Thursday, 19 April 2012


Sustainable designers explain how we could restyle our old objects. 

by Cecilia Anesi 


Unwaste aims to recycle low-value items of furniture, and give them their soul back. It also aims, though, at placing the designer in a special spot within the community, providing him with the crucial role of being the one who can influence the behaviour of consumers positively. 

Unwaste is the brain child of Luca Binaglia and Silvia Ramalli, two Italian graduates of Industrial Design at the University of Florence. The team views Unwaste as a beautiful, sustainable and original (including the neologism of the title) project. 

In the designers’ mind, the word ‘unwaste’ stands for ‘before wasting’. They define the project as a ‘poetic upcycling design’ ( Poetic because the two authors’ will be giving objects a voice, through imagining objects have got a soul and – with their new styling - a story to tell. Upcycling stands for the process of re-designing the functionality and the aesthetic of the object, which otherwise would have been destined to landfill and which this way can be reborn as a new object. 

It is in fact rather a recovery than a recycling process. This is the guiding principle of Unwaste. It begins with the awareness that recycling needs big investments of energy and has thus an environmental impact, whereas re-thinking the aesthetic means liberating the object from further industrial production. Unwaste does in fact release the potential of each object. And the restyled objects seem to vibrate as silent witnesses of past experiences. 

This is how unwanted objects become attractive resources and inputs for ideas on how to reuse things ‘before wasting’ them. The object’s recovery process foresees also a presentation frontpage, through which the object shall stimulate curiosity in each of us. The Unwaste team wants us to look at old and used stuff around us with some unprecedented interest. This is the final aim of Luca Binaglia and Silvia Ramalli: turning the recovery of objects into art. 

That said, let’s meet some of Unwaste’s objects. The first one is called Cristopher, a former rocking chair now revitalised by colourful shoe laces, that, after having been around for infinite walks have finally found a way to relax. 

The second one, Renata is an object which Unwaste presented at the Fuori Salone 2011 (a collateral event of the Furniture Exhibition in Milano, Italy), granting it plenty of success. In the creators’ minds, Renata presents itself as a pretty sofa which, following vain-fashion, changes cloth every season. 

The third object is Selenio, a bedside table which was previously abandoned by his owner who  hadn’t understood its potential. Selenio is today able to let us hang our memories and thoughts on it, thanks to the simple addition of pins conceived by the designers.  


Stecco is the newest creature of the Unwaste project and will be presented in Milano at the Fuori Salone (17-23 April). Today Stecco is a lamp, once upon the time it was a simple chair. It looks a bit like a locust, ready to jump towards new adventures. 


Unwaste objects are all slightly mad, admits every person who likes them. In fact, as Luca Binaglia says: “They are created to have new functions. Created to be original. Aesthetically attractive. They hold cultural values within them. They are suggestions for a cultural change. They propose a new way of watching and living. Sustainability.”

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