Dumpster Divers Decorated This Room With Trash, and the Results Are Stunning

Instead of shopping for furniture, London's Scarcity Project scoured the city and repurposed what it found.
Apr 2, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

The next time you’re ready to redecorate a room, don’t head to a furniture store. Your future chair or coffee table is waiting for you in a dumpster.

That’s the idea behind the Scarcity Project, a venture by artist and designer Paulo Goldstein. He and his team furnished an entire room at London’s Central Saint Martins with objects that had been tossed on the curb or in the trash—and the results are spectacular.

The project came into being after Goldstein, a recent graduate of the college, was approached by the head of the school, Jeremy Till, about revamping an empty space on campus. Goldstein and his team of scavenging designers were inspired by forecasts from top economists that connect the end of global growth with the depletion of cheap resources. Our consumer culture, which trains us to go buy a new chair if the cushion on the one we have rips, is unsustainable. That means the new frontier is repurposing the things we now consider trash.

While the idea of dumpster diving might freak out the shopaholics (or germaphobes) among us, the project’s Facebook page suggests that we approach “scarcity not as a limitation, but as a matter of perspective.” It’s also an opportunity. “Creativity in times of scarcity can empower the individual to take matters into his own hands,” according to the project.

As you can see in the above video, a hands-on experience is just what goes down. The things the Scarcity Project team does with the found items require some serious imagination and skill. After all, when’s the last time you saw an abandoned leather couch on a curb and thought it would make an awesome wall hanging or floor covering?

That said, these designers weren't born knowing how to use a drill and a bunch of yarn to turn a broken chair into a thing of beauty. In an age when everyone talks about constant learning, we can each become creators instead of consumers. And at a time of scarcity, that's exactly what needs to happen.