When it comes to taking something old and making it new again, taking the less complicated route often yields the most dramatic results.
Take, for instance, the work of Dutch-born, Helsinki-based product designer/photographer Willem Heeffer. His new collection of “clean conscience” Drum Lamps are still very much old washing machine drums — no amount of overwrought upcycling magic can completely obscure that fact. Instead of distorting and concealing his source material to make it completely unrecognizable, Heeffer simply employs powder coating with a matching fabric braided electricity cable and voila — a washing machine drum lamp is born.
Heeffer says: "When I work with old materials I take them out of context, use it in an unexpected way to create something new. The goal is to first see a beautiful product after which you discover the history behind it. Only then the products are no longer viewed as trash and have become design pieces."
On his website, Heeffer goes on to explain that this is “an up-cycled product is founded on three principles: locally sourced and recycled materials, hand made to the highest standard and transforming or reinventing to something which totally disconnects from its past.”
I’d have to disagree with that last bit. When I look at the Drum Lamps, I see an upcycled product that’s still very much connected to its past and, to me at least, that's what makes it beautiful — being able to clearly identify and recognize its former rather unglamorous function while appreciating its new role.
In the creation of the simply executed yet dramatic lamps, Heeffer scoured local recycling centers for old washing machines with salvageable drums; he describes securing the drums and removing them from the machines as an “labor intensive” act. Even the machine’s drive wheel is given a new life as housing for the 55W circular fluorescent tube within the drum (an LED version is also available). Each lamp is outfitted with a light diffusing acrylic sheet. All and all, 90 percent of each Drum Lamp is made from reused materials.
Available in a half-dozen different colors ranging from a bold “retro orange” to a more subtle “slate gray,” the Drum Lamps are available
directly through Heeffer’s website for 310 euros a pop. And for something a bit more cheeky and kitchen- or dining room-ready, Heeffer also offers pendant lamps made from recycled cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup and Heinz baked beans along with old drums of vegetable oil.
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