Being environmentally friendly is something we all know we are suppose to do, and most of us admit to recycling, using Energy Star appliances and shutting the water off while brushing our teeth. But Toronto’s newest design studio and store, Hart & Hive, has taken it upon themselves to operate at negative waste. Yes, their net waste is less than zero and it’s actually apart of their business model.
Beyond recycling everything they can and using LED light bulbs, designer Thomas Hart, actively sources discarded objects. Hart goes on to say “designers always use constraints to bring out creativity that wouldn’t otherwise exist, I like to find what other people think is trash, re-contextualize it and something people want again emerges at the end”. Furniture is one of Hart & Hive’s favourite mediums to work with, people are constantly putting old furniture to the curb because it’s outdated, broken or missing pieces that effect it’s functionality. “I found a pair of mid-century modern chairs with a 1980’s polyester upholstery, after refinishing the mahogany legs, replacing the fabric with a fine Japanese leather and adding layers of fringe to the seatbacks to look like a flapper dress, they didn’t last long on the sales floor”, said Hart.
Thomas will go out on garbage day and pull antique hinges, castors and drawer pulls off furniture that is beyond repair to make even his newly constructed pieces one-of-a-kind. Sometimes construction sites leave behind pieces of quality wood that gets milled down and turned into smaller items.
Every little bit of leather is used, not matter how small, which is how one of their best selling items, leather tassels you can clip onto a purse, came to be. Even the tiniest clippings too small to sew into anything are saved and made into unique earrings.
Similarly, small scraps of wood left over from bigger projects are glued together and made into pieces like his Mosaic cutlery set5. Even the water collected from the dehumidifying system is what feeds the living wall they have in store.
“The amount of waste we are bringing in and turning back into something functional and beautiful, outnumbers the little bit of a waste we do throw away each week” says designer and owner Thomas Hart. He has made at least a dozen light fixtures that utilize vintage glass shade6, saved from demolition sights or other fixtures that no longer work. “When I have this beautiful piece of glass, I can design a light fixture around it that I would never have otherwise thought to create”.
Hart & Hive hopes to encourage other people to think about what they consider waste, our landfills are overflowing and we can’t sustain a disposable culture much longer. Simple initiatives like shipping products out to customers in the same cardboard boxes you receive supplies in means not only is there is no cardboard waste, energy isn’t used transporting and recycling the material either. It’s always been said that design can change the world, and as creative thinkers, we as designers owe it to the world to come up with ideas to minimize waste because something incredibly beautiful can be born from that kind of environmentally friendly thought process.