Thursday, 12 November 2015

Recycled, upcycled, repurposed - benches made from stuff

As regular readers will know, I like to keep up with The Times. The bench below was made from 334 recycled newspapers.

Eddie, my Inner Editor: I notice that in recent posts you have been recycling your stories. Poetry, Remembrance, Halloween - those have all been done before.

Yes, Eddie, I thought it would be a good idea to recycle some stories. This has two advantages: 1) it gives my regular readers an opportunity to revisit their favourite benches and 2) it gives me a break from finding new benches. 

Eddie: I wondered why we kept seeing the same benches. I thought you'd gone off your trolley.

No, I was just doing some recycling of Benchsite stories. They say a story gets better every time it's told. 

Eddie:  Sounds like you're trying to dodge the issue. 

No, I'm going to show you some very green benches. And we are very, very green here on Paradise Island. Oh yes we are.

Here is a picture of Fribble-under-Par, which, you will notice, is extremely green.

Eddie: If this is Fribble-under-Par, I'm a banana. 

Actually, you're right, Eddie. It's Sault St. Marie in Ontario in Canada.

Eddie: And there's no bench. 

Alright. How's this then?

Eddie: It's not green.

OK, I can fix that. Here is a green bench against a green wall with some green grass. 

I hope this is green enough for you. 

my photo, Enkhuizen, Netherlands

Eddie: It's green but very, very dull.

OK, here's a more artistic approach. It's a painting by Russian artist Ivan Shishkin. Everything about it is green.

Bench at the Mall by Ivan Shishkin 1872

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly: Here's a rather jolly green bench at Lynmouth where my nanny used to take me for seaside holidays. 

my photo, North Devon UK

Lord Brassica: And another one in Cyprus, which I think my pater used to own at one time.

photo by Sheila B

What, the bench?

Lord Brassica: No, Cyprus. 

Eddie: What has this got to do with recycling?

Nothing. I'm afraid we've got ourselves in a bit of a tangle here over the word green.

© Lionel Martinez at

I just want to show you some benches which are recycled, upcycled or repurposed. 

Eddie: That doesn't explain why you recycled all those stories.

Well, Mungo and Miggy and I were away for a few weeks and I wasn't able to use the internet.

Eddie:  That's the most pathetic excuse I've ever heard. What century are you living in? Do the words Wi and fi mean anything to you? 

We go to remote places, Eddie. Not everyone wants to spend their holiday at Starbucks. 

Eddie: Here's me at my local Starbucks editing The Primate Times.

Eddie, I knew you'd get a picture of yourself in here somehow. You're always sticking your oar in.

Lord Brassica: I'm partial to sea travel. Captain's Table and whatnot. Lady Brassica and I have had some very civilised crossings on the QE2. 

Eddie: She's been recycled too I believe. Gone for scrap.

Lord Brassica: Who, my wife?

Eddie: No, the QE2.  

Lord Brassica: My wife looks very attractive in green.

Enough! Please settle back on your couch bike and have a look at the brilliant recycled benches I've found.

Lord Brassica: I don't care for all this nonsense about recycling. 

Whyever not?  

Eddie: I guess he's just not the type.

I see what you did there, Eddie. This bench is made from two thousand computer keyboard keys. 

Lord Brassica: Is it? That's damned clever. 

You can make a bench out of almost anything. Here's a bench made from 1,400 empty cosmetic bottles.


Eddie: Don't make a big deal of it. Recycling is just another word for stuff.

Yes, but recycling, upcycling, and repurposing all help the planet, plus they inspire some very creative ideas. I've already shown a lot of these on Benchsite and there are some new ones too. So, are you sitting comfortably?

Eddie: Looks like we're saddled with a lot of benches we've already seen.

From boats . . .

Lord Brassica: Good heavens, is this what's become of the QE2?

to balls . . .

Lord Brassica: We put these down our trousers at boarding school. Played havoc when you were 40 All and no one could locate any balls to finish the game. 

From chop sticks . . .

. . . to hockey sticks . . .

