Throw-Away Culture & The Wassily Chair


Before and after: A Wassily Chair

LEFT: The Wassily Chair before   |   RIGHT: The Wassily Chair after

Make it new again

We’ve all heard it before: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It can sometimes feel like a lost sentiment in this world of disposable everything. Broken chair? Weathered and worn couch? Throw pillows out of style? Toss ‘em out. Buy something new.

Not only is throw-away culture harming the environment, but it doesn’t make financial sense. Why spend your money on something you’ll end up buying over and over again? Quality pieces can almost always be repaired or revamped to maintain their beauty, and at a smaller price tag over its lifetime than frequent replacements.

At SML we create designs made from honest materials, with quality craftsmanship that will stand the test of time. It’s our goal to help people make meaningful connections with the pieces they fill their home with, and cherish those goods for a lifetime.

We bring those same values into our own home, repurposing and repairing anything we can. Case in point: The Wassily Chair! Sawyer found this piece discarded on the curb, and grabbed it right away. The frame was in good condition and perfectly salvageable. The vinyl components were cracked and torn throughout, but the simple rectangle pieces looked to be an easy replacement.

Step 1

Inventory pieces. Be sure to label and thoroughly photograph all your pieces so you can remember how to assemble it again later. It’s surprisingly hard to remember where everything goes once it’s disassembled, so I can’t emphasize this step enough.

Step 2

Take it apart. Waste is the worst, so I tried to minimize garbage by reusing the stabilizing material between the vinyl panels. Ever heard of “Moontex?” Me neither. Sounds retro.

Step 3

Measure and make templates. After you inventory your parts you can figure out the amount of material you need, then cut your pieces. 

Step 4

Sew! I have an old Pfaff machine that is perfect for upholstery and heavier materials like leather. I assembled the individual components on the machine.


Step 5

Hand sew to the frame. Too bad I couldn't use the machine to sew the pieces on to the frame, because this step was time consuming. Good thing I love hand sewing. I did use the machine to pre-punch holes in the leather to make the hand sewing easier on my fingers. 

Step 6
Admire your work. 

There are lots of things you can do even without training as an upholstery or woodworker. If you don’t feel confident to DIY, or just don’t have the time, there are many talented small businesses that can help. Don't throw that piece out! Give it new life instead.

We're Sara and Sawyer, the faces behind SML. Do you love design? Furniture? How-tos? Dog photos? You've come to the right place.


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