4 ways with upcycling

The way the world is heading, it’s time to re-imagine our waste and find innovative ways to reappropriate the things around us. Joburg based interior designer Bronwyn Cane is a huge proponent of upcycling, and she believes the world is full of amazing materials that are ready to be turned into something beautiful. ‘The great thing about upcycling is that the objects and materials already exist and they have a context, or a meaning that is associated with them. The idea of upcycling is to strip that away from the objects and to find a new meaning, a new use, and a new function for the materials of objects.’ Bronwyn explains that you can become creative by constantly looking for sophisticated new ways to use and re-use objects you have taken for granted as only having one type of use or application in this world.   1. Parquet flooring ‘Parquet flooring has always been used on the floor, but by using it on walls you can create a new meaning for the material,’ says Bronwyn. She did exactly this at a store she designed in Northcliff, and the effect is both rough-edged and charming. She added an extra dimension by leaving the glue-cladded side facing outward.  ‘Turning it into wall cladding changes the function of the parquet, and makes for a simple way to add a unique pattern and a new texture to the walls.’   2. Timber pallets Bronwyn is a huge fan of timber pallets. ‘You can strip them down and use them as wall cladding, or to create new pieces of furniture. For example, I created a glass display case using pallets in a residential loft I worked on, and it created a tactile texture and a unique feature.’ Bronwyn also pointed out an impressive stacking staircase made entirely from pallets, as well as a swing bench made from the disassembled wooden planks of pallets.   3. Crates Timber and plastic crates can both be used in creative ways, giving them a completely new and often urban function. Bronwyn loves the way Cape Town’s Bird Café uses cushion-cladded plastic crates as chairs, and adds that creative and new ideas for seating are a great way to upcycle. Timber crates also make for easy seating solutions, and, because of their rustic charm, can be used in quite diverse ways. Bronwyn showed us how they can be used as vertical gardens or as stylish shelving.   4. Upcycled light fittings ‘Another area that has great potential for upcycling is light fittings. Design and shape old electrical conduiting for a striking industrial look, or use found objects such as cake moulds, whisks or pretty glasses to transform your hanging bulb into a work of art. See more of Bronwyn Cane’s work at bronmarycane.withtank.com or call her on 071-157-5844 for a consultation.   Text: Roberta Coci