Every object has a story to tell if you listen closely. Objects hold the memories of their origins, makers and context. These traces are one of the reasons I'm obsessed with reuse...
Is it a species? A cut of lumber? A finish? I’m unsure. What I know is it has been salvaged and stored, semi-forgotten, in a bunker for my use. Now that it’s in place I’m not sure how many people even notice it. The view is spectacular after all. Anyway, the wood is textured and weathered and it gives the entry portal a certain gravitas. Those who seek out its origins are rewarded with tales of post-war cocktails in the Redwood Bar...for the opening we make specimens of it.
We stand in the rain contemplating the doors. There was a cloudless blue sky the day we bought them at the salvage yard, but now they are stacked haphazardly along the fence, dripping. Awkward. Like the teenagers that will store their farming tools in the sheds they will become. Individual and full of personality, with stories to tell if anyone asked. They’re dwarfed by the big, urban, public high school looming over them across the football field, but safe surrounded by the little farm they serve.
It is often a challenge to explain the value in reusing something at all, let alone something as plain and ubiquitous as an empty big box store. As Ralph Caplan put it: “The newer products may not perform any better - at least not in ways you need - but they serve a public relations function: to buy the new is to be perceived as new yourself.” But the value in a big box store is not in the materials themselves; it’s in the semiotics of the thing. In the ability, to build on the familiar to create the new. To work the system from the inside out.