The visual artist and environmental designer Michelle Brand specializes in “upcycling.” She transforms trash into interactive, usable works of art. Her famous lamps, created from the bases of plastic bottles, are the ultimate examples.
Art, 100% recycled. Through her work, Michelle Brand questions the utility of empty plastic bottles. The artist cuts, sands and assembles PET into small flowers that bloom in her hands. These, then, become lamps and cascading chandeliers, sometimes several meters long. For her, these flowers are more than art; they send an educational message to consumers. She’s betting that these pieces of plastic will heighten the viewer’s awareness of “recycling and the concept of trash.” She characterizes her work as “funky,” but also “sexy and desirable.” She manages to slip a bit of poetry into the plastic, along with her philosophy of life. Brand also questions why objects that cost millions to manufacture become purposeless after one use. She doesn’t present herself as a singular solution, but rather proposes a true reflection on what “is” and what “was.” The designer is convinced that today’s society is “more and more worried about the environment, and more and more eager for recycled products.”
An artist who has made her mark
Michelle Brand owes her reputation to the plastic lighting that she presented in New York during the 2007 HauteGREEN eco-design show. There, she was awarded the Inhabitat Editors Choice prize. The same year, she won the “Female Inventors and Innovators Gold award in the Environment section” in recognition of her innovations. By 2012, her works had been exhibited throughout Great Britain, her native country, as well as Milan, New York and Paris.
Michelle Brand supports the philosophy of slow design, which flies in the face of our current culture of instant consumption. In her exhibitions, she emphasizes the present moment, welcoming poetry and contemplation. The “green” designer also tries to share the benefits of her experience. In partnership with English primary schools and universities, she educates students about recycling by means of reflection and creativity. Her goal is “to challenge the paradigm of waste.”