Saved by Droog!

Amsterdam-based conceptual design company Droog launched a project focused on recycling and redesigning over 5,000 objects during Milan’s Fuorisalone

All photos by Stefanie Grätz, courtesy of Droog De
All photos by Stefanie Grätz, courtesy of Droog Design
In the last few months Dutch design company Droog came up with a rather eccentric shopping list. If featured indeed over 5,000 items bought at liquidation auctions, including mirrors, dog baskets, wooden spoons, cola glasses and piles of handkerchiefs. Yet the company wasn’t just on a bizarre shopping spree, but had an intriguing project in mind. All the items acquired were given to 14 different designers who revamped them in style. The designers, which inclided Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen, Atelier Ted Noten, Ed Annink, Eric Klarenbeek, Erna Einarsdóttir, Luc d’Hanis & Sofie Lachaert and Maison Martin Margiela, came up with the most extravagant, cute or fun ideas, from bomb-shaped candles to handkerchiefs embroidered with newspaper articles, spoons with fake yet irresistible pink coating, folding chairs manicured by nail artists and silver moustaches inspired by Harvey Adam’s 19th century 'moustache cup'.
 
The final results, showcased during Milan’s Fuorisalone, became part of the limited 'Saved by Droog' collection including 19 products that will soon be available to buy also on line. The event, art critic and Droog Director Renny Ramakers anticipates, will be taken to different countries and will also be turned into an ambitious project that will link up the new owners of the different objects across the world. So what will you have, the drinking glasses with real piercings, the ceramic, metal or wood containers in a soft electric blue flock coating or the safety vests that warn the wearers about the dangers of a media-centric environment?

Dazed Digital: Did you enjoy Milan and did the objects find new owners?
Renny Ramakers: Yes, we did very much and we got some very positive reactions from the visitors. We sold a good number of objects and their new owners all looked very happy!

DD: When did you start developing the concept behind the 'Saved by Droog' project?
Renny Ramakers: A year ago I started thinking about how long it takes to design a product, develop and produce it and how much energy goes into the entire process. I thought it would have been interesting to step into the production process and wondered how we could get the products to work on. Then we thought about buying them from liquidation auctions. There are 500 companies that each month go bankrupt and all their products are offered on auction on the Internet. So we bought a lot of items, from folding chairs to handkerchiefs and offered them to designers, asking them to make their choice and use the product as a source of inspiration, as if they were their own materials.

DD: What fascinated you about the final results and which was the most unexpected product in your opinion?
Renny Ramakers: I was genuinely amazed by the results because some of the items were completely unexpected like the product inspired by the matchboxes. We gave matchboxes to jewellery design team Atelier Ted Noten and we thought they would have used the boxes for their jewels. Instead they didn’t even touch the box but designed a bomb-shaped candle to accompany it and put three bronze stars - which could be considered as the identity of the matchbox - inside the candle. That was a really big surprise for all of us and it was a very innovative and creative approach to the original product we gave them.   

DD: At the end of the project did you feel you had learnt more from the designers involved or from the new owners of the objects?
Renny Ramakers: We learnt something interesting from both: the designers surprised us for the way they treated the materials, but also amazed us for their level of engagement in the project. We interviewed some of them on our blog and they told us they enjoyed being involved in this event, but they also stated they found new inspiration for their work while focusing on this project. If we had given the designers a brief asking them to design a piece of cutlery for us, then they would have had to design the piece from scratch. This project allowed them instead to skip this step and start working on recovering an object, draw some new conclusions and come up with new proposals. The reaction of the visitors and buyers was also very interesting since it helped us understanding the importance of the price-quality equation. People’s demand had an impact on prices, allowing us to understand that some products such as the mirror tables were very cheap or that others like the handkerchiefs or the folding chairs were too expensive, and that sparked up new issues about the production costs and the final product. 

DD: Where can we buy the objects now and will this project continue in future?
Renny Ramakers: They will soon be available from our webshop. We will definitely continue this project both on the Internet and in several different places in the world. The next show will probably be in New York and we will add new items as well. When an item sells out, we will acquire more things and ask other designers to reinvent these pieces and, if an object is really desirable, we will redesign it again. If it doesn’t sell, we will reconsider the reasons why that happened and think about how we can do things in a better way.

DD: Recycling items plays an important part also on a social level, what could be the “social added value” of this project?
Renny Ramakers: The next step of this event is actually giving the project a sort of interactive edge. We have uploaded on our site photographs of the people who bought the objects and we will create a system on our website in which all the owners will be able to meet. Our aim is indeed to create a community of owners. In this way they will be able to communicate with each other no matter where they are based and if someone has a handkerchief and wants another one, they may want to speak to an owner who may not need that anymore. We wanted to introduce this community idea in Milan, but there was no time, so we’re working on developing it for the next event.





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