Lord Brassica: When you want a bit of high jinx these work rather well for cuffing chaps round the head. 

Eddie: Looks like you can make a bench out of just about anything.

There are no barriers to making benches. 

Philippe Million at

From boards . . .

. . . to bags . . .  

From milk crates . . .

. . . to milk jugs . . .

Lord Brassica: I don't see any jugs here. 

Eddie: Here's a green bench your cows would recognise though.

Lord Brassica: That's more like it. After tiffin I'll bring my herd down and they'll make short work of it for you. 

I'd like to finish my recycled benches if you don't mind. 

From toilets  . . .

Eddie: You're really rolling out the barrel on this one.

Yes, I've surfed the internet for all the best benches.

And I've had my international scouts out looking for interesting benches.

Eddie: I hope it's not all downhill from here.

Very funny, Eddie. 

What's your problem?

Eddie: This blog seems to be going at a snail's pace. 

Lord Brassica: These are the little blighters that play havoc with my salads. My wife says they're delicious with a well-chilled Chardonnay. 

Oh, logs! I'm so glad you reminded me. Of course logs can be repurposed as rustic benches. 

Eddie: I must admit, a log bench doesn't light my fire.

You're very grumpy, Eddie. You need to upcycle your attitude. Here is some very good advice from a tree.

source unknown

Eddie: How can I stand proud and tall? I'm a knuckle-walker. 

I guess I'll just have to be content with my natural beauty.

Bravo, Eddie. You managed to get another picture of yourself into this story. 

I like your jumper. 

Eddie: That's the kind of thing people say when they're out of ideas. You need to bring this blog to a clothes close. 

Hey, wait! I almost forgot: recycled clothes encased in plastic! 

This Plof bench wears them well.

Lord Brassica: I say, I don't think this would fit me. I'd have to get my chap to alter it so I could put my legs through the trousers. 

Eddie: You certainly have an enthusiasm for benches. It must be hereditary.

Yes, it's in my jeans.

You wouldn't believe all the stuff people make with recycled jeans.

Eddie: I have a feeling you're going to show us.

For a start, here's a brilliant camping stool made from the in-and-out seams of nine pairs of jeans.


Lord Brassica: I say, this is very attractive. I could use it in my milking parlour.

It's too posh for that, Lord B. This is a limited edition art stool. 

And as for stools made from other stuff . . .

Lord Brassica: Tally ho, this bench is a corker! 

Eddie: Phone me on your recycled phone when it's over.

But I've got loads more to show you! 

For example, Jacqueline LeBleu in Amsterdam made this colourful bench out of books.

Eddie: We've read this book before. It's in the story about book benches.

It is. Why don't you lie down on the book sofa and read them all again?

Lord Brassica: I've only ever read one book in my life. It was yellow I think. Definitely not green. 

Eddie: I'm getting sooo bored snowboard with these recycled benches.

Lord Brassica: I quite agree. It's time to put this story to bed.

This brilliant B&B bench is made from an old bed . . .

Lord Brassica: Hells bells! My nanny used to have a bed like this! 

Eddie:  I'm really tyred of recycled benches.

Maybe you need to get in touch with your Inner Tube. You should see all the amazing things designers make with inner tubes.

Lord Brassica: Tubes and whatnot I'd have thought.

You need to relax, Eddie. 

This is Madame Dupont relaxing on a recycled box bench.

my photo

You'll note that Madame herself is recycled from corrugated metal.

Eddie: Not for me. I'm going to find a nice restful bench by the sea.

Eddie: And then I'm going to driftwood off and sleep like a repurposed log.

OK, Eddie, sweet greens dreams.


The 334 newspaper bench is by French designer Oscar Lhermitte from his project X in 2008.  It is made from 334 recycled newspapers and three metal bars. Really. No glue, no screws, no nails. Many thanks for his permission to show it. His website is at  The picture of the 334 bench with the girl sitting on it is all over the internet to the extent that I couldn't find its original source. This bench is one of the many literary benches for World Book Day.  

