The term upcycling is relatively new, coined in 1994 by Reiner Pilz, he stated "what we need is upcycling where old products are given more value not less." Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. Upcycling is the opposite of downcycling, which is the other face of the recycling process.
We upcycle a number of items destined for disposal to create many of our exclusive and limited edition products, from carbon fibre to a retired Vickers tank, discarded wood and even a 747-400, with more to come including more retired military (Hawker Hunter) and commercial aircraft (Airbus), a broken bar stool from the Bull Inn in Fairford , UK (courtesy of a catastrophic failure over Christmas 2018) and even turbo-fan blades, a London taxi and more. “…success is only limited by our imagination” - Aesop
The process of up-cycling differs greatly from product to product – let’s first talk wood. Before we can even consider the potential to up-cycle we need to test - cut, lathe, sand and lacquer then check aesthetics. We have sourced drift wood which was then kiln dried and made to cufflinks for a bespoke client. So whether you want silver birch sterling silver cufflinks, beech or even drift wood we have the ability to literally turn (on the lathe) this waste into curated sterling silver cufflinks.
Upcycling aircraft components are much more complicated. As most parts are composites or glued/welded or bonded together we first need to deconstruct the product which can be a painstaking process ensuring we preserve the aesthetics. In the past we found micro-honeycomb forms when dismantling the 747 aircraft skin which needed to be removed to produce a clean aluminium surface for adhering to the silver cufflink body and enabling “747-400” to be engraved on the front. As a side note about 80% of an aircraft by weight is recycled according to popular research but I have been “on-site” and much of the toxic stuff is still destined for landfill – seats and some contaminated materials. Definitely more we could do there – watch this space.
The tank proved even more challenging as the component needed to be heat treated to enable us to re-form it. This all costs time and effort, engineering know how, some chemistry and a lot of patience. The final product – The Drigh, named in commemoration of RAF Drigh Road in modern day Karachi, is testament to our resolve to upcycle even the most challenging of materials.
Up-cycling a product takes time and resolve. In a world where everything is factory produced – your smart phone, sunglasses, even your pen – creating a product, increasing its intrinsic value and changing its use is both a mastery of physics and chemistry and a particular design art.
So, why do it? Why go to all the lengths, extra cost and extra time? Plain and simple, upcycling makes a positive impact on the environment. When you upcycle, you remove items from the global garbage stream. Upcycling instead of recycling is good too; recycling requires energy or water to break down materials. Upcycling only requires your own creativity and elbow grease.
We like the challenge, like the outcome and also have a sustainable policy at ONE BOND STREET, we adhere to it and strive to go beyond our own intentions. Our silver is sourced from the London Metal Exchange (and subsequently assayed by the London Assay Office and certified with a hallmark), our packaging is biodegradable and we do adhere to the highest employment standards. So when it comes to the cufflinks or bangles, we increasingly seek to identify products with the potential to be converted into our jewellery.
So, if you are looking for something a little bit different, a gift with meaning and history, then ONE BOND STREET could help. We have a range of upcycled products from 747-400 sterling silver cufflinks to carbon fibre bangles that say that little bit more about you and your own values in the world of consumption and easy disposal. You can Live Fast, Dress Well and not negatively impact the planet.