Recycled and Re-invented: 'Re Hecho' remodels Santiago’s scrap

At the supermarket, you wrestle your individually wrapped, double-bagged groceries into your backpack and take in the sight of Santiago’s halo of smog above on your way home. As you bravely bike through jeep-crammed roads near the rubbish-clad Rio Mapocho, whiffs of car fumes—no breaths of fresh air here—leave you realizing that “going green” doesn’t seem to be a top concern in this town.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Consuelo Mujica

But 21 young Chilean artists are acknowledging the environment through the exhibition Re Hecho en Chile: Diseños para el Medioambiente (Re-done in Chile: Designs for the Environment), which runs until October 31 at La Moneda’s Cultural Center. By transforming 21st century waste into carefully crafted, aesthetic pieces ranging from home furniture to catwalk creations, they aim to boost awareness of modern environmental issues and point to the urgency of forming solutions to save the environment.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Consuelo Mujica

The first part of the exhibition reveals 21st century technology’s discarded, dangerous and nonbiodegradable mess of computers, telephones and wires cables in their lifeless, useless forms. In the next display the designers showcase the many uses of e-waste.

The artists’ fashion sense is not all too trashy with articles of new and improved recycled gear, such as beautiful boots made of old plastic bags or computer chip-encrusted pieces sure to give any diamond a run for its money. Equally exquisite are works proving that beauty really does come from within: woven bags and purses made from X-ray photographs. The most ingenious of all are shoes with salmon skin soles and a bag to match to go all out in fish fashion.

In the home décor section sit a recycled wooden table and chairs that look as though they’d been swept right off the beach. Chilean wines can be stored at home in the very barrels they were once made in, cleverly re-constructed to hang from the wall as a functional statement piece.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Consuelo Mujica

Swings made entirely from bottle caps and wire might even motivate kids to start collecting for their own climbing frame apparatuses at home.

The exhibition takes objects that were once useful and puts them into a new context. The artists have found new value in tossed-out trash, especially from throw-aways that can take thousands of years to biodegrade.

Though the items are not for sale, you can take inspiration from Re Hecho the next time you’re tempted to throw away your rubbish. Dare to turn the odd carton, magazine or unwanted item into something reused, recycled and uniquely yours.

Re Hecho en Chile: Disenos para el Medioambiente
Ends October 31, 2010
Free entry
Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda
Galeria del Diseño, 2nd floor
Phone: 2 3556500

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