Daisuke Yamamoto presents recycled steel chairs under Milan railway arch

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Flow exhibition design by Daisuke Yamamoto

Flow exhibition design by Daisuke Yamamoto

Japanese designer Daisuke Yamamoto presented recycled steel chairs on podiums of the same material as part of an exhibition in Milan, which has been shortlisted for a 2023 Dezeen Award.

Yamamoto’s Flow project explores ways to minimise industrial waste by focusing on a single material – light-gauge steel (LGS).

A series of steel chairs on podiums within a railway arch
Daisuke Yamamoto presented his Flow chairs as part of the Dropcity showcase

Commonly used in construction as a strong, lightweight framing option, LGS is also one of the industry’s largest waste products, Yamamoto claims, as it is rarely recycled after demolition.

The designer therefore chose to create a second life for the steel sheets and components as a series of sculptural chairs.

Light-gauge steel chairs on podiums made from the same material
The chairs were placed on podiums made from the same light-gauge steel

He also used LGS to form platforms for showcasing the seating designs as part of an exhibition at Milan design week 2023 that has been shortlisted in the exhibition design category of this year’s Dezeen Awards.

“This project began with the awareness that everyday recycled construction materials are disposed of, then new construction begins – a so-called ‘scrap and build’,” Yamamoto said.

Recycled steel chairs with different forms
Each of the recycled steel chairs had a different form

“Using the iconic LGS material – one of the most popular materials normally used in framing systems throughout the interior wall structure – we transformed it into beautifully redesigned furniture, giving the materials a second chance,” he added.

The exhibition formed part of the Dropcity showcase, which took place inside the Magazzini Raccordati spaces at Milan Central Station during the design week in April.

A workshop bench with a partially built chair on top
A workshop bench was also placed at the centre of the space

These empty railway arches have a dilapidated, industrial aesthetic with peeling floors, stained tilework and exposed utilities.

Yamamoto chose to leave the vaulted room largely as he found it but placed a series of platforms in two rows, upon which he presented the series of chairs.

Track lighting was installed overhead to spotlight the elevated designs, each of which has a slightly different shape.

In the centre of the exhibition, a workshop bench also built from lightweight gauge steel was used to fabricate more chairs during live demonstrations between Yamamoto and craft artist Takeo Masui.

Daisuke Yamamoto and Takeo Masui building a recycled steel chair
Yamamoto and Takeo Masui built more recycled steel chairs during live demonstrations

“This is a landfill, a place where a volume of used LGS is collected,” Yamamoto said. “A place where the designer and craftsmen work hand in hand to recreate what was bound to be disposed into something new, a process of disassembling to re-assemble.”

The intention was to not only showcase the material’s capabilities for reuse but also to allow visitors to engage with the process and ask wider questions about how society deals with waste.

Daisuke Yamamoto and Takeo Masui assembling a chair
The demonstrations allowed visitors to engage with the process

Using waste materials produced by other industries was a key trend that Dezeen spotted during this year’s Milan Design Week, with designers and studios including Formafantasma, Prowl Studio, Atelier Luma and Subin Seol all looking to reduce the environmental impact of their products.

The photography is by Takumi Ota.

Future Landfill took place at Magazzini Raccordati from 15 to 23 April 2023 as part of Milan Design Week. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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