The purpose of this project is to share specific stories of innovation, intelligence, and circular thinking in design, from grassroots to highly commercial concepts: a chair built of deactivated armaments left over from Mozambique’s civil war as a symbol of transformation and healing; comfortable couches and armchairs assembled from discarded Portuguese wine corks; colorful ottomans made out of left-overs from a Brazilian flip-flop factory…

These designers and artists represent the right-brain side of the circular economy. Their personal stories, cultural influences, and artistic processes humanize this multifaceted zeitgeist.


Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambican), "Throne for an African King," 2007.

Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambican), "Throne for an African King," 2007.

The designers featured in this project have magically disappeared the stigma from trash and the banal out of ordinary objects, giving them renewed life. Traditional hierarchies (artist, designer, village artisan) are swept aside here. The ability to divert consumer discards from polluting an ailing biosphere is shown to be an accessible opportunity for creativity and self-expression. Environmental impact is low, personal satisfaction is high. This circular revitalization mirrors the natural world and brings joy. 


This project, curated by Denise Domergue, begins with the creation of a global, digital archive of these innovators, which will eventually be fully documented in a richly illustrated book. To create a multidisciplinary intellectual framework around this aspect of the growing circular economy, thought leaders from the fields of art, design, sociology, economics, environmentalism, and popular culture will be invited to contribute short essays.

These striking, witty, and accessible designs will be showcased in a series of exhibition venues around the world. Visual storytelling through universal language is at the heart of this project. By examining this global movement, with its promise of self-empowerment and sustainability, from differing perspectives and modalities, we seek to engage and inspire diverse audiences to learn about, discuss, and join in the circular economic approach.

“Listen to an object long enough and it will tell you what it wants to be next.”

- Rodney Allen Trice