I’ve found myself getting on my high horse recently about sustainability. Maybe it’s an age thing. Maybe it’s because I’ve been living in lush Swiss countryside and I’m now like totally in tune with nature, man. Whatever. I’m comfortable with it.
In this blog piece I’ll introduce you to a truly unique and sustainable Swiss furniture company that I’ve spotted on my travels…
Something we search for in buildings is character. Buildings that really get this balance right are often a considered blend of old and new, where gritty industrial features meet – and emphasise – slick new design. Or vice versa. A New York (or Manchester) loft apartment with modern stainless kitchen for example, or a Swiss Rustico (old Alpine stone house) renovation with ultra minimal interiors. London is awash with beautiful old buildings throughout Clerkenwell and Shoreditch that are rapidly being converted into coworking spaces, coffee shops or homes by a gentrification army of bearded hipsters.
But when we build shiny modern buildings how do we inject soul? How do you break up those clean efficient lines to provide a warm, casual ‘lived-in’ vibe and inject industrial cool? You could start by giving these guys a nudge.
Kyburz Made: A second life for waste wood
Fuelled by a creative passion, Tobias and Rainer Kyburz have a long history of… well, making stuff. Years ago in their parents garage, they could be found planing and sanding, sawing and finishing…and tuning their mopeds.
A few years later and Tobias and Rainer went their separate ways for a while (Tobias was a craft teacher whilst Rainer studied business), but they never lost sight of their dream to go into production together. During their time apart they honed their skill sets and kept this dream on the back burner, biding their time.
Waste Not Want Knot
One day Tobias stumbled upon an old cupboard door, discarded in the street. He carefully revitalised it and turned it into a table top that he then sold to a friend. He spent time learning about the ageing process of different materials, paying close attention to the weathering, restoring and preservation of wood and metals. The idea gained traction.
5 years ago the Kyburz brothers acquired a workshop in Basel. With Tobias as the creative mind and Rainer leading Company strategy, Kyburz Made was born. Enthused by honest, ethical and sustainable local production, the brothers turned their enthusiasm and business savvy into furniture products. And cool ones too.
Seeing themselves as modern ‘hunter gatherers’, the pair track down discarded second hand materials, before treating and revitalising them. They call these materials hidden treasures and talk passionately about the beauty within. Kyburz painstakingly restore, build and create, to give these unloved cast-offs a second life as completely new furniture objects with a pre-loved industrial echo. I’m picturing the Kyburz’s scouring skips and building sites with child-like excitement. And I’m not far from the truth.
The recent demolition of Basel’s Hilton Hotel was described as ‘Christmas came early’. Skiploads of waste were snaffled up to await transformation into a sideboard, a sofa, a table, a shelving unit… or maybe something else.
At present production is limited. Each piece is numbered and completely unique. The pair are propelled by a genuine love of what they do and are enjoying the ride. Questions like ‘Will it make money?’ or ‘Is it scaleable?’ are dismissed as the pair enjoy a return to their childhood. Kyzburg Made offer workshops and (after my own heart) preach about sustainable local production.
“Worthless junk. Unloved, dissed and dismissed…”
And all this using materials that are being thrown away. Worthless junk. Unloved, dissed and dismissed, before being found and loved into a new existence. Sometimes this takes several attempts. They design, build and consider, before dismantling to begin again. It has to be just right.
The Kyburz brothers are making a strong creative statement about our disposable society and demonstrate this through their complete transparency from sourcing, to production methods, design and aesthetics. This transparency is of great importance to them both. Every Kyburz Made piece of furniture proudly wears it’s history. Every piece tells a different story. Unique and sustainable furniture with an old soul. Ashes to ashes, rust to lust.