When it comes to turning trash into treasure, we’ve seen lighting created from a bevy of unconventional materials. Everything from concrete, to egg cartons, to soda bottles has become the foundation of a new modern fixture. But The 3-man design team at Seattle-based Graypants takes sustainable sourcing and turns it on its head. The pieces in the collection are aptly called “scrap lights,” and can be found in a number of Starbucks stores across the country.
Graypants was founded by architects who wanted to return to what they loved about their craft: design, drawing and making things by hand. The company now literally turns trash into treasured modern lighting, using discarded cardboard boxes, newspapers and wood and making daily dumpster dives to salvage clean cardboard for their aptly named “scraplights.The cardboard material comes from various businesses around Seattle and is taken back to the studio to be laser cut, glued together, coated for fire resistance and outfitted with bulbs and wiring. The shapes and corrugated cardboard create intricate cutouts that play with light and shadow when lit. Here’s a quick illustrative guide to the process:
The name “Graypants” was a joke at first; founders Jonathan Junker and Seth Grizzle were schoolmakes who consistently rocked the same pair of gray pants to the point of notoritey among their friends. When it came time for a company moniker, a friend suggested their long-standing nickname, and Graypants was born.
We caught up with Principal and Design Director Jonathan Junker to learn more about this Seattle-based studio:
Where do you find inspiration? The nature surrounding Seattle is one of the most inspiring environments on our planet! The water, mountains, and forests are breathtaking. I’m also very inspired by my travels. Recently I took a train from coast to coast, stopping at the Grand Canyon along the way. It’s easy to forget how incredible the hidden parts of our own country are when most of us travel by air. I finished that trip inspired, grounded, and feeling very creative.
What is important to you in design? We always talk about “responsible design” in our studio. Being sustainable is much more than just using a recycled material. We’ve been able to maintain our core values as a design studio and manufacturer by producing our products locally, with local talent and local materials. One year ago we opened a second studio in Amsterdam so we could produce locally for the European market as well. In Europe, we’ve been able to take it a step further and support social works programs to help employ people with disabilities who have a hard time finding hands-on creative jobs. In today’s environment, I think all designers should be thinking this way.
How does your design process work? We have a saying in our studio: “Dream, Scribble, Make.” Basically, we never shy away from trying something new! We’re always getting our hands dirty and always amazing ourselves with the unexpected places that approach leads.
Click here to read the full Q&A with the Graypants gang.