Etienne Reijnder is another brilliant Dutch designer from my Alphabet of Dutch Benches. His Toosh-e is an ex-shopping trolley converted into a bench. Etienne describes himself as a headstrong designer, who especially loves to walk the road of sidetracks and loves challenges. I believe in simple work. The design and material must fit in with the thought process, so don't make it prettier or uglier than it needs to be. I work very crisp, and pure. His website is at

Eddie is my Inner Editor, who just happens to be a primate. If you've seen much of Benchsite you will know what a problem Eddie is for me. He has ruined helped me edit the post about my swimming bench and the Blue Monday benches.  He interfered with stepped in to help with the Orange bench mystery. However, he has a habit of setting his own agenda with the benches. Look what a mess he made great job he did on St. George's Day . And as for my Red benches in February? No wonder I was very grateful seeing red. I've had a bit of a break from him as was in Mexico for a while looking for benches. Now he's back and the primate pictures are in danger of overwhelming my stories.

Todd in Oshkosh, Wisconsin is The Tailgate Guy. He has built 25 benches from tailgates of various kinds and they're sold on etsy  The International Scout, the Dodge and all sorts of others are on his Facebook page, where you can see the whole process from tailgate to bench  

The very green version of Sault St. Marie in Ontario is from my favourite colouring book of all time, Fantastic Cities, by Steve McDonald. 

Bench at the Mall is a Realist work by Russian landscape painter Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin (1832-1898).It was painted in 1872 and is now at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. A minor planet (3558 Shishkin) is named after him. 

The first green bench is indeed in Lynmouth in Devon. I photographed it myself in the summer of 2013 when we were eating fish and chips on the seawall.

The second green bench was photographed in Cyprus by my friend Sheila B, who lives there. She has a good eye for benches and that's why there are plenty of Cyprus benches here on Benchsite. 

The beautiful swirl of green benches is one of a series photographed by Lionel Martinez, who has worked in media since people watched television by candlelight. He calls these the Gone Green Benches because, as I understand it, they used to be in Federal Plaza in New York City. Fittingly, the green benches appear in several Flickr groups such as World of Green and Green is Beautiful.   

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer here on Paradise Island. He loves his horse Tonks, his dog Pru,and his 1947 Landrover, in that order. He indulges his wife, Lady Jessica Brassica with a replica mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor, a beach hut on the Esplanade, and unlimited amounts of cash for shopping. However, it has emerged that he doesn't know as much as you'd think about farm animal benches, especially cow benches or sheep benches. He knows a bit more about horse benches, learned from his horse Tonks, and possibly something about dog benches from his dog Pru. What he really knows though, is picnic benches

Seana knows a thing or two about fresh air and family fun in Sydney. Her website is a comprehensive look at fun stuff to do in Sydney and beyond. Best playgrounds, best beaches, best famiy-friendly cafes - she's got it all. She has also found the best playground benches. The lovely oar bench is at the gorgeous Shelly Beach Playground near Cronulla; Seana and her kids agree that this is the bestest bench ever.

Eddie's right: we've already done cycling here on Benchsite. The Couch Bike from Bike Forest in Ontario is one of many brilliant bike benches. Most bike benches move, but this one moves further than most. Brent Curry and Eivind from rode the Couch Bike through Maritime Canada in 2002. It's a handmade bike with a frame built around an old leatherette love seat. It's steered with a tiller linked to the two front wheels on either side of the couch. Bike Forest aims to promote bicycles and other human powered vehicles as a viable form of transportation. Through renting out a large diversity of well-maintained human-powered vehicles from manufacturers all over the world, Bike Forest hopes to give people a taste of the various options currently available.

Designed by Nolan Herbut, The Wolfgang Keyboard Bench was made using two thousand recycled computer keys embedded on the surface of a Baltic birch wooden bench. Its surface is made entirely of recycled computer keyboard keys and no, it can't be connected to a computer and used to type. But you can push down every one of the keys; they have been attached exactly the way the keys are fitted on to a normal keyboard and make a satisfying click when you type.  Nolan Herbut is a recent graduate of the Industrial Design program at the University of Alberta and he also makes lamps from computer keyboards.

