Have you ever wondered what happens to all the shelves, wires, cords, windows and other building elements that are left behind when a business vacates a building? Recycling and upcycling used construction materials is one way to keep lots of waste out of the landfill, but most of the time these items are simply stored until someone comes along to incorporate them into another structure. Jewelry is probably the last thing you think about when surveying a building that is ready to be demolished or remodeled, but that is exactly what Portland-based designers Meg Drinkwater and Erin Gardner envisioned. As soon as they graduated from the University of Oregon in 2007, Drinkwater and Gardner established an art studio in Old Town Portland so they could explore their conceptual approach to jewelry design. Through The Opulent Project, the designers hope to create a dialogue between what people consider to be “precious” and “non-precious,” and alter mainstream preconceptions regarding value in material culture, all while reducing waste and creating a beautifully upcycled product. Reducing and recycling construction and demolition materials not only conserves landfill space, but also reduces the environmental impact of producing new materials. It also creates jobs and can reduce overall building project expenses through avoided purchase/disposal costs. By creating jewelry out of construction and demolition materials, efforts like The Opulent Project help to create an incentive for careful deconstruction of buildings so that the valuable elements can be resold. This practice also helps to create awareness about C&D waste amongst the fashionista population — individuals who might not otherwise be thinking about excessive pollution and dwindling landfill space. Stay up to date with The Opulent Project’s newest items on Facebook.
Constructing Wearable Art from Industrial Waste
Two Portland-based designers repurpose everyday throwaway items into funky jewelry and accessories.