“A world without waste, that is the goal”
As a kid, he already scoured litter boxes in search of something useful. Now, Bastiaan Tolhuijs has turned his passion into his profession: turning discarded trash into design with a story.
The design process always starts with the waste materials, Bastiaan explains. The intention has never been to create interior products – he’s just really addicted to waste. He completed his study at a large industrial company, where they produce 1000 kilograms of steel per day. That was when his first products came into existence. Bastiaan found a lot of used welding spools and thought to use them as the basis of a lamp. When the welding wires on the spool are finished, the spool becomes unusable – except for Bastiaan. Today, it is his most successful product.
“I’m a collector”, he says. “The workplace is extremely cluttered with things I don’t want to throw away. But my passion is to not only upcycle waste materials, but also to make it work, to create a sustainable company. The rationale of upcycling is to show both the manufacturers and the consumers how we can treat waste, and that throwing everything away isn’t the ideal solution.”
The push for Bastiaan to not only make these products, but also start the Amsterdam-based company that Tolhuijs is today, was to show people that it is possible to make design from these waste materials. His philosophy is: if the products are genuinely desirable, people are going to want to have them. The first thing that comes to mind when seeing his creations should be “I want that”, not “That’s made of waste”.
Bastiaan studies industrial design in Delft, the Netherlands. His goal always was to come up with simple, elegant and creative solutions. His study came in handy a lot from a technical standpoint. “In creating a lamp such as the SPOOL, there’s so much technical knowledge that is demanded of you. It really is a combination of technical skills and creativity.”
His work is not only sustainable from a material standpoint, but also a company standpoint. “Being respectful to the waste materials should go hand in hand with being respectful to the people that handle them.” For the production of his designs, Bastiaan works together with prison inmates who are employed within jail and with people from the social workplaces.
He visits the facilities regularly, and he always finds it a joy to visit. “I’m not intimidated by the inmates of the prison, they’re just normal people like you and me who happen to have done something wrong in their lives. That doesn’t make them any less deserving of my respect. In fact, I help some of them to get a job at these welding companies once they come out of jail. I really enjoy doing that.” Through his holistic approach, Bastiaan really seems to be able to make a change in society through his sustainable mindset. “The ideal goal is a world without waste. I hope my work can be a step in that direction”.
By Bastiaan Sizoo