Concepts of Re-using Things

27 Mar – 19 May 2014

Recycling, re-use, longer use, material recovery, conversion to new purposes: the use of household and industrial waste in product design often creates not only new resources in the economic sense, but also new values in the ideal and personal sphere.

The reasons for re-use include situations of scarcity and need, but also waste reduction and resource conservation in affluent societies. Consumers’ motivations for re-use and recycling include personal positions, the desire for sustainable lifestyles, a preference for unique hand-crafted items over standardized mass-produced merchandise, and identification with home-made things as opposed to anonymous industrial products.

The objects exhibited in ‘Transformations’ are drawn from the Museum’s various collections, including the sections on ‘Products of Necessity’ and ‘Do-It-Yourself Things’, and from submissions for the Recycling Design Award.

What the exhibits have in common, in addition to the fact that they incorporate used materials, is that a revaluation or a recoding of their meaning has taken place. That is, the reshaping involves not only the material resources, but also the cultural, social and personal meanings inscribed in the things.

Objects are ‘civilianized’ by converting them away from a military purpose; others are made more valuable by exposing traces of their previous use or refining them with a historical patina; others become ironic commentaries on the sustainability fad or anti-consumerism manifestos.

The exhibition is aimed at presenting different concepts of re-use and recycling as material for discussion.