to refer to the cell structures seen in nature.
Of course, none of it is random. Each piece of leather waste is combined and applied by hand, giving new life and a new look to deserted materials.
The ‘Skin Collection’ is a unique example of waste being turned into wonder: re-appropriating, re-using and re-purposing leather remnants and wood scrap furniture. But the concept goes beyond just a quirky look, it makes the point that gets ignored by almost every production industry: the leftovers from your industry can serve a purpose. It just takes a creative mind.