Decoding Design

Designer's industrial robot makes furniture from recycled refrigerators

Posting in Design

Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij makes stunning, customized furniture from a reprogrammed industrial robot, using bits of recycled refrigerators.

Dutch artist Dirk Vander Kooij is known for his robots-- that is his repurposed (hacked) industrial robot that has been wired to produce furniture out of bits of melted down recycled pieces of refrigerator.

The furniture made its debut last year the the Graduation Show of the Design Academy Eindhoven when a robot spewed out a chair. This robot was capable of producing around 4,000 chairs annually, each one customizable and functional.

Now, the machine not only comes in the original chair or the new mini chair and dining room table, but also rocking chairs, tables and children's furniture. The pieces come in a variety of colors.

Vander Kooij began his career studying wood at the Wood and Furniture College, but moved on to synthetic materials when he got to Eindhoven. He began by making what he called the Elephant Skin Stool of recycled material, named for the way the material cools after being baked in an oven.

Vander Kooij describes the graduation project:

"My graduation project was inspired by a shape that was made using an old 3D printer. This principle is 30 years old, but the older machines were not very accurate. By carefully examining that process, one could identify how the shape was being formed: a very thin thread was meticulously moved to and fro, building up the shape very efficiently and without waste. The idea occurred instantly: "I'm going to build a machine specialized in making furniture". Thick threads of plastic that create a honest ornament by clearly showing how the chair is fabricated... Endless."

Watch the video of the process below, plus additional photos of the furniture:

[Co.Design]
Images:Dirk Vander Kooij

Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure