In the world of luxury interior design, there’s a new lexicon for recycled materials that goes beyond “cheap”, “raw”, or “rustic”.
Instead, items such as broken seashells, tobacco leaves, and even peacock feathers are treated and transformed into intricate inlaid surfaces for bespoke furniture.
“It provides a beautiful finish and is a material you can’t really make sense of, until someone explains that you’re looking at recycled eggshells or even fish bones,” says Douglas Moon, design director at Wilson Associates.
According to Moon, who has had a decade of experience in designing luxury homes, the interest in the use of natural materials is buoyed organically by trends in sustainability. But, when it comes to high-end properties, upcycled materials are not regarded as a “cheaper option”.
On the contrary, they can be as costly as such covetable materials as Italian marble. A company that Moon works with, Nature Squared, for example, transforms raw natural materials into high quality surfaces.
Here, craftsmen would sort out fragments of Jade Abalone seashells and manually lay the fragments into a cast mirror frame. It is a labour-intensive process that doesn’t lend itself to mass production.
Beyond the unique aesthetics afforded by the reconstitution of natural materials, homeowners value the provenance of these one-of-a-kind creations. “The process and stories behind the object is something our clients remember and enjoy telling their guests about,” says the 35-year-old architect.