Upcycled Furniture line rolls out at Mississippi Ave Street Fair

Upcycling utilizes materials otherwise left behind, rendered useless in their original intent.  By creating new pieces made of reclaimed barnwood, retired school bleachers, vintage locker baskets and rusty steel piping, we can give industrial materials slated as waste a new purpose: Upcycled Furniture.

Hammer & Hand and bright designlab have joined forces to build fresh and sustainable furniture as part of Hammer & Hand’s new Upcycled Furniture line: a coffee table made from a disassembled barn once located in Woodburn, Oregon; a shelf made from bleachers that students sat on for years. Each unique piece is derived from found items, sourced and fabricated locally.

“Upcycled Furniture is a step above recycling because we’re not burning energy to break materials down. Instead, we’re reassembling,” says Alissa Pulcrano, partner at bright designlab.  “It’s the antithesis of the constant need to upgrade with new products.”

The upcycling trend has created an entirely new market of goods for people who prefer to shop greener and more local.  Upcycling was first termed in 1994 by Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH as he advocated for giving old products more value instead of less: “upcycling” instead of the “downcycling” of conventional recycling.  Now the practice has reached wildfire proportions and awareness, with Portland, Oregon situated as a central hotspot in the burgeoning movement.

Hammer & Hand has been a key player in this movement for 15 years, collecting the beautiful bones of local homes and barns that otherwise would have ended up as pellet stove fuel or in the dump and storing them to bring them back to life one day.  The multi-disciplinary designers of bright designlab, with their passion for reassembling otherwise “washed up” items, have created the designs to give these materials a second life.  The fine craftspeople of Hammer & Hand fabricate the furniture.

“We’re talking about century-old barn timbers that have aged and hardened over the decades. This wood has a memory of every nail, every horse’s kick, every piled-on year of hard use,” says Daniel Thomas, owner of Hammer & Hand. “We reveal that character with careful selection and exacting craftsmanship.”

Hammer & Hand and bright designlab will preview their two new furniture line prototypes, STaCK and WRaP, at Mississippi Ave Street Fair on July 10, 2010 from 10a-9p on N. Mississippi Ave. in Portland, Oregon.  STaCK is industrial modern, made up of  a stack of steel piping, reclaimed bleacher wood, and vintage locker baskets enclosed in colorful cubes.  WRaP is simple in form, with clean angles handcrafted of reclaimed barnwood, enveloped by steel, and wrapped in modern colors of citrus, steel, siren, and robin.

“Taking a piece of old growth lumber that served a utilitarian purpose for a hundred years and creating furniture that could easily last another hundred- now that does it for me.” says Thomas.  “Upcycled Furniture is about building real sustainability.”

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