Here at Upcycle That we are constantly blown away by the incredible upcycling inspiration and ideas from upcyclers around the world. Australian Kristen Montgomery of Sneaky Boarding Design is one such upcycler. Kristen makes furniture and homeware from reclaimed materials such as pallets, skateboards and reclaimed wood. We’ve asked Kristen some questions about her process and where she gets her upcycling inspiration from. Read on to find out what she shared.
We often say that upcycling isn’t a new idea, but rather an new term. When you look into it you’ll find that many resourceful people around the world have been upcycling for years. This rings true for Kristen, who was inspired to start upcycling after seeing repurposed items on her travels across Europe and Indonesia.
In Europe I saw old door ways that had been made into walls rather than demolished. I saw table lights that had been made from connecting old light fittings and toys together. Containers turned into vibrant restaurants and bars. In Indonesia they use a lot of the old boat timber to make their furniture. There was a café with a small boat cut in half and timber shelving put in, it was being used as a wine rack. Every time I go travelling I come back inspired and with a different outlook. It is truly amazing.
Kristen draws upcycling inspiration from many places. The image above is her Banksy Buffet. It’s made from upcycled pallets and skateboard decks. For this piece Kristen drew inspiration from Danish furniture. She was also looking to do some stenciling and kept coming back to Banksy. Kristen says Banksy is one of the greatest upcyclers as he transforms dirty old street walls into art. We think the sentiment is great and also love the design details on the Banksy Buffet.
Kristen also receives upcycling inspiration from the people around her.
Family and friends are always coming forward with ideas and info about things they have seen… “I saw this big jar on weekend at a garage sale. They were using it as a vase….and I thought you might be able to do something cool with it”. That’s generally how things start and then the idea evolves from there.
Kristen is a serious upcycler. She started building furniture 10 years ago as a joinery apprentice and has a solid understanding of how things go together. We asked Kristen if she could please share her process for upcycling with our community. Here’s what she said:
- Get inspired
- Draw / scribble/ note / doodle
- Find materials that match the image in your mind or let the material that is available dictate the design.
- Work out scale and dimensions (this is the hardest part)
- Talk to other trades if required e.g metal workers
- Create working drawings
- Build build build – when I am making a product with no specific end user I generally let the building process be quite free and make changes based on what I see throughout the process.
Trial and error
Kristen says that good upcycling involves a lot of trial and error. Given that the materials are pre-used it’s difficult to know exactly how things will look once completed. Kristen recommends doing practise runs to see how the materials will work. She also recommends keeping designs simple and allowing the materials to shine as the feature.
Finally Kristen also firmly believes in collaborating with other people. She is not shy to ask an artist to contribute to a piece she is working on. By including other artists she pushes her own boundaries of creativity. We also think this collaboration lends itself to incredibly beautiful and unique upcycled pieces.
See more Sneaky Boarding Design.