The ethical-oriented state-of-the-art upcycle wave also allows the interior industry in Europe to be creatively reused in furniture

The upcycle concept of giving waste a second life pervades clothing, food and housing. Romée de la Bigne, one of the co-founders of the French interior brand Maximum, started the brand with the idea of designing furniture from the materials at hand. To him, waste is “gift from heaven.” Up to now, their products are sold out immediately at the concept store Merci in Paris. For example, the chests are used carbon honeycomb panels that did not pass the quality inspection which was manufactured for the interior material of the Airbus A350, and also the chairs are used colored powder from an excess inventory of the plastic molding factory. Currently, Maximum has opened a new architectural office and is beginning to work on construction using surplus materials.

Morgane Gloaguen, director of 43 bis Creations based in Nantes in western France, began to think about current environmental issues during her career change. She has always loved DIY and interior production, what made her to launch the business is that she won the interior production contest for bourgeoisie. The idea is to turn a waste flower pot into a lamp, a suitcase into a shelf, and the metal part of a drum-type washing machine into a coffee table.

Joan Roca is also one of enthusiastic people about upcycle, the chef of El Celler de Can Roca which took over the first position in 50 Best Restaurants in the World in 2013 and 2015 from Noma in Denmark. He started the project called Roca Recicla, which reuses opened glass bottles of drinks at his restaurant into ashtrays, cups, vases, and figurines. In addition, his workshop gets attention because it actively accepts employment of women in exclusion risk due to long term unemployment and more than 45 years old in order to support reintegration into society. 

”not stuffy and boring” is the common consciousness of young entrepreneurs

In the UK, Lynne Lambourne, an interior designer based in Oxfordshire in southeast England, is actively working on waste issues in the interior industry. Producing interior goods and furniture using waste collected from landfills, and appeared a popular interior design competition program by the BBC several times since 2014. She continues to appear in The Great Interior Design Challenge in 2019, and won numerous awards including Grand Designs Live Interior Designer of the Year. The interior, which is decorated with items that were upcycled from second-hand and waste, is highly regarded along with her philosophy of sustainability. She is known as “Warrior of Waste”, and recently gardening incorporating upcycle ideas such as potting yogurt and egg packs transform into potted plants and using banana peel to care for the leaves of foliage plants. She also makes films for children on marine pollution issues including plastic pollution. In an interview with the web magazine Plastic Patrol, her aim is “to inspire then to want to be part of a movement for good but that is not stuffy and boring” she said. 

A common idea among companies that tackle waste problems is that they are not stuffy and boring, as Lynne says. That is also the factor that the new generation of entrepreneurs is driving to improve waste problems. There are certain restrictions on the action of upcycling waste, but it is also true that can be a trigger to maximize the creator’s creativity. In addition, consumers now seek emotional value rather than functional value such as goods and services, and have come to regard unique stories, concepts, and original  worldviews as added value. Now, it is likely to increase upcycled waste products demand.


Elie Inoue

Paris-based journalist, born in Osaka, Japan, in 1989. Having a dream of living abroad since she took a trip to Europe with her mother when she was 12 years old. After graduating from Mukogawa Women’s University, she started living in New York City and gained experience as a fashion journalist and coordinator.The more involved in fashion, the more she was strongly drawn to European fashion culture and history, then she moved into Paris in 2016. Currently, she has been covering fashion weeks in various cities, interviews with fashion designers, as well as working on lifestyle, culture, and politics.