Reused and Recycled Materials in 10 Interior Design Projects

Recycling and reusing in civil engineering is extremely important, especially when considering the amounts of waste production and energy consumption involved in the processes related to the construction site. Creating construction elements by re-designing the role of old objects or materials represents an objective approach to upcycling, as a path towards a more sustainable and responsible future.

Within the field of architecture and engineering, it is most likely that such materials, when recovered or recycled from demolitions, for example, will eventually end up being used in the structure or facades of new buildings. Their use in indoor environments is not so typical, as these tend to be either very unappealing or excessively covered with finishes that hide the buildings’ components.

Nevertheless, the presence of these materials inside houses, apartments, hotels, or any type of architectural program, may take on a new significance by indicating the urgency to expand and spread awareness concerning sustainable daily practices dedicated to reducing the environmental impact caused by capitalism’s forms of organization and production. Examples of alternative groups and people committed to a harmonious and balanced relationship with the cycles of nature have existed worldwide for a long time, and their legacy can be translated into contemporary architectural mass production in many different ways.

Below are some examples of projects that use recycled or reused elements to improve the quality of their interiors in various ways, ranging from improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings to sensitive details that define the environments’ atmosphere.

Weekend Shelter / Agora Arquitectura

“The project aimed to review a common practice associated with self-construction, which is not very sensitive to the environment. Most of the time, the technique uses elements related to temporary occupations in more permanent constructions, such as campsites designed for weekend relaxation. [. . .] Combining the cork on the façade with the particle board in the interior, a thick thermal and acoustic protection is achieved. The material does not require maintenance and comes from sustainable forests, being completely recyclable, and avoiding any thermal bridge.”

Même – Experimental House / Kengo Kuma & Associates

“The house was inspired by ‘Chise,’ the traditional housing style of the Ainu. It’s a wooden frame made of Japanese larch wrapped with a polyester fluoride coated membrane material. The inner part is covered with a removable fiberglass cloth membrane. Between the two membranes, a polyester insulator made from recycled PET bottles is inserted, allowing the light to penetrate.”

Cheops Observatory Residence / Studio Malka Architecture

“According to centuries-old oral traditions, the residence was built orally, without any plan, just a few sketches drawn on the desert sand. Local construction techniques and ancestral savoir-faire and crafts of the villagers are an essential part of the project, with a social and environmental commitment. Materials are upcycled, diverted, and reused in a short circuit.”

Hotel Tepoztlán / Taller Carlos Marín + Pasquinel Studio

“The fusion between architecture and nature was a key design concept from an early stage. Thus, the architects chose to use the stone found on-site to build the walls and pave the pathways. The overall structure of the hotel was made of exposed concrete with natural pigmentation in shades of red, selected to match the colors of the landscape and the reddish tone of the hills that surround the Tepozteco valley. All timber formwork used in the construction was properly recycled and transformed into furniture or flooring.”

Ready-made Apartment / azab

“The main goal was to achieve a generous and continuous space, without hierarchy or distribution, combined with out-of-context techniques and objects, in which humor is the leitmotif, always open to unpredictable appropriations of the space, capable of satisfying the residents’ sense of domestic life. [. . .] Thus, understanding that the essence of the proposal lies in this objective appropriation, and aiming to break away from functionalist determinants towards a generous and unspecified space, we propose the following: Recycling and DIY as construction techniques.”

Fuelle Roga House / OMCM arquitectos

“Reduce, reuse, recycle. The three R’s that have been incorporated into the contemporary world repertoire inspired the architects to use techniques that their professors have been using in paradigmatic works of Paraguayan architecture.”

Zero Waste Bistro Restaurant / Linda Bergroth

The space designed by Linda Bergroth was crafted entirely of recycled and recyclable materials, using sustainable design pieces. [. . .] Each partner and collaborator was invited through a curating process and selected based on their stake in sustainability.

Upcycle House / Lendager Arkitekter

“When building houses, it is environmentally beneficial to think in terms of material recycling, since the materials have already emitted CO2. It is even better to develop processes where garbage or useless materials can be upcycled and reused for new building materials of higher utility value than they had originally.”

House of the Flying Beds / AL BORDE

“This house, built in the late eighteenth century, gave the impression of not being useful at all. It had only one floor, the brick flooring was broken, the eighty square meters were dark and cold, and the wood roof structure was rotten. Only the earth walls seemed able to be refurbished, all of which did not look so bad at first glance. [. . .] It was impossible to reuse the roof tiles; their poor condition turned them into patio backfill material. The roof is solved with shingles of old tires and a ridge of recycled glass that swallows light, heats, and illuminates the interior.”

Angatuba House / messina | rivas

“Such crossovers required the demolition of clay brick walls. Due to the proximity to the construction site, the possibility of discarding this material encouraged us to wonder, together with engineers and bricklayers, how we could reuse the demolition bricks through constructive experimentation.”


The seven crucial elements of interior design

Jon Ingleton asks experts to share their insights into the building blocks of design

Appreciation for the quality of an interior design is considerably enhanced by considering how each of the seven elements has been used

Shape, light, colour, line, texture, space and pattern – the seven elements of great design work in harmony to create aesthetically successful interiors that function effectively and engender the appropriate mood among the people who inhabit a room. Although there is some conflict within traditional wisdom about whether form warrants inclusion as an eighth element, CFI takes the view that a three-dimensional shape is, fundamentally, still a shape.

Forming an opinion about the quality of the interior design of any space becomes significantly more rewarding if you are able to consider how each element has been used – both in isolation and in terms of its interplay with the other elements in the room. This report explores the core components and acknowledges the role that each individual element plays in the overall interior.

