Pulp Fact not Fiction: Some Incredible Recycled Uses for Paper

oliver Furniture, Materials, Recycling / upcycling, Technology/ Energy Saving

They said we’d have a paperless office by now. Well, perhaps my design studio has yet to hit the 21st century because we’re still awash with the stuff. Obviously we try to keep the desks clean by recycling as much as we can…regularly. But what if we were to think of paper as a product we could do more with than simply print, scribble and write on – before recycling it?


With the arrival of Frank Gehry’s new fantastical paper stage set for the Los Angeles Philarmonic, I wanted take a look at some of the other ways that we can reuse this material in smaller more practical ways.



It seems that many designers are now looking to bring this once ephemeral material into the home and to beautiful effect. New techniques and technologies (such as low energy, low temperature LED light bulbs) means that paper can now go where it once would have been little more than a huge fire hazard.

Berlin-based designers Katja Hettler and Jula Tüllmann created the Paper Planet collection to play with people’s minds. Some pieces look like they couldn’t possibly be made out of paper. One chair looks like it was made from old rope, while another looks to be manufactured from strips of cloth. In fact, the folded paper lamps are the only recognisably paper-made objects in the whole collection. Describing their line the two designers said: “Our understanding is that non-synthetic materials do inherit a sensual, warm and haptic environment.”



Speaking of paper lamps, how about this really stunning paper lampshade from Zipper8Lighting? It’s constructed from hundreds of mini paper fortune-tellers (the origami-like things you used to see in the school playground that told you who you were going to marry etc) in an 18-inch geometric spherical shape. When used with a low heat from an LED bulb it creates a really warm and inviting glow.





Dutch company moooi has updated their paper furniture collection based on the craft of papier-mâché by the designers at studio job.

In collaboration with moooi, the designers have used the industrial process of papier-mâché to create these stunning pieces of furniture, with reference to a more traditional design style. Layers of paper and glue have been applied to honeycomb cardboard, drying into a solid composition and thus redeveloping traditional construction methods. Ingenious.



The Honeycomb Paper Lamp by Kouichi Okamoto is made from Denguri paper and crafted into a complex, yet simple looking design. The honeycomb structure diffuses the light from the bulb making it softer and perfect for reading by. As with all these paper lamps, you need a low heat LED bulb for safety reasons.



And for a Byzantine twist in your living room, these Paper Table Lamps by Fiyel Levent will cast a beautiful warm glow. They are laser cut with traditional patterns from watercolour paper, to allow light to shine through.



Now lamps and lighting might be one new area for paper (made possible by new light bulb technology) but not many of us would not have imagined using recycled paper to make bricks. But that’s exactly what Hannah Lobley has done. Inspired after she left an old book out in the rain, Hannah uses compressed layers of paper to make multiple objects for commercial and residential use, such as these beautiful plates.



Again working on the principle that paper gets stronger the second time it is used, these pieces of furniture have all been created using recycled paper. Durability might not be something we associated with paper, but use it in the correct way and it can be really tough. And I think you’ll agree that these pieces look great too, as well as being totally functional.


With newspaper being one of the most readily available recyclable materials on the planet it has often amazed me that more people haven’t worked with it before. So, I’m really glad to see it being put to good use to make these baskets. When weaved, wrapped or folded, newspaper can become incredibly strong, and it looks great too.  If you are lacking in the DIY craft know how, pop down to John Lewis who have this simple but pretty recycled newspaper bin.




Newspaper is one of many paper products that are being reused to impressive effect. Sticking with the waster paper bin idea, why not give it a go yourself and try making one? Here is a useful blog showing you how to make this practical bin out of old Maps.



You could even use the basket you make to store your newspapers for recycling – now that really is completing the circle - call it a paper round!