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London’s homeless ‘upcycle’ to create designer furniture

United Kingdom – A London-based ‘social enterprise’ known as The Living Furniture Project has been established to weave together three unlikely elements: designer furniture; reclaimed materials; and a more promising future for the homeless.

The new venture is run by a team comprising some of the capital city’s leading ‘eco-designers’ who are training a group of London’s homeless in the art of upcycling using unwanted furniture or other waste materials reclaimed from the local area.

‘Our partner designers teach our homeless apprentices to build the furniture in our fully-equipped workshop,’ explains founder Alastair Sloan. ‘Apprentices also work alongside a mentor – a professional and experienced furniture-maker who teaches them valuable skills and ensures a beautiful, crafted final product.’

Reclaimed wood expert Nic Parnell, one of the specialists in the design pool, says the project has emerged at a good time given that the number of homeless people in London increased by 42% between 2011 and 2012 alone. In addition, UK households landfilled around 670 000 tonnes of furniture last year – 45% of which was reusable, according to research from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

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