interzum is a unique platform for exciting new ideas and innovations and this year one of these innovations was upcycling. Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the transforming of by-products, waste materials, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

In May 2017 the leading international fair for the furniture and interior construction industries’ turned its attention to nature. From biomaterials and green innovations to upcycling, future home lifestyles were the talking point at this year’s show, with the other major theme being interzum’s importance for design, interior decor and architecture.

“Upcycling” refers to a kind of recycling where selected products are reused and, in the ideal scenario, new, high-quality materials for completely new products are produced. From paper and clothing to fabrics, almost anything that would otherwise end up in the rubbish can be reused with the right creative mindset. Upcycling isn’t just fun; it helps to protect our environment. Resources circulate, and less waste is produced. What’s more, we get a “new” product at a lower cost or no cost at all – a win-win situation. The special Circular Thinking event area at interzum presented ideas, products and manufacturers, and provided an overview of sustainable upcycling. It’s also where visitors found chairs made from biomaterials and seats made from plant or vegetable waste. It may sound a little strange at first, but the idea is actually as simple as it is ingenious. After all, the raw materials are freely available in plentiful quantities and can be sustainably reused. The oil barrel furniture started off as a weird idea for a retail shop in Hamburg and is now distributed throughout Europe.

Natural materials and conscious use of resources will have an immense influence on how we live in the future, probably more so than ever before. The global population is constantly growing, and supplies of resources are dwindling. Visitors to interzum who stopped at the special Circular Thinking event area will have found some inspiration. One organisation that has done just that is the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). Taking its inspiration from nature, the Workshop of Dreams shows just what can happen when American hardwoods are used creatively. The sustainability and innovation was rewarded and The Green Product Award was presented in 14 categories at the fair. True to its motto, “How will we live tomorrow?” it recognises exceptionally innovative and green products.