Oceans

Sotheby’s London commissions Australian designer Brodie Neill to create new pieces from recycled plastic and wood

But since the trees are already drowned, this “hydrowood” (harvested by a Hobart-based company of the same name) is now – like Neill’s ocean terrazzo – back on the market.

Called ReCoil, the table is made from 3½ kilometres of strips of once-submerged Huon pine, eucalyptus, Tasmanian oak, celery top pine, sassafras, myrtle and blackwood. These have been algorithmically coiled to create the abstract-patterned tabletop; the base formed. from larger panels to create an insulating solid foundation.

“What is captivating about Brodie’s work is his creation of beautifully crafted designs with distinctive and seductive organic shapes realized through the development of innovative processes,” says Elena Checchi, design specialist at Sotheby’s London, which has commissioned nine new pieces by Neill that will go on sale next month.

Brodie Neill’s Flotsam (blue) and Jetsam (green) tables made from “ocean terrazzo”.

Showcasing the recycling potential of plastic, timber and now steel too, the Material Consciousness series features a Gyro table in reverse colorways (from deep blue interior to white on the outside); a Jetsam dining table and Flotsam coffee table composed of largely unsorted pellets “ basically referencing the spectrum of rubbish out there ”, says the designer.

Precious (and now protected) tropical wenge wood has been salvaged from a school in Leicester and turned into a series of Torso low tables, while mahogany floorboards from a hospital in West Sussex have rematerialized as a sinuous bench.

Neill has used recycled steel to interpret his own @ chair – an ode to the symbol of the internet era that was selected by Time magazine for its Design 100 issue in 2008. Prices are expected to range from £ 8000 to £ 10,000 ($ 14,000 to $ 17,500) for a Torso stool, to £ 90,000 for the larger and more complex pieces.

To be clear: Neill’s work barely makes a dint in the giant carapace of environmental cataclysm, but it sticks in the mind and that is the key to its potency.

So much so that Sotheby’s has selected Neill for the first of its Design series, substantially the 278-year-old auction house enters the primary market in the design sector, effectively directing collectors’ attention where it feels it will yield optimal returns. Clearly, it is putting its bets on sustainability.

“Neill’s precision and ability to combine advanced design technology with craftsmanship of the highest quality is utterly distinctive,” says Checchi. “His work positively contributes to today’s dialogue on environment and sustainability.”

The May issue of AFR Magazine, the Philanthropy issue, is out on Friday, April 29 inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.

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