We all want to help save the planet, but there's no need to be all doom and gloom about it. Sustainability should be fun and creative too, and here's a great example of that principle in action.
As a leading global tech accessory brand, CASETiFY takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, and its phone case recycling program (known as Re/CASETiFY) is the biggest in the world. Now, in an art initiative for Earth Month, it's turned over 30,000 used phone cases into a stunning series of artworks.
Using materials from the Re/CASETiFY upcycling program, the brand challenged a group of globally renowned artists to create artwork from old phone cases. And Nikolas Bentel, Jaehun Oh, Tyler, and Harry from Crosby Studios did not disappoint.
It's a fun and eye-opening spin on the brand's sustainability programme, which is known for collecting old phone cases from users and turning them into new ones. And these jaw-dropping, colourful pieces showcase the creative possibilities of upcycling materials for artistic purposes.
Sofa so good
The largest piece in the collection is the Re/CASETiFY Couch, designed in Paris by Tyler and Harry from Crosby Studios. The pair have worked with CASETiFY for years already, with their landmark project being the conceptualisation and design of the brand's retail stores, branded under CASETiFY Studio.
Using a simple colour palette and blending multiple cultural references, the Re/CASETiFY couch is stylish and functional and showcases the brand's commitment to sustainability. Made from a colourful mosaic of over 23,000 recycled phone cases, this couch reminds everyone of the stories each case holds while signalling a future where they're repurposed for a fresh start.
Bags of creativity
Second up, the Re/CASETiFY Bag was designed in New York by Nikolas Bentel, a designer and performance artist. Both a jaw-dropping art piece and a highly covetable fashion accessory, it was made from over 1,000 recycled phone cases and shows the fun side of repurposing unexpected materials into a stylish and useful work of art.
"I wanted to create something small and functional to show that these recycled pieces of CASETiFY cases could be reused again for something exciting and novel," Nikolas explains. "The main challenge was figuring out how to separate the different plastics. Melting different kinds of plastics is not a precise process. The molten plastic could create many different results. The challenge in this was really letting go of what the outcome might look like."
This latest creation fits perfectly into Nikolas' general artistic approach, which focuses on reimagining everyday objects in ways that often take an experimental turn.
"My style is 'telling stories'," he explains. "Each of the objects I design tells a story. It can be a story about how a thing was produced, a story about the inspiration of the object, or a story about the material. In my artistic practice, I hope to create things built with simpler materials that last longer and become an integral part of the user's life."
Finally, the Re/CASETiFY Lamp was created by Korean artist Jaehun Oh, who is known for making unique lamps with unexpected materials. Made from 500 recycled cases and reimagined in Oh's distinctive patchwork style, it's a playful, one-of-a-kind piece that can't fail to catch the eye and add a splash of charm to any space.
"In celebration of Earth Day, I envisioned an artwork that resembles a tree, a fundamental symbol of Earth and nature," Jaehun explains. "In a patchwork style, it both expresses the diverse colours of CASETiFY and incorporates a heat map as a comment on climate change."
Jaehun's distinctive artistic approach stems from his passion for tailoring, which led him to study fashion design. He now uses the elaborate techniques he's learned to reinterpret and transform the brand images of discarded clothes and turn them into interior items such as lamps, using bright and lively colours with a clean and neat finish.
His artistic practice has continued to evolve with the planet in mind. "Starting with small pocket bags made of vinyl and paper, I've begun utilising more eco-friendly materials to build interior items," he explains. "I've been experimenting with further variety in materials and the size of the projects."
The biggest challenge he faced when creating the Re/CASETiFY Lamp was the different sizes of the cases. "I had to drill holes by hand on the cases to tie them together with a thread, but this process was quite difficult because the distance between each drilled hole varied so much," he recalls. "The arrangement of the cases, significant for its straight and narrow structure, was controlled by adjusting the tension of the thread. Overall, the project required more time-consuming work than technique."
One thing stood out for Jaehun when he went through all the recycled cases. "There were quite a number of new cases that couldn't be sold because they were used as production tests," he recalls. "For this reason, the active moves that CASETiFY is making to recycle felt especially meaningful. Either by creating art or by recycling them into new cases, their program really stands out."
Bin there, done that
To further celebrate and support Earth Month, CASETiFY has also installed Re/CASETiFY Bins all over Los Angeles. People can deposit and recycle their old phone cases in these special bins and scan the QR code for a future discount online. All phone cases dropped off will be upcycled and used to create new CASETiFY accessories and works of art.
It all fits into a long-running commitment to environmental practices at CASETiFY, which to date has diverted 430,000 user-donated phone and AirPods cases from landfills and turned them into new, sellable products: the equivalent of 40,000kg of plastic. It's also planted over 394,000 trees in partnership with different organisations: enough to offset 19 million pounds of carbon each year, the equivalent of keeping 250 cars off American roads for 12 months.