Shabby chic: Turn yesterday's junk into trendy décor

  • Humaira Ansari, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Mar 20, 2015 22:51 IST

Turn yesterday's junk into trendy décor and accessories with a little upcycling, an improved version of recycling that lets you create new from old with minimal fuss.

A typewriter from the 1920s, bearing the erstwhile New York-based Underwood Typewriter Company label, time-travelled to a Delhi junkyard in 2015, and caught product designer Abhisek Basak's eye.

Intrigued, he took it home. Over the next 15 days, Basak, founder of Absynthe Designs, added bits from old ACs, refrigerators and vintage watches, along with a fresh coat of paint, to create a unique table lamp, with slots for stationery and charging docks for smart devices.

The typewriterfs original form was absolutely unchanged. And that, say experts, is the difference between recycling and upcycling.

“Recycling involves spending energy to transform a material, throughprocesses such as melting, colouring and moulding,” says 29-year-old architect Prakriti Shukla, who exhibited upcycled furniture at the recently concluded Dharavi Biennale. “In essence, recycling is down-cycling, whereas upcycling involves upgrading something while retaining its true form.”

Eco-consciousness, a desire to experiment and a yearning for ‘different looking’ home décor products and wearable accessories is making upcycled products new cool or ‘shabby chic’.

“I think non-traditional expressions of creativity are now being appreciated much more than before,” says Anjali Malhotra, founder of 18-monthold indie design label 10 am. Fans include Ian Loyola, 31, an IT security professional based in Goregaon who has bought a Lord of the Rings-styled stencil, a wall clock, and a Batman keychain — all made from old, discarded vinyl records — from the year-old city label The Upcycle Project.

“As a music fan, I love how they have turned vinyl records into so many different products. They have made e-waste super cool,” says Loyola.

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