Old Treasures

The chair made from rags called to me from across the room. It’s actually a little embarrassing to admit.

The bound layers of old textiles crudely molded into an L-shape was by no means attractive, yet it was a definite statement piece I envision people laughing over during an avant-garde soirée. It brought me back to every hole-in-the-wall vintage clothing store where I’ve painstakingly rummaged through piles of often-strange combinations of materials, shapes and sizes. It gave me a bit of the warm and fuzzies.

Nearby stood a sculpture mashing together shovels with bridge chairs and stools and some type of old sports racket—household knickknacks basically.

These were a few of the strange designs on display at The Hôtel Droog Gallery in Amsterdam on a recent visit capping off my trip to the ISE show. Droog is chiefly a design company distinct for taking old concepts and scenarios of objects and repurposing them into something new. This extends to clothing sold by Droog too—as very well evinced by Pharrell Williams’ line of denim constructed from recycled ocean plastics.

“Less is more, but only if it adds something of meaning, if it makes space for something else,”writes Renny Ramakers, co-founder and creative director at Droog.

Giving old ideas a new life is one translation for me. Sometimes it’s all too easy to get trapped in the same daily, monthly, yearly cycles we build our lives on, but it’s important to break these norms every once in a while, even if it makes us a bit uncomfortable. It’s about looking beyond what’s up front. Sure the rag chair was a bit on the tacky side, but it made me think about materials and their purposes in a different way. There were deeper layers to the object—literally and figuratively—which rings true in life. Just because something feels stale or might not be working anymore, it’s important to look for another angle or some combination of ideas and tools that can serve a new purpose.

Take a minute to see your world through a different lens. What can you learn from thinking outside of your box and bringing what’s old and familiar to a new function? What are the challenges you face with your business that a fresh level of thinking could inject new life into?