OK Upcycling Studio

by Angelina Bouchard

When we throw something away, we are effectively denying ownership of it. Most of what we own is purchased, if not gifted, meaning that at some point in time we claimed responsibility over an object for reasons of necessity, convenience, or indulgence. Yet, it is so easy for us to take items that are still in good shape and toss them in the bin, never to be seen again. We could reduce waste and make the world a better place if we valued our possessions for the use we could get out of them rather than chasing the next new, shiny product. If that still doesn’t appeal to you, a lot of money can be saved in the process as well. It is no secret our society has a serious waste issue, but a lack of awareness and education on the topic prevents real change from taking place.

The OK Upcycling studio in Auroville is dedicated to tackling the waste problem at a local level. By reusing discarded materials, they create products and give them a new purpose. Upon entering the warehouse, AUP students were amazed to find artwork, handbags, furniture, and clothing all made from what we usually consider to be garbage. Ok-jeong, a South Korean artist who runs the studio, shared her passion with us during a tour of the studio. Perhaps the most striking aspect of our visit was learning about the team’s expertise in lighting fixtures. After a brief lesson on how lighting can affect our mood and behavior, designer Darren demonstrated his light beam diffuser made entirely out of DVD casings. My peers and I were enlightened, to say the least. His apprentice, Jasper, then showcased his own creations, which included an old orange umbrella repurposed as a lamp with a warm glow. Another ceiling lamp hanging in the studio was made out of sunglasses in the shape of an orb.

Seeing the beauty in trash is a skill that takes practice. The team has a sharp eye for style and practicality, along with an unmatched sense of creativity. They highlight imperfections and flip our perspective of what can be considered valuable.

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