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Feb 052010

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Recycling doesn’t mean settling for something less. It can mean adding value for less. But the end product might even be better than ever. (Hence, the term upcycling.)

VictorVictoria chair (Photo: Blugirlart Inc.)

VictorVictoria chair (Photo: Blugirlart Inc.)

But whether a first iteration or an item’s reincarnation is superior hardly matters when the end result makes the owner happy and the object serves its purpose well, maybe even rises above, to a higher calling.

Those who reclaim items for a second or third life are often driven by this reward, the thrill of taking something bound for the trash and rescuing it, restoring it and assigning it to a better life. We’re thinking of artists who meld old garden tools into garden sculpture or carpenters who assemble barn planks into gleaming table tops.

Suzanne Meyer – Pistorius of Springfield, Mass., has chosen chairs to fulfill her creative desires. A designer by training with a history in the fast-paced New York City fashion industry, Meyer-Pistorius began to dream about a new vocation while on long commutes into the city.

She wanted to combine her hand painted fabric business with a recycling enterprise.

She settled on chairs — so to speak – creating a unique, custom business called Blugirlart Inc

“In the summer of 2008 I started looking for chairs  - some were found on the side of the road, in cellars, auctions and flea markets. Some I literally did save from certain death by termites or just plain rot,’’ she says. “After hours of stripping and sanding they were then taken to the refinisher for professional repair and refinishing.”

After the wood frames are ready, Meyer-Pistorius doodles on fabric, expertly, to develop designs for each chair. Sometimes she paints samples to try out. Other times the chair’s new look just comes to her.

To keep the business green, she has found several upholstery fabrics woven in hemp, a sustainable fiber because hemp grows easily and without pesticides.

Once the painted fabric is ready, a chair is sent out for reupholstering, with instructions to save as much of the existing springs as possible. Finally, it is sprayed with VECTRA, a green alternative to Scotchguard, Meyer-Pistorius says.

The custom designed chairs, and some sofas, can be seen at Blugirlart website, where they retail for $600 and up (quite a bit up for the antique Betsy Sofa.) Selected pieces also are being shown at the Jia Moderne showroom at the Boston Design Center.

Rockstar chair (Photo: Blugirlart Inc.)

Rockstar chair (Photo: Blugirlart Inc.)

The chairs can be delivered in the Springfield area. Special arrangements are needed for shipping outside New England.

Meyer-Pistorius is no longer commuting to New York City, frustrated that she has no time for her home-grown enterprise, and her chair business is growing in unexpected ways. The Boston Design Center recently asked her to present her custom work to a group of designers, who were “very excited to be able to offer something so original to their clients,’’ she said.

She’s found that “with the magic of email” she can custom design pieces for projects even at a distance when a client emails photos and specifications for chairs they want recovered.

The Blugirlart website also features the recycled collage art of Max Rudolf, who constructs his pieces from discarded paper products and with scrap wood bases.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network