Manoteca reclaimed materials tree

The designers at Italian design team Manoteca take their work seriously, with a side of whimsy. Their ultimate goal is to reuse and revamp abandoned materials, making old or discarded items into new and beautiful objects.

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Abandoned materials Manoteca bike

More than anything, the feeling behind their projects is to keep the materials alive and let them stay useful for longer than anyone could have predicted. Wood, metal, suitcases, and other treasures more than a century old are revamped into shapes and functions that most of us would never have dreamed of. Old tricycles become roving libraries, complete with little plug-in lamps and neat slots for books.

Abandoned materials Manoteca desks

Carefully and lovingly restored suitcases become the removable top of a puzzle-like table. A dining table opens up to become a work table for an artist, complete with storage pockets for supplies. The wondrous surprises created by Manoteca should be a lesson to designers (and DIY enthusiasts) everywhere: reused materials, treated well, display even more personality and originality than the most modern of materials.

The tree-shaped piece is called Haiku: “The tree is an ancient and mystical archetype. One of its symbolic meanings is the relation between heaven and earth as well as between reality and dreams. This piece is a representation of a memory. We aimed to recreate what nature gives us. After all, the forest is like a comfortable, soft, bed, the tree, a magnificent roof.”

The table made of luggage is called Box Sir: “If you take it apart, Box Sir will continuously change shape and use. By taking away the boxes, you’re left with open surfaces you can put anything on. The boxes, originally designed to hold anything, can be put back onto the frame as you like, thanks to a strong magnetic underside which is carefully and adequately concealed and insulated.”