Shape – Derek Barkas, owner of Barkas Design

Design is a three-dimensional discipline, so it will always be impacted by shape because it adds meaning and creates interest. Shape has an almost imperceptible influence in our lives and yet it is the reason why great design becomes so successful – for example, it’s why a classic car becomes so loved and revered.

Shadow and light are factors as shape influences tactility, visual texture and flow. Feng shui teaches us that shape is as important as any factor in our environment, aiding flow or ‘chi’. Shape must encourage chi and never be impeded. We use these principles often in general arrangement planning, where smooth and circular shapes are encouraged to create a preferable sensory response. A curve can break up a narrow space and bring life to low ceilings, which is always a challenge on ships.

Shapes are tactile and beautiful and they are practical – for example, pantries are usually rectangular because it optimises space for storage. Shape selection can also create impracticalities. A circular bar, for instance, causes challenges for equipment as you try to fit squares into curves.

We spend many hundreds of man hours on shapes to decide room proportions, bow designs, profile designs, window shapes and funnels, with each one playing together to deliver universal harmony.

Light – Francesca Bucci, president of BG Studio International

Daylight triggers our circadian rhythms and greatly contributes to our health and wellness, so it’s a crucial factor in interior design. The Observatory located on the forward part of the top deck on Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Flora, a luxury mega yacht purposely designed to navigate in the Galapagos islands, was designed with full-height windows to provide the most amazing view of the spectacular Galapagos nature. Here, natural light filters in from the windows, reflecting on the light-coloured floor and ceiling, ultimately giving the effect of a much larger space. As the light becomes softer in the evening hours, the wood tones of the library walls acquire the shades of the beautiful sunsets. At this point everything is ready for the guests to lounge by the window wall and enjoy the most spectacular starry sky straddling the southern and the northern hemispheres.

Colour – Iñigo Oliver, commercial manager of Oliver Design

Colour dictates the personality of a design. The personality that we selected for the lounge and bar onboard Naviera Armas’s Volcan del Teide was inspired by nature to represent a feeling of wholesomeness, orderliness and being grounded. It is a simple and strong message supported by a natural colour palette that has very positive associations for brands.

Multiple shades of browns and greens were used in a self-selecting colour scheme made up of different grades of natural wood, a sand-effect carpet mixed with a real sand garden with seashells, bamboo under the stairs, braided resin furniture and a splash of green in the plants. The lighting incorporated sky-blue accents to complete the effect and create a relaxing and natural environment for passengers to enjoy.

Texture – Ann Bada-Crema, executive creative director and owner of Launch by Design

Texture is an important sensory requirement in interior design – not just for touch but also for the way that sound and light react to different textures. And it’s particularly important in a children’s environment, such as Camp Ocean Sharks Area on Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom.

During this project, the literal form of texture was more challenging to deliver due to the strict antimicrobial standards in the marine sector. Recognising that texture is an important sensory element when designing youth spaces, we rose to the challenge by delivering texture through the use of custom graphics on the walls, which were supported by a visually textured flooring finish to create an underwater theme. In short, we produced custom-designed water graphics to create the illusion of texture throughout the space. Texture is either tactile or visual or both. It can be smooth or rough, hot or cold – texture can be real or perceived.

Line –Matt Fyvie, design associate at SMC Design

Line is a fundamental part of a design and is the start of a creative process which forms a blueprint of an idea. Lines can be interpreted in many forms and, whether they are broken, continuous, thick or thin, they can take your mind on a vivid journey of form and structure. Sweeping lines can emphasise movement and organic forms, while longer, straighter lines can mean a more ordered and simpler approach.

Lines can be seen in everyday life subconsciously and unexpectedly and can lead one’s eye to a particular area. A line can be a powerful tool and can be used to transform and scale many things, such as mapping our cities or the smallest iteration of a product.

In the atrium onboard Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery, vertical lines accentuate the height of the space while lines of different weight in the artwork tell a more intricate detailed story of the design. Sweeping architectural lines of the staircase create a sense of movement and free-flowing forms provide an eye-catching connection between decks.

Space –Tomas Tillberg, managing partner of Tomas Tillberg Design

When planning of the interiors for a passenger vessel, space is a concept with countless faces. The many aspects that play a role in decisions about space allocation must harmonise not only with the conceptual characteristics of the product, but also with the operational and technical demands.

Guests and crew will always desire a larger and more comfortable space to stay and work in, so there is a delicate balance in determining the optimum spaces for each throughout a ship. More space means more size and weight that needs to be carried for the life of the vessel. This will impact many things on a variety of levels, such as fuel consumption and maintenance. Therefore, the space plan is managed from the very beginning at the general arrangement level. The designs and specifics of each space and the experience that is desired for the guest follows with each having their own unique set of space requirements.

Pattern – Alan McVitty, founder of M Studio

Our brief for the new Britannia Club restaurant on Cunard’s Queen Victoria was to create a contemporary interior that would also reflect positively on the cruise line’s rich heritage. We took inspiration from patterns and motifs from the Cunard archives. These designs were interpreted into glass and textiles which anchor Britannia’s evocative, glamorous modern design for intimate dining.

Deep blue hues in the design mirror the sea views throughout providing a consistent understated and sophisticated flow of colour. Bespoke mahogany dividers with decorative inlaid glass and brass establish the interior architecture, while antique mirrors with backlit panels and Bohemian glass chandeliers help distribute the light and hues of the sea throughout. Custom fabrics and carpets complement one another. Outside backs of the dining chairs have been upholstered in embossed leather and contrasting fabrics to enhance the scheme. All of the architectural and soft furnishing elements come together to create a contemporary room inspired by historical patterns.