Just in time for World Environment day 2020 South Korean cosmetic company Amorepacific launched their new bench made from 1,400 empty cosmetic bottles. You may notice a plant pot in the middle of the bench; that's for social distancing. The company is Korea's leading cosmetic company and they aim to recycle 100 tonnes of plastic waste each year

The I Reuse Stuff button is from Voz in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
His Etsy shop, Fishcakes, makes nifty stuff like buttons, books, mugs and keychains. There is evidence of the grammar police and spelling vigilantes amongst the many colourful buttons and it's great to see that. For some properly punctuated benches see

The orange Art bench is by Dutch artist Frank Halmans (b 1963) whose work explores themes of domesticity and memory through his sculptural installations.
Art bench is in the park near the Ganskuyl in Dorrestein in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. It was photographed by Willem Nabuurs in 2010.  We've had glorious orange benches on Benchsite before. And for a complete A-Z of Dutch benches, see

Scarabike in Japan makes bikes mostly. They're beautiful, bespoke quality bikes which bring together Japanese craftsmanship, engineering excellence, first-class materials and elegant, understated styling. But designer Hiroshige Koike also made the Scarabike Bike Sofa and the Bike Stool, seen at Tokyo Design Week in 2009. For some other brilliant Japanese bench see 

We rocked the boat with our benches for Maritime Day. The pretty boat bench comes from the Anita Collection in Bali, where Chamsalina Paulus creates furniture from recycled teak wood and oil drums. In the case of benches, some are made from full boats and some are made from half boats.

There are loads of sporty benches and lots of them are made from recycled stuff.  The Tennis ball bench is by Tejo Remy and Rene Veenhuizen at in Utrecht. The two designers studied together at Utrecht School of Art and at Department 3D-Design; they have worked together since 2000 and have a worldwide profile.  By making everything our material, the world is our toolkit. We transform the familiar and incorporate the circumstances. By applying this as a kind of design rule, we create our own freedom.

Yuya Ushida was born in 1975 in Nagoya Japan. He studied mechanical engineering and industrial design. Yuya says, Becoming a designer does not only require the attention to aesthetics, but also an understanding of materials, techniques and usability aspects of the product. The goal is to create products that make people happy.  His chopstick SOFA-XXXX and other designs can be seen at

Nedra is a reading teacher who lives in Utica. She is a proud mom of two; she and her son saw the hockey stick bench outside a shop. Now that the kids are grown, Nedra has got herself a good digital camera and is back to taking nature photos. And hockey stick benches too.

The metal Barrier Bench is a prototype made from galvanized steel. The designer is Philippe Million, who lives and works in Saint-Etienne in France. The photo is by Daniel Besikian and I saw it on the photostream of brunurb at  You can read more about Philippe Million and see his work at

The pallet bench on wheels is one of a wide range range of furniture and other useful things made from pallets. Sheds, gardens, panelling - they can make anything from pallets. I often turn to this site for inspiration.

The bench made from 3900 grocery bags was photographed in Baltimore in 2011 by A Currell, who is sometimes known as WARD. He's way over 18 years of age.  

The blue milk crate bench is by Ms. G, a third grade teacher in Texas. Ms. G loves what she does, and it shows. She was Teacher Of The Year at her campus, and Elementary Teacher Of The Year throughout the district. Her colourful, creative blog is full of very clever arts, crafts and design things that she makes to inspire her pupils. She made the milk crate bench to go in the school library.

The bench made from 1550 milk jugs was at Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro, Maine. It was photographed by  Matt, aka Mr. Ducke, who photographs lots of graveyards, cemeteries, tombs, and cities of the dead. Oh, and cats. Matt has some beautiful cats. In his spare time he's a number cruncher for non-profit.

The green grass bench was on show at the Netherland's Floriade in 2012. It was photographed by Pierre Swillens, who is retired and lives in Maastricht in the Netherlands.

We're flush with toilet benches here on Benchsite. Ruth W from the Wirral has been taking photographs more or less seriously for about 25 years. She photographs places mostly: landscapes, towns, buildings and architectural details, including, for some weird reason, lots of doors and windows. And fortunately for us, toilets, like the two-toilet bench she found in the Pennines near Hebden Bridge.

