Skip to content
Free Shipping & Easy Returns in North America (Learn More)
Free Shipping & Easy Returns in North America (Learn More)

Upcycling: how our artisans are pushing the BOUNDARIES OF sustainable luxury

It is said that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and it’s never been more true than when it comes to upcycling, where waste is converted into new products that are superior to the original.

This differs from traditional recycling, which involves taking consumer waste (usually plastic, paper, metal or glass) and breaking it down before turning it into a reusable product. The conventional environmental trope of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has evolved into Upcycle, Repurpose, Reuse—bringing a second life to products or materials that would have otherwise been discarded. 

UPCYCLING CAN BE TRACED BACK TO EARLY HUMANS

The history of upcycling can actually be traced back to early humans, when the reuse and “upcycling” of materials and products was an essential part of life. The idea was taken mainstream when architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart published the book “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”, in 2002.

The book was printed with soy-based ink on plastic pages and the ink could be removed, allowing another book to be printed on the pages or the plastic to be upcycled into an equal or higher quality product. In order to achieve sustainability in the face of the global trash epidemic, limited resources, and other environmental challenges, McDonough and Braungart called on designers and innovators across industries to remake the way we make things.  

HOW OUR PARTNERS ARE SETTING THE STANDARD IN SUSTAINABLE LUXURY

At Obakki, sustainability is at the core of everything we do and our artisan partners are dedicated to creating timeless pieces that are made to last and be cherished, while reducing their environmental impact.

HANDCRAFTING JEWELRY FROM UPCYCLED HORN AND WOOD

In Kibera, one of the world’s most impoverished communities, our design partners create beautiful products from scraps found throughout the city. Using pieces of upcycled animal horn and discarded wood, these talented makers are utilizing their craft to create a new future for themselves while reducing the impact on the environment.

HAND-FORGING JEWELRY AND HOME OBJECTS MADE FROM 100% UPCYCLED BRASS

Sylvester is a master blacksmith in Kenya whose designs use existing disposable materials and he skillfully reworks them into unique fine jewellery creations. Sylvester's collection of brass jewelry and home objects are made from 100% upcycled brass—discarded taps, padlocks, and old coins that would have otherwise ended up in the junkyard. With a design-led aesthetic, Sylvester skillfully remakes these existing materials into beautiful, one-of-a-kind creations.

Artisanal Handmade Brass & Horn Earrings | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Brass & Horn Earrings | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Brass & Horn Earrings | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Brass & Horn Earrings | Sylvester

Brass & Horn Earrings

$75.00
Artisanal Handmade Stacked Illusion Ring | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Stacked Illusion Ring | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Stacked Illusion Ring | Pre-Order | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Stacked Illusion Ring | Pre-Order | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Stacked Illusion Ring | Pre-Order | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Stacked Illusion Ring | Sylvester

Stacked Illusion Ring

$85.00
Artisanal Handmade Geometric Cutout Earrings | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Geometric Cutout Earrings | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Geometric Cutout Earrings | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Brass New Earrings - waiting on PDP | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade New Earrings - waiting on PDP | Obakki

Geometric Cutout Earrings

$75.00
Artisanal Handmade Twisted Nail Ring | Pre-Order | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Twisted Nail Ring | Pre-Order | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Twisted Nail Ring | Pre-Order | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Twisted Nail Ring | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Twisted Nail Ring | Sylvester
Artisanal Handmade Round Line Ring | Sylvester

Twisted Nail Ring

$85.00

CREATING WOVEN ART FROM TEXTILE WASTE

Our weaving partners from Querétaro create truly sustainable products using textile waste, upcycled raw cotton, and fiber from a Sansevieria plant to create unique and timeless objects for the home. This shift from a linear to circular economy ensures that artisans are offered opportunities to continue growing their business in a way that benefits the environment where they work.

Whether they’re melting down existing metals to create something new or using components of old jewellery to make new pieces, or taking textile waste to create stunning wall pieces, these creative minds are setting the standard in sustainable luxury. 

THE FUTURE OF UPCYCLING 

As upcycling continues to evolve, the idea of deconstructing and recombining waste products to create luxury craft items remains a cornerstone of our approach to slow design. We are proud to partner with these innovators to bring you contemporary pieces, thoughtfully designed with waste and exquisitely created, that are steeped in tradition and sustainability. And we can’t wait for you to welcome them into your home.

Related Posts

The History of our Artisans

It’s important for Obakki to acknowledge the past struggles that many of our artisans have faced. You could never imagine what the people in many of the regions we work in have overcome...

MAGIC IN THE MUD

We are very thankful for the opportunity to work with our main artisan partners in Mexico—a group of diverse Mexican potters located in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Puebla...

WHAT IS ORGANIC COTTON AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?

What is organic cotton? What’s the difference between organic and non-organic cotton (and why should I care)? And what do you mean your t-shirts also contain recycled plastic? What’s that about?