You love classic designs, cars and working with new technology and renewable energy. Combine those passions with an equally passionate hatred of waste and planned obsolescence, and you have all the ingredients for the amazing upcycled furniture created by Bel y Bel.
The Barcelona, Spain-based outfit is a small team that does wondrous work. We could happily plonk ourselves down in any of their custom couches (note to self: start looking for a much bigger house). Of course, we’d have to invite all and sundry in to gawk at and covet our stylin’ furniture.
The founders of the company are Carles Bel and Jesus Bel (no relation, just a happy coincidence), who both graduated in fine arts from the University of Barcelona. They started the business in 2005, making old objects into updated, working ones, and their work developed over the years into creating more technology-based and customized personal pieces.
Even their studio is taken from the past and converted into an updated, modern version of itself: They rehabbed a 17th-century farmhouse in Barcelona into a creative space with exposed-stone walls and tiled floors to evoke the building’s past while designing products for the future.
They invite other creative types to enjoy their space, too, envisaging “a meeting point with other artists, filmmakers, musicians or designers with whom we could discover commonalities, with the aim of collaborating and sharing different projects.”
Bel y Bel are vocal fans of the iconic Italian Vespa. “We are declared scooters lovers,” they admit. “We like to lavish attention on our recovered pieces and renew and adapt them to current needs.” When that isn’t possible, they store the rescued bikes in their warehouse, ready to bring to life in future creations.
The Bel y Bel Scooter Chair turns Vespa parts into a comfortable, ergonomic chair. These babies are limited-edition, and each one is numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity. The designers are happy to add extra custom features to ramp up the personalization.
The Ovni Coupe 1500 was created by Bel y Bel for the Trash Cars exhibition in Barcelona in 2012, and the designers transformed the front and rear parts of the car into a unique bar and fridge. The bubble windshields keep the drinks cool, and the LED lights inside can be programmed to show different colors. Sadly this one’s not for sale, though people can rent it for special events.
The cozy Sofa 600 Low Rider uses the car’s rear axle and two wheels for support, and there’s a hydraulic system to raise the whole shebang one and a half meters off its base!
Our favorite, though, has to be the Sofa 600, which is handmade on demand — you have to contact Bel y Bel for the price. The couch uses the car’s two front wings and the original front and rear hood from the Model D. The upholstery is genuine, but from a different car. Feel a party coming on? You’ll be delighted to hear that the sofa features a trunk with a power outlet so you can install a mini-bar or a stereo. No need to worry about drinking and driving with this car, after all.