Thinking outside the boundary of what furniture is, an old metal drum, bicycle parts and other recycled finds turn into industrial works of functional art. Sweet Seat, designed by Rachel Spire at ReGEARED, is crafted from 55 gallon drums, the corners and cut metal edges sealed over with inner tubes from recycled bicycle tires. Other materials include recycled wood decking and bicycle gears, pedals and chains. Based in Dallas, Texas, Rachel's shop is at

There are many surfboard benches around and this one is in a whimsical garden in Hawaii, where Jen R has been living since 1995. Jen is an RN who loves the ocean, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and general fish geekiness.  

What to do with the 100,000 pairs of skis which are thrown away each season in Austria? Designer Jakob Lederer made a garden bench and then it, er, snowballed from there. The wide range of ski-based furniture, including benches, is at Planet Ski, which aims to entertain and inform skiers and boarders about life in the mountains. It's about real life in the Alps and about love for everything to do with skiing and boarding.

The snail bench is in Priory Country Park in Bedfordshire. It was photographed by Simon Speed in 2010 and comes from Wikimedia at  For more lovely animal benches, see what Noah chose for his Ark. 

Doug lives in Montreal and photographs lovely things in Quebec like autumn leaves, and luscious-looking food, and the log bench with white chairbacks. It's one of the many log benches we found last autumn. Doug's photostream is at  

I covered burning benches last autumn and there are quite a few benches on fire, one way or another, on the internet. The burning bench shown here is by Valentine Svennson from Stockholm. Photographed in 2003, it is one of several fires in his Retro collection. I'm not going to ask whether Valentine started the bench fire.

The lovely Advice from A Tree was sent to me in one of those email roundrobin things. I tried hard to find its rightful owner but didn't manage. Looks like it says something like Joanne Ruftis down in the corner. I'd be pleased to credit it properly if the artist/author is known to anyone.

The excellent portrait of Eddie looking studious is from Fringepop, an etsy shop in Atlanta, Georgia. It's full of  8x10 art prints including hipster, pin ups, zombies, steampunk, mermaids, witches, Edgar Allan Poe, Abraham Lincoln, cabinet cards, owls, taxidermy, flappers, octopus, fine art, lowbrow art, and surreal art. Fringepop also has a large selection of roller derby, horror goth, retro kitsch, and circus sideshow. They also love art deco, flapper, and art nouveau pinups and gorgeous deco mermaid art. They specialize in Victorian, medical, sideshow, and other oddity art along with many whimsical animals including squirrels, owls, deer, and ravens. As if this weren't enough, Fringepop loves macabre gothic themessuch as skulls and anatomical art. Favorites also include funny designs with retro sayings and a kitsch quality. 

Atelier Belge aspires to a no-nonsense approach to contemporary living which includes upcycling and other sustainable production methods. Their PLOF bench is a unique, eco-friendly upcycle design bench in which textile leftovers are shredded into smaller pieces and upholstered with see-through durable PE foil to create unique and colourful benches. It looks comfy. The Plof bench was designed in collaboration between Oskar Vermeylen, Vincent Welleman, Yves Verhaegen and Pim Van Eijck.    

I saw the cool pair of jeans stool on the photostream of brunurb, who is from Papua New Guinea.  I'm still trying to find the designer. 

The Swedish denim maker Nudie Jeans is eco-friendly in so many ways but eventually even organic cotton wears out. What to do with it? The In-and-Out Camper Seat is made from the in-and-out seams of nine pairs of jeans and mounted on a steel frame. Inspired by camping, the stools are foldable and can be accompanied by a ragrug which is also made from recycled jeans. Nudie has made a limited run of 250 camper stools, which sell for $299 or €199.

We  pop more than 13 billion corks every year so it's great that Corkology in Chicago makes all kinds of things out of cork, including chairs and stools. Did you know that cork is a renewable crop? Yes,  cork tree bark grows back nine years after harvest. You won't believe the amazing things they do with it!

