Crafty Berlin: A Design Workshop with berlin-re-cycle

photos: Valerie-Siba Rousparast

Using something old and repurposing it for something entirely different – doesn’t this sound like something totally typical for Berlin? Just think of all the old, disused buildings close to the “death strip” back in the early nineties that were re-used by the artist and subculture scene for various new purposes, all the nightclubs in old factories and power stations. Think of all the cafes and bars fully furnished with granny’s old interior, the urban playgrounds like Holzmarkt or Klunkerkranich made of scrap wood and metal. There are countless examples here in Berlin that paint a picture of a city that constantly recycles and repurposes itself.

Stuart N. R. Wolfe is one of the creative minds in Berlin that perfectly understands the spirit of Berlin. For his project berlin-re-cycle he found one disused material that Berlin has quite a lot of: Old abandoned bikes. The streets are full of them and Stuart saw them as a great source for material. Through his work as a sculptor and furniture designer he already handled a lot of unusual materials and created new shapes in the past. With the scrap pieces of the bikes he now extended his repertoire with something quite practical: lamps.

To spread the idea of recycling and upcycling Stuart is not just simply selling his lamps, he also offers a workshop in partnership with Priceless Berlin® where he teaches curious participants how to refurbish and prepare the old bike parts, assemble the electrical parts and braze it all together in the end to create a fun and practical lamp object. In the end you of course get to keep your own lamp.

But how do you get from being a sculptor to making lamps from old bike parts you might wonder? In the case of Stuart it was a long way that led him all the way around the world. Stuart was born in London, but grew up partly in Berlin and partly in India. He lived in many major cities and traveled practically in all parts of the world, soaking up inspiration for his sculptures. Whenever he came to countries where people are lacking a lot of things he was reminded of how much we have back here in Berlin, and many things also more than we actually need. This observation made him start a project where he refurbished abandoned bikes from the streets of Berlin to send them to countries where people really needed them. Of course in the process of this he ended up with a lot of spare parts so he started to create little objects and lamps from it. One of them in particular, a small table lamp with the nickname “Blamp” became such a hit that he felt encouraged to start a whole line of lamps, including bigger lamps made of bike frames and wheels and wall lamps made of saddles. The possibilities seem endless what he could do with the parts and so an impressive portfolio of products grew that is now available in various shops in Berlin, Hamburg and Switzerland as well as in his online shop or by custom order.

During our time that we spend with Stuart in his studio we also got try out his workshop and make our own little “Blamp”. We were supplied with all the tools and materials that we needed for this and were guided through the process of preparing everything and putting it together. It does require some precision and fine motoric skills, but ultimately I think everyone will be able to succeed the tasks. In the end you will feel super proud to have created your very own lamp from bike parts – it’s not just a product that you bought. it is something that tells a story – and one that you were involved in. A pretty great memory – priceless, you could say.

Speaking of which, the workshop is something you can exclusively book through Priceless Berlin® if you own a MasterCard®, along with many other priceless experiences. And if you don’t want to get your crafts on there is also a a special offer where you can buy a bigger lamp and get the little Blamp for free as an add-on.

While working on the lamp we also learned from Stuart the difference between recycling and upcycling, the latter being a more specific term for the process of repurposing an object or material for something entirely new in disregard of its original function. This little lamp is a good example for how you can create such an iconic piece of design from something so ordinary. It just perfectly reflects the spirit of Berlin of using the old for something new. Who needs a new canvas, if you have a long stretch of Berlin Wall to paint on. Who needs a garden if you can plant your herbs and vegetables on the grounds of an empty lot. If there is one thing or place in Berlin that seems abandoned and forgotten, one creative person is surely going to come by and turn it into something new…

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<a href="" target="_self">Frank</a>



Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of iHeartBerlin. He takes photos, makes videos, and writes texts mostly about what's going on in Berlin. His vision and interests have shaped iHeartBerlin since its conception back in 2007 - and he hopes to continue bringing you the best of Berlin for many years to come.