I really like the work of Dutch designer Dirk van der Kooij. His furniture made out of used plastic is in my opinion a good example of how to recycle materials without downcycling them.
Kooij’s Endless Chairs are made of reused plastic that is collected from old refrigerators. The chairs are build by a giant industrial robot that Kooij reprogrammed to 3D print his designs.
After each finished chair Kooij re-evaluates the result and if necessary, adjusts the design somewhat. This has resulted in chairs that are not only very nice looking, but are also very comfortable to sit in.
Too often, products made from recycled materials lack a feel of necessity. It is as if designers really want to recycle materials and are less concerned with designing things that are useful and durable. But really, do we need more iPhone cases made out of recycled wood or coat racks made from old umbrella hooks? I think not. We can use more products that don’t need the green tag in order for us to appreciate them. Products that are beautiful and useful in itself. Like the Endless Chair.
The video below gives a better look at the technique developed by Kooij to make his chairs.