Decorating with upcycled and refurbished objects, once considered trendy, is now a design style. One which I happily embrace. In my home, Victorian-era pine floor boards, saved from a long-gone St. Louis hospital, form a pedestal and discarded steam gauges are now an art installation. Sometimes a few coats of lacquer turn “old” into “new.” At other times it’s a new use. What should we call this style? It’s neither Shabby Chic nor Industrial. Perhaps Redux? At Studio Rolf.fr, the approach to upcycling and refurbishing is a bit more radical.
Rolf works with objects that have sentimental value, but no longer fit with today’s design aesthetic. He slices, encases and reshapes them into contemporary pieces, while honouring the memories of the past. The Studio Rolf.fr design style could be called Transformed Traditional.
Rolf began transforming things as an architect. He studied architecture and urban planning at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. In 2003, along with architect Marnix van der Meer, he founded Zecc Architecten. Among the firm’s projects are the Water Tower of Living and Church of Living. As the names imply, these living spaces were once a water tower and a church.
His own home is the award wining The Black Pearl. Located in a revitalized neighbourhood of Rotterdam, the house, once a crumbling relic, is an outstanding transformation. From the link, you can also watch a short video (Rolf speaks Dutch in the video, even if you don’t understand Dutch, it’s interesting to watch) and take a 360 tour.
In 2009, Rolf formed Studio Rolf.fr and now dedicates his time to designing and creating furniture and products. The photos below are of his Cutting Porcelain series. By covering the exterior and slicing the tea pot and vase apart, he reveals the simple, elegant lines of the hidden inner structures.
When I first saw Studio Rolf.fr’s Concrete Cabinet (top photo) in Amsterdam at Woonbeurs 2013, it seemed familiar (minus the concrete). It reminded me of my maternal grandmother’s sewing cabinet. As a child, I adored rummaging through it. The drawers yielded bits of lace and spare buttons that I crafted into bracelets and hairbands. I asked to have the cabinet after my grandparents died. It became my daughter’s bedside table. She still has it in her home today. Although she likes it just as it is, perhaps a concrete remake is now under consideration. (Update: I’ve been assured the treasured cabinet will remain as is).
In the photo, my grandmother is wearing a silk dress created by my mom. I love seeing how my family dressed for casual strolls in the park. Perhaps not practical, but definitely chic.
Photo credits: 2, 3, 4 & 5 Studio Rolf.fr.