Curious Trends


Retroprogressive sculpture: low tech design art and home accessories

Discarded waste, such as old household appliances, circuit boards and junk that would otherwise be destined for landfill sites is increasingly being upcycled into works of art and sculpture by designers the world over. In the words of Catherine Videlaine, “Nothing should be thrown away once and for all. Objects carry memories.” Thus, broken dolls, retro toys, old musical instruments and scrap from cars have been reinvented into pieces or art or useful home accessories, including lighting, tables and chairs:

Bill Woodrow, currently showing at the Waddington Galleries (until April 16th), has been making sculptures using discarded household appliances since the early 1980s. His upcycled creations include bicycle frames, old spin dryers, car doors and other materials found on the street, or from rubbish dumps. Woodrow finds these items ‘unpredictable’ and says is is ‘energizing’ to recycle them into new forms with added associations.

Car Door, Armchair and Incident, 1981 (above), was a response to the violence that Woodrow saw in the media. The metal from a cut-out car door becomes a shot gun.; an old, battered armchair is blasted and a violent explosion of armchair debris hits the wall and floor behind.

Jean Bourdier is the creator of eccentric mixed media sculptures and lamps (above), designed from his imagination, or to commission.

Catherine Videlaine uses old accordions and vacuum cleaners to create quirky sculpture and lighting. She doesn’t break the objects used into parts as, “that way I keep alive their identity, their past history.” She claims that, “deconstructed objects are seen under a different light and acquire a certain glamour…” She gives them another chance in life – a new future – and supplies a ‘personal booklet’ with each piece.

At Wired, Liat Clark reported on Steven Rodrig’s nature inspired circuit board sculpture (as previously featured in numerous specialist blogs):

Rodrig explained “I knew that with a bit of imagination and the right PCBs, any organic form could be made from these inorganic pieces." Rodrig sees everything organic in the world as having a PCB counterpart. His latest piece, Attempt At Transferring Data Into The Organic World V.9, was inspired by the organic DNA of an egg vs manmade data. "The challenge was how to get PCBs into the egg, it took me seven tries to get it right. I thought I would have gone through two dozen at least..."

The latest home accessories reflect the low-tech design trend, incorporating recycled oddments and visible workings:

Eric Turp's axe and woodblock chair and RCA student Christian Graddon's Experiment 2 (below)

More circuit boards sculpted into useful objects like desk organisers and lamps:

Kitchen equipment as DIY utility items:

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