Putting the circular economy into action with ‘haute-design’ refurbished upholstered chairs





A ‘live’ installation in Gallery 99 by Ella Doran, Galapagos Designs, The Great Recovery Project (RSA) built from several upholstered chairs that are deconstructed and refurbished in the V&A Design Studio, accompanied by a talk in room SR3 on 17th Sept at 16.00 - 17.45.

This collaborative event puts a spotlight on the challenges and opportunities around closed loop furniture design and manufacture, with the aim to promote the work of The Great Recovery (RSA) toward a circular economy that avoids locking up valuable materials in landfill.

Showcasing a designer’s journey in the deconstruction and refurbishment of a range of unique upholstered chairs, the ‘live’ installation demonstrates how design, material use, value and sustainability are intertwined. Ella Doran designs the chairs, while Galapagos Designs provides the craftsmanship and expertise for their making. The new information about construction and materials gathered in the process will be edited by Galapagos Designs from a maker’s perspective and integrated into The Great Recovery’s phase 2.

Most of the chairs will be deconstructed and rebuilt in the Design Studio at the V&A over the first week of the London Design Festival and will successively be added to the installation in Gallery 99. The Design Studio is open to visitors and immediately adjacent to Gallery 99. In addition, the collaborators will present the project in a panel talk in seminar room SR3 at the V&A on Wednesday, the 17th September.

Coinciding with the London Design Festival, The Great Recovery will launch its new design guide for circular economy that focuses on taking the complex theory of circularity into a practical design methodology and will open a new innovation hub in collaboration with a new maker space in Central London. Both, guide and hub, will make material, networking and prototyping resources available to the wider design and manufacturing community and broaden access to material scientists, policy makers and other relevant industry participants.

Ella Doran & The Great Recovery

Ella Doran first set up shop in East London in the early 1990’s when she spearheaded the application of photography-based images and patterns on functional everyday products. Drawing inspiration from the world around her, at home or abroad, Ella Doran often plays with cultural icons or associations. Her designs are suffused by her passion for colour, texture and the effects of sunlight, and her products are made from high quality materials that age well. As a fellow of the RSA, Ella is committed to support the Great Recovery Project’s promotion of a circular economy that avoids locking up valuable materials in landfill.

The Great Recovery (www.greatrecovery.org.uk) is a project set up by the RSA (The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) in 2012 with support from the Technology Strategy Board. Based on the insight that our linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model of manufacturing is throwing up major economic and environmental challenges, The Great Recovery aims to facilitate a shift toward more circular systems, and considers the design industry as pivotal to this process.

Urban Upholstery (www.urbanupholstery.com) is the London based company of upholsterer Andrea Simonutti and architect/artist Patrizia Sottile. They upcycle existing furniture to create one off pieces and their work is characterized by craftsmanship, creative flair and attention to detail. Exploring the multiple aspects of upholstery materials and techniques, they make use of remnants of fabrics as well as collaborating with London based textile designers to create sculptural and vibrant pieces. Urban Upholstery was established in 2007.

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