Upcycled Tech


Written by Betty Wood
Photos and illustrations by Various
14 Sunday 14th August 2011

In the days before the laptop computer, the Apple IIc Plus and even the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, there was the typewriter. The only writing device to have the double function of producing quick and effective literature whilst simultaneously irritating everyone around you with the incessant clack-clacking of the keys. With this modified typewriter, you can recreate the nostalgia of this obsolete medium on your computer with the USB Typewriter. A fully functioning standard keyboard (with an additional toggle key for non-standard keys) it not only looks beautiful, this modified typewriter also works with the iPad, Mac and all PCs.

We love upcycled jewellery and these cufflinks from the Empty Nest studio and are made from recycled laptop keys. Featuring the 'page up', 'page down', 'ins', 'del', 'home', 'end', 'ctrl' and alt keys, these playful designs make a perfect give for the tech-loving nerd amongst us. And if you're a Mac, then how about American designer Lauren Anabel's Apple branded designs.

Retro consoles might have gone through a resurgence of popularity in recent years, but for those of you who haven't been tempted to rig your old NES console up to your flat screen yet, you might be interested in these cool upcycles. Whether it's changing your NES controller into a USB Drive (see top), or turning your old console games into hard-drive cases, the shells of Nintendo and Sega hardware can be adapted into a variety of object accessories. Etsy seller 8-bit Memory has produced this cool range of vintage Nintendo computer accessories that do just that. Awesome for any gaming nerds out there.

Disposing of old electronic appliances and parts is a hotly debated topic; Western countries often export them to parts of Africa and the developing world where they are then dumped in landfills and buried under other waste. The result is truly toxic – poisonous gases escape into the atmosphere, often in close proximity to local communities that include children and vulnerable people. Designer Benjamin Rollins Cadwell has come up with an ecologically conscious design that re-cycles computer parts to make functional furniture. His binary chair – made from printers, circuit and motherboards RAM and hard drive disks amongst other electrical and plastic components - is part of a series of designs that include a table and dining chairs that draw attention to the issue of tech-waste as a bi-product of modern western living.

If form is more your weapon of choice, how about these upcycled shoes by artist Gabriel Dishaw? His working sculptures pay homage to classic trainer designs by recreating them out of circuit boards, copper, computer RAM and other electrical component. Mimicking the colour, size, shape and even the details of the soles, Dishaw’s attention to detail combines aesthetic weight with environmental awareness.

Finally Chicago based designer Dan Riordan has created these amazing lamps from recycled analogue cameras. This one, made from a Polaroid Land Camera 95A is being sold through his Etsy store CE Cork Lighting Co, although judging by the length of his waiting list for commissions, there are a lot of people who they they're just as cool as we do.

Genius or trash? Let us know your thoughts.

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  • Guest: petitedevotchka
    Sun 21 - Aug - 2011, 12:00
    As cool as that circuit chair looks, I can't imagine it's very comfortable :) I could see that fitting into a public space better than a private. Same with those circuit sneaks. I do envy the ingenuity of it all though ;)