From the moment I set eyes on it on The Block NZ last year, I was in love. Yes, it just knew it had to be mine.
Unfortunately, my living situation at the time (read: living with the in-laws) meant that there was no way I was getting my hands on that dinning room table anytime soon.
I was sure I’d heard it was made out of recycled timber from Christchurch. Resigned to the fact that I could not have it immediately, I decided to torture myself even further by tracking it down and ogling it online.
What I discovered was that there was a whole lot more to love about this table than just it’s good looks.
One beautiful piece at a time:
Rekindle is the social enterprise that is responsible for not only making the dinning table I love, but also other fantastic pieces of furniture, jewellery, art and other useful objects, all out of waste wood.
Their mission is to support communities to fully utilise their waste wood, develop employment opportunities and enable youth to gain real and transferable work skills.
It’s hard not to be inspired by the vision being pushed by founder and occupational therapist Juliet Arnott. Her belief that participation, especially for young people, in a meaningful work role has the potential to transform lives.
What better place to set up their first workshop than in Christchurch, where the team has worked to intercept as much of the reusable timber as they could from earthquake-damaged homes in the area.
The one of a kind pieces are not only beautiful but demonstrate the ongoing value of the materials used, bringing new life and function to what otherwise would have ended up on the scrap heap.
Whole House Reuse: Rethinking what waste is.
In a symbolic act of respect to the thousands of homes demolished in Christchurch and to highlight just how much can be done to recycle the materials for future use, Rekindle, with support from the Sustainable Initiative Fund (SIFT) launched the Whole House Reuse.
The project involves salvaging one whole house that was due for demolition and turning it into an array of purposeful works and items across different creative disciplines such as: art, design, craft and micro-architecture.
19 Admirals Way:
The deconstruction of 19 Admirals Way occurred over seven days in late August and early September 2013. A crew of professional salvagers pulled apart the house by hand, and a team of volunteers worked to load the materials onto trailers and ferry them into storage.
From the salvage, 480 material listings were recorded in a Catalouge of Resources that is now being presented to the creative community of New Zealand within a book: Whole House Reuse – Deconstruction. As we’ll as the materials catalogue, the book tells the story of the project so far with written and photographic documentation on the salvage work.
It’s been a very busy few months for project director Kate McIntyre with the launch of the book and a new website. I asked her a few questions about how the project was coming along and some of the surprises along the way so far:
1. What stage is the project up to now? What is the next step?
We are now in the Design stage of the project – which is when the creative community of Aotearoa/NZ become involved. Following that is the Reuse stage. This is basically when the works that result from the design stage are showcased, and the whole story of the project is outlaid for the public to experience. After this exhibition period, the works that have either found a home through the exhibition process, or were made with a specific community use in mind will be put to use again.
2. What has surprised you most about the project so far?
Two things – the hugely enthusiastic response the project illicits from such a huge range of people. I think this is because of the empowering nature of it – the fact that it is giving people a chance to engage and do something about a problem that they have felt so much frustration about – the senseless waste generated through demolition.
And the other thing – I knew that I didn’t know how much work was involved to fully deconstruct a simple home, but I still felt blown away. Even more than the act of deconstruction, just the transporting of the materials from one place to another could have benefited from a small army. It just goes to show how substantial just one home really is.
4. What is your favourite thing that has been created and sold in the rekindle store?
I really love the chairs. I think specifically for the way they speak directly of the value of the materials through practical function, and how they show that the story of those materials still continues.
If you want to keep up to date with the progress of the Whole House Reuse project, or you would like to get involved in the design stage, visit their new website www.wholehousereuse.co.nz. for all the information. I can’t wait to see what is created.
Seeing as I still don’t have my own dinning room, I haven’t managed to acquire that dinning room table yet! Thankfully there’s plenty of other little treats in the Rekindle store to keep me happy. Let me know what your favourite Rekindle piece is on our facebook page.