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May 18, 2017, 07:32 AM

Beyond reclaimed, is NewspaperWood in a class of its own?

By Michael Morel

NewspaperWood planks NewspaperWood

Noord-Brabant, Holland - Reclaimed bricks are usually reused as bricks, but many reclaimed materials transcend their original purpose. A jar becomes a candleholder. A bicycle wheel moonlights as a chandelier. A shipping container newly identifies as a house.

But one bizarre material follows a path beyond reclamation into a different realm I struggle to define. The aptly named substance known as NewspaperWood takes wood in a circular journey into paper and back to wood form again.

Designed by Dutch designer Mieke Meijer, NewspaperWood looks like what you would expect if newspapers were magically transformed into wood by a wizard. Up close, the grayish planks have subtle, rainbow striping that looks both like tree rings and compressed piles of the Sunday edition. Though not technically wood, the compact layers of paper and adhesive look and feel like lumber.

The terms "reclaimed" or "recycled" do not encompass NewspaperWood. Recycled paper is formed into new paper, not wood. Recycled metal is melted down but ultimately becomes new solid metal again. The same process goes for glass.

Instead I propose using the term "reverted" as a more accurate label for NewspaperWood's triple phasic lifecycle. I have been unable to find or even conceive of a similarly "reverted" material.

Perhaps that is because NewspaperWood is not actually wood and therefore has not truly reverted to its original form. It merely closely mimics the form and appearance of wood.

But it is not that simple. NewspaperWood is different from particleboard which never has a functional existence as anything other than a building material. It also only goes through two steps in life: from woodchips or sawdust immediately back into a different form of solid wood. NewspaperWood instead goes through three distinct identities and functions.

Even if we concede that NewspaperWood is not truly wood, it may still be in a class of its own. It could be the only substance that attempts to aesthetically imitate its original form. This would be different from a paper mache sculpture of a tree because no matter how good the sculpture, it could not be mistaken for wood. NewspaperWood easily could.

In spirit with this mysterious substance I will go full circle by returning to the title. Is NewspaperWood in a class of its own?

Responses welcome!

NewspaperWood website

Story Type:  News

ID: 100324

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