Willem Zwiers melds second-hand books together to form marbled furniture

Design student Willem Zwiers has salvaged second-hand books and used them to form a small furniture collection, currently on show at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show at Dutch Design Week.

Under the title Transformed Remnants, the range encompasses a side table and desk lamp as well as a bookshelf, which was itself made from books including several Bibles and assorted self-help literature.

Zwiers estimates that several hundred volumes were needed to make the three pieces, all of which he was able to source for free from local second-hand shops as they were set to be thrown away due to small defects like missing pages.

Willem Zwiers has turned second-hand books into furniture

“When I picked them up, my car was full of books, like completely full,” he told Dezeen. “Not a single other book could’ve fit into my car.”

Back in his studio, Zwiers removed the covers and used a circular saw to slice the books into horizontal strips, ensuring each still had its spine for structural integrity.

Much like Tetris blocks, these excerpts were slotted together, bent and squeezed to fill various hand-made moulds, saturated with diluted wood glue and compacted together with rubber bands and wood clamps.

The resulting collection includes a lamp, side table and book shelf

The result is a composite reminiscent of particle board but with the swirling texture of marble that Zwiers assembled into a series of raw-edged furniture pieces.

“We treat marble like it’s precious and I found it an interesting contrast to this material because we throw away a lot of books,” Zwiers said.

Individual words and cut-off sentences are visible on the furniture’s roughly hewn sides, hinting at the origin of the material.


Customers exchange urine for soap at Het Nieuwe Instituut pop-up shop

All of the pieces are stable enough to stand on their own and hold up other small items, although the material is not yet strong enough to bear the weight of a person.

“I can still develop it further with higher pressure, maybe even in a vacuum machine to get rid of all the air,” Zwiers said.

“Then it should be even stronger and then I can make chairs out of it. That will be a challenge for the future.”

They are held together using nothing but pressure and diluted wood glue

Transformed Remnants is currently on display as part of the DAE Graduation Show, which this year has taken over vacant retail units inside Eindhoven’s central Heuvel shopping centre in a bid to introduce students’ work to the public.

Another Dutch Design Week project that aims to bring experimental projects into the real world is Het Nieuwe Instituut’s New Store pop-up, where visitors can exchange their urine for soap, which is made using the pee of previous donors.

The photography is by Nicole Marnati.

The graduation show is taking place as part of Dutch Design Week 2023 from 21 to 29 October. See Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.

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