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Erik Zwaga: Belgium’s newest eco-design star

The Ecologist

25th March, 2011

With a talent for breathing new life into what most of us would regard as junk, designer, Erik Zwaga, has taken the art of upcycling to new heights

Better known for chocolate, waffles and being the headquarters of the EU, not many people realise that Belgium is also at the forefront of cutting edge design. From architect-cum-bag designer Dominique Dufait to iconic fashion maestro Martin Margiela and furniture specialist Dirk Wynants, the Belgians are right up there with the Danes when it comes to creativity. Now Belgium has a new name to watch in the shape of artist and designer, Eric Zwaga, whose striking pieces are all made from recycled materials.

Not for Zwaga, the twee organic cotton tea towels and natural hemp mats that make up so much of the eco-friendly homeware on offer. Instead his recycled pieces, ranging from prints to furniture, have an anarchic, deconstructed vibe and wouldn’t look out of place in an Arne Jacobsen exhibition. ‘I remember that my grandmother threw nothing away: everything could be reused, everything got a 'second life' before something, or parts of it, disappeared into the bin bag,’ says Zwaga. ‘Within two generations this approach almost vanished in Western society. Incredible! People buy too many things they don't need and throw too much away. I try to save them as much I can and upcycle them into artefacts  that please the eye and the mind.’

To find out more, go to: www.emjz.com

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