Brooklyn: Repurposed

Brooklyn: Repurposed from Justine Miller on Vimeo.

Five years ago, Cassidy Brush bought some electrical cord in Chinatown, gathered pieces of old wood and more than a dozen mix-matched light bulbs and made her version of a chandelier. Today, she owns a design company known for light fixtures made of reclaimed materials in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The business is so popular that she said she can barely keep up with orders.

Brush said that she has always been crafty but had never put her skills to the test.

“A table saw or any other saw for that matter?” she said. “I had never used one before so it’s a jump! Definitely! But I’m having the time of my life.”

Brush is one of many Brooklynites today who use old materials in an innovative way to create new items. The movement of using reclaimed materials has been around for a few years now but is showing no signs of slowing down.

“The idea of repurposing has become not just a trend but, it’s a fascinating thing,” she said. “We have to consider what we’re going to do with all of our waste.” She added, “I think it is really going to become our lifestyle.”

A few miles away in Red Hook, Matt Loftice has been building his own company, Recycled Brooklyn, based on similar principles.

“We could take the beams out of this building and build a table or you could go cut down a forest,” said Loftice.

In 2011, he started by dumpster diving around Brooklyn to find raw materials to repurpose and make into furniture in his workshop, aka his brother’s kitchen. He now has a large warehouse where he and his staff of almost a dozen work around the clock filling orders that he said just don’t stop coming in. Loftice said that he worked 363 days last year and does not see his schedule easing up anytime soon.

He also said that he thinks using recycled materials will continue to be important to people because of environmental reasons and the limited resources the planet has to offer.

“I thought it was a trend at first but,” said Loftice, “it has to be done. There’s no choice you know. There’s only so much to go around.”