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Many things get better with age. Quality clothes, classic cars and antique furniture all become ever more lovely as the decades roll past. Whether you like to keep second hand pieces the way you find them or upcycle them into something new, finding or rescuing something with timeless appeal always feels like a triumph. Artist Catri Osborne-Barrett believes that ‘the potential for upcycling is enormous, from damaged furniture and quarter-full tins of paint to the buttons on a stained and torn shirt.’
Growing up with a family who ran a storage and removal business, natural hoarder Catri wasn’t allowed to throw out customers' unwanted items so began experimenting with techniques for giving other people’s junk a new lease of life. ‘AlI the pieces I upcycle have been rescued from landfill and although I work with anything, it’s usually furniture as that seems to be what people throw away most often.’ She specialises in turning damaged furniture into contemporary, iconic pieces and constantly develops new techniques. She also likes to experiment with different materials. ‘For me, another person’s rubbish is my treasure and I see upcycling as a way to give old things a renaissance,’ she says. ‘It gives me a thrill to turn something that people turn their noses up at into something that they desire and are willing to pay money for - all created with materials that people have thrown away. To me upcycling is all about giving something a ‘new life.’
Another expert upcycler is top ethical fashion stylist and founder of Ethical Heaven, Lupe Castro. ‘If a beautiful chair is missing a leg it doesn’t make it less beautifuI,’ she explains. ‘I feel I need to sort of help it along by maybe using a rolling pin covered in material or a varnished brick, a marble bauble or part of an iron balustrade. The trick is to give it a new but beautiful twist.’ The latest pieces she’s been refashioning are some travelling trunks that she found tucked away in her new apartment. She describes them as ‘a little bit worse for wear’ but says they’re evocative of a bygone era where train travel, painted faces and cocktails at six were de rigueur. ‘I took the trunk and stuck an old mirror in the flap and covered the rest with leftover materials that both my mother and grandmother had knocking about, and have used them as dressing table. I love boxes and ribbons and secret nooks and crannies – every time I open the trunk I feel like I’m jumping into another time and it makes me so happy.’When it comes to sourcing furniture, Lupe swears by the Salvation Army shop in Wandsworth, flea markets and small town auction houses, although she admits that some of her best finds have come from skips on the street.