patchwork materials – a revived sustainable style

oliver Furniture, General

As you may know, I have a deep love of patchworked materials. So when I saw the Olympic Memory Boat project, it struck a chord with me. The project conveys everything about using patchwork that I believe in: efficiency of material use, a sense of narrative, and cultural and social history. The project was set up by artists Gary Winters and Greg Whelan, who sought wooden donations for building the boat. The criteria were that the objects had to be made from wood and had to have a story behind them.





Donations included a section of Brighton’s West Pier, a Victorian police truncheon and a hairbrush used by make-up artists at Pinewood Studios in the 1960s. There’s even a bit from one of music god Jimi Hendrix’s guitars on the tiller. It’s a fantastic project and I’m sure you’ll agree that the finished boat looks simply stunning.





On a slightly smaller scale are these tables by furniture maker Tristan Titeux. Frustrated by the wood his company purchased but never used, Tristan began his ReCut series made from wasted off cuts and salvaged material from other furniture. The Milo table (named after his youngest son) is a really beautiful square coffee table randomly constructed from other unused bits of wood. Tristan is really mindful of where the materials he uses have come from, saying: “Think of what chemicals were used to produce it and how that might affect the environment. Then think of the farmer and the chemicals he might be breathing in, or the neighbours and passers by bordering the fields.”





In a similar way, London-based Norwegian artist Amy Hunting uses off cuts to make a whole range of really beautiful furniture. The wood is all collected from Danish factories and glued together without screws or bolts. The finished product looks incredible.






On a slightly softer note, let’s look at some fabric patchwork. And what better place to start than these fantastic chairs by Tal R? They were designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the egg chair, originally designed by Arne Jacobsen for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. Have you ever seen the iconic chair looking this good? Tal R said: “We wanted to create something special to celebrate the golden anniversary of this legendary design.”





Working on the theory that one twig is easy to snap, but ten twigs tied together is a hundred times stronger, Canadian designer Brent Comber has created these geometric designs. Once the branches are bundled, they can be cut into any number of shapes to make chairs, benches or tables.







And if you needed any further proof that the term ‘waste wood’ was a massive misnomer, then look at these beautiful tables by Rik Ruigrok. I really love this kind of patchwork wood effect. And knowing that it’s saved loads of wood from landfill sites makes it even better.





The good news it’s happening all over the world. Bart Bettencourt and Carlos Salgado are doing the same thing in New York that’s happening all over the UK and Europe. Their collection, called Scrapile, is well worth a look.





It’s not just wood and fabric that makes great patchwork. One of the things I love most about it is that you can use more or less any material. As these glass bottle patchworks by Max Jacquard stylishly prove. Reminiscent of classic stained glass, the different hues and shades of the pressed bottles is something I really like.





And if you like your patchwork a little more political, this table by Benjamin Rollins Caldwell comes with a clear social message. The ‘Label Whore Low Table’ is made from the reused leather labels from designer jeans. Caldwell loves to “reinterpret a material’s original purpose” and everyday objects act as a catalyst for his inspiration. It’s certainly a great piece and a very original idea.





There’s something about piecing together something new from lots of other used or discarded materials that really appeals to me. I hope it has the same effect on you too.