Where rubber meets the room

Times Staff Writer

RECLAIMED rubber may seem a far cry from mahogany or walnut, but recycled tires can be seen in high-end showrooms throughout the country as an essential component of home furnishings.

Michigan designer Andy Gregg’s made-to-order pieces for Bike Furniture Design include tables and lounge chairs made with inner-tube seats framed by welded chrome-plated bicycle rims. With an abundance of black and chrome, the inventive furnishings echo the lines of modernist designers such as Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer, albeit with a hefty dose of irreverence.

Metaform Studio in New York sells the $1,200 kidney-shaped Retire Rocker, right, made from rubber tires and plywood in custom colors. The piece was created by architect and furniture maker Khader Humied, whose design recalls the sinewy forms of Alvar Aalto’s webbed chairs.

Brazilian designers Humberto and Fernando Campana expand on the tire theme with TransNeomatic, above, a decorative bowl made from discarded scooter tires and woven wicker. It was designed for Los Angeles-based Artecnica as part of the firm’s Design With Conscience line, which supports artisans in developing countries. Price: $200 to $320.


“The pendulum is going back the other way,” says Steve Melendrez, whose Silver Lake store the Living Room sells a Moroccan-style ottoman made out of recycled tires for $345.

The problem, Melendrez says, is that many furnishings made of sustainable or recycled materials are expensive, beyond what the average consumer is able or willing to spend. “You want the balance,” he says -- a mix of style, sustainability and affordability.

Enrico Bressan, an art director at Artecnica, agrees.

“The question is how much are people going to be willing to pay,” he says. “That is the puzzle.”


What is clear to the industry, he says, is that recycling comes with a higher cost.

“Humanity has to answer the question,” he says. “It’s not like we can postpone our choices. The reality is that we’re going to pay for it, one way or another.”