The SWSX bench is made from recycled Nokia phones. It was photographed in 2011 by 4Eleven Images at

The Booked bench is by designer Jacqueline le Bleu at  The artist describes it as a tribute to the book. It is from the Emerging Benchmarks mobile exhibit of benches designed from reclaimed materials. Jacqueline Le Bleu will create benches or tables in your favourite colours. Her Booked bench features as B in the full alphabet of Dutch benches.

The Duvall bookstore bench is on Main Street in Duvall, Washington, near Seattle. The bookshop website is at   Looks like a real book treasure-trove; I'm going to make a point to visit it next time I'm in Seattle. The photo is from Joe Mabel on

Maddy took the photo of the snowboard bench outside the Totally Board shop in Truckee, California. That was in 2011, when Maddy said she's a total beginner with photography. In the meantime, she's a dinosaur tamer and originates from Noneya. I wonder if she means Narnia? Maybe I've got the wrong lion, witch, wardrobe.

The very large bench made up entirely of tyres is at the Rainforest biome at Eden Project in Cornwall. It was photographed in 2007 by Glamhag, who is a member of the wonderful Bench Whores group on Flickr.

Furniture designer Ivars Gansons is from Riga in Latvia. Back in 2012 he turned an antique bed frame, an old chandlier stand, and a stack of bicycle inner tubes into a beautiful recycled street bench. I saw it at  Ivar's Facebook page is at

Is it ok to sleep on a bench? We've looked at bed benches before, and at beds as benches. The Bed and Breakfast bed bench is in the walled garden of Pythouse (pronounced pit-house) in Tisbury in Wiltshire. The 18th century walled garden is a perfect place to relax or have a bit of a kip in the bed and breakfast bed bench. The photograph is by Carole Dorran, who is a bit of a pilchard. No, seriously, that's her Flickr name. Carole is a genealogist who lives in Gillingham in Dorset. She has a nice collection of benches in her photostream at

Madame Dupont Relaxing is a sculpture by British artist Kate Blacker, who loves working with the remnants of city construction materials. Madame is made from corrugated metal and paint. The bench is made from a wooden box. I saw the sculpture in Southampton Art Gallery in February 2015.

There are some beautiful salty sea benches for World Oceans Day here on Benchsite. One of them is from Jeano Roberts, a surfer and an artist who loves shabby chic coastal styles. Maybe that's not surprising since she grew up in Cocoa Beach, Florida. She works with wood, canvas, paint, seashells, feathers, twine - all kinds of materials for making coastal-style signs and upcycled old furniture. Her handpainted beach bench at the start of the Oceans post was created from an old wooden twin headboard and footboard. The seashells were painted from actual shells placed on the bench and recreated by hand painting them to get the best "fool the eye" effect.  Her blog is at and she also has a shop at

The delightful driftwood bench on the beach is by Martyn Cook from Benchy Benches in Dorset.  He makes original handcrafted driftwood furniture, including benches, from the wood he finds on the beautiful Jurassic coast. The bench pictured is finished with Danish oil for either indoor or outdoor use.

The luscious-looking greens (chard, lettuce and basil) are from Chicago's first vertical farm, The Plant, in a former meatpacking plant in the city's Union Stock Yards. The building includes aquaponics systems, a beer brewery, bakery, rooftop gardens, mushrooms, living walls, and other projects focused on sustainability and materials reuse. The photographer is Rachel Swenie at  

If green benches aren't your thing, you might want to see some bright red ones or some sunny yellow ones. Or some orange ones. You might like some silver and gold ones. And if that's not enough, there are some very, very depressing blue ones for Blue Monday and some black ones for Black Friday There are 50 shades of grey and pink benches to coincide with the release of That film.   Pretty purple benches? No problem. Or fall in love with our romantic white benches  Oh come on! Somewhere there must be a colour you like!


  1. I would so go for the toilets bench!

  2. Thanks, Seana. Great to see your oar bench again. As for toilet benches, you won't be caught short - we're flush with them here on Benchsite!

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