Candle Wax Tables and Mattress Foam Chairs: Tour One of the Best Waste-Material Reclamations We’ve Seen

Carsten in der Elst‘s recent graduate project, Heavy Duty, is every design student ever’s wet dream — traveling around to different regional factories, asking them to identify their primary waste materials, then collaborating with them to use their existing production processes to turn those byproducts into something new. Unlike every other design student ever, though, in der Elst’s results actually transcend his original thesis, amounting to a vast collection of objects that, if a gallery like Kreo or Friedman Benda released them from a mid-career designer, we wouldn’t bat an eyelash.

Leftover mattress foam, layered and spray painted, became sculptural lounge chairs with appealingly off-kilter color schemes; offcuts from the production of sandstone pavers, shot through with oxide layers and marine fossils, became a series of sophisticated lamps and tables with amazing geological gradients. There are also tables made from 600-pound metal chunks punched out of discs used in engine and turbine manufacturing, and — possibly our favorite — a suite of lamps and stools in muted colors that have been sculpted from a candle factory’s otherwise unusable paraffin and beeswax.

On his website, In der Elst, who’s based in Cologne, has published exhaustive documentation on the collections that make up Heavy Duty, including long descriptions of the researching, planning, and making of each one — plus tons of process images taken in each factory. For design nerds, it’s actually pretty fascinating to read. You can head over there to see the full thesis, or browse our personal highlights below.
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