Finding new ways to reuse old things is rewarding – and might just save the planet. This selection of thoughtful books shows you how
Words Catherine Coyle
Re-issue, re-imagine, re-make by Elisabeth Darby
Is anything ever truly a ‘new’ idea? What’s considered a ‘design classic’ – and where is the line drawn between indulging in an innocent ‘hack’ and straight-up design appropriation? Elisabeth Darby’s latest book attempts to assess the impact that re-interpreting or re-imagining an iconic design – such as the Thonet number 14 chair – has on contemporary design practice. Looking internationally to investigate how designers and artists are bringing new life to existing pieces through form and material, it places their work within a historial and cultural context. It’s a tricky balance; authenticity, authorship, ethics and legalities are all at play in
this intriguing new title.
£39.95, Lund Humphries
Home for the Soul by Sara Bird and Dan Duchars
Sara Bird and Dan Duchars have put together a thoughtful guide to making an interior that has minimal impact on the environment. Eco-friendly paints, organic fabrics and handmade homewares all feature; the first section of the book
gives examples of ‘how to’, which is followed up with visits to inspiring homes where the owners have created their looks through characterful yet responsible means. Think reclaimed furniture, recycled linens and repurposed accessories that create mood without damaging the planet. In a world where resources are precious and sustainability is more than just a buzzword, Home for the Soul is a helpful reference tool for the eco-conscious decorator.
£19.99, Ryland Peters & Small
Upcycling Books by Julia Rubio
If, like me, you find it hard to part with a single book and your overflowing shelves are starting to take over your home, this new publication might give you some ideas about how to deal with a bad case of bibliomania. At the very least it will get the crafter in you working overtime. In Upcycling Books Julia Rubio guides readers step by step through DIY projects that turn pages – and old covers, too – into something new and beautiful. There are 20 tasks, ranging from simpler activities such as creating party decorations, through to more elaborate reinventions like origami lampshades and even a smartphone charger. And there are handy links to video tutorials, if you’d prefer a demonstration. A new way to revisit the classics.
Wasted by Katie Treggiden
Spread across the opening two pages of Katie Treggiden’s latest book, Wasted, is the kind of photo-journalism that wins awards. It stays with you. An overwhelming volume of plastic and damaging detritus is captured beautifully, desperately, in this image, encapsulating how the planet is crying out for its inhabitants to treat it with respect before it’s too late. It compels you to read on, where, broken down into five distinct sections (domestic, industrial, fashion, food and plastic waste), the author shows us practical, do-able ways that we all can reduce the impact of our consumerism on our vulnerable home. Viewing it not as waste, but as ‘treasure’ – an alternative, useful material – could dramatically change the way we live.
Kabinett & Kammer by Sean Scherer
Sean Scherer’s book pays homage to the past, celebrating the beauty in antiques and artful curios at Kabinett & Kammer, his store in the Catskills of New York State. The shop is a cornucopia of finds curated so thoughtfully that it’s easy to see why it has been photographed (by the great William Abranowicz) and presented as a covetable coffee table book. Scherer is an artist, teacher and collector with a magpie eye who has poured his love for vintage pieces and interior design into his boutique and into this book. His mission is to show how authentic interiors can be created; lived-in spaces that bubble with personality, without compromising on style. Part guide, part photo-story, it’s an altogether inspiring read.
How to Make and Use Compost by Nicky Scott
If you’re going to commit to making some real eco-friendly changes to your everyday routine, composting is a relatively easy (and fun) place to start. This book, How to Make and Use Compost, is a practical guide for novices, put together by environmental activist Nicky Scott, whose previous publications include Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It gives readers information about composting’s benefits to your garden and the environment, as well as outlining how different systems work, including cold composting, wormeries, bokashi and hot boxes. It’s something that you can do on a big or small scale and it’s easy to get the kids involved, too, nurturing planet-conscious decision-making in the next generation.
£13.99, Green Books