Melanie Abrantes turns material scraps into Modern California homeware collection

Designer Melanie Abrantes has used cork and wood leftover from her old projects to create sculptural vases, canisters and baskets influenced by the colours, forms and textures of California’s coast.

Modern California Collection by Melanie Abrantes
Melanie Abrantes used a mixture of scrap materials to create the Modern California series

The Oakland designer’s Modern California series comprises canisters, vases , candle holders and wine coolers “inspired by colours and forms from the California Coast”.

Abrantes sourced glass from either local artists or second-hand shops, and used scrap cork and wood from her previous projects.

Modern California Collection by Melanie Abrantes
The Marais vases feature a tall glass body. Recycled cork and wood fit inside the glass container to form the neck and lip

Among the designs are the Marais vases, which feature a tall glass body produced by San Francisco glassmaker Jason Stropko Glass. Abrantes used machinery to blend her old cork and wood to fit inside the glass container, forming the neck and lip.

“In every Marais vase, the materials – coloured glass, cork and hardwood – combine to create an object that is both art sculpture and functional,” Abrantes said.

Modern California Collection by Melanie Abrantes
The wine coolers comprise a cork base finished with a strip of wood

“The cork and wood are laminated together and sculpted on a woodturning lathe to fit each individual glass vessel.”

Abrantes’ Hardwood Candle Holders are among several of the pieces in the collection that require the use of the lathe machinery to define their shape.

Other large jars in the collection include the Maple Bud. Abrantes hand-dyed the wooden vases to create a marbled design influenced by the pattern found on the blossoms of maple trees.

A different mix of pink and purple hues decorate the Maple Bud, which comes in a variety of sizes and widths.

Modern California Collection by Melanie Abrantes
Mismatched cork top and bottoms and round wooden handle make up the Bolo canisters

Also in the series is the Bolo –  a small rounded canister that consists of two mismatched pieces of cork that detach allowing for storage inside. Each capsule is topped with a wooden ball used for opening the item.

Modern California Collection by Melanie Abrantes
The designer created a handle from rope and leather for this small basket

“Bolo explores the playful silhouette and shapes of a Bolo, the Portuguese translation for cake,” the artist said. “Each ‘Bolo’ canister is perfectly balanced to highlight its unique materials.”

In the collection, cork is also used to form baskets and wine coolers. The round basket has a flat bottom and two rope handles that are joined together with leather to form a single handle, allowing for the piece to be easily transported.

Modern California Collection by Melanie Abrantes
Abrantes used a woodturning machine to create these cylindrical candle holders

The wine coolers feature a cork base and are topped with a strip of wood that circles the object, which can be used to elegantly store beverage bottles.

Modern California is available for sale on Abrantes’ website for a limited time and will also be featured at this year’s London Design Fair, which runs from 19 to 22 September.

Modern California Collection by Melanie Abrantes
The Maple Bud vases are hand-dyed to mirror the marble pattern found on the blossoms of maple trees

Abrantes joins a number of designers that are experimenting with making the most of scrap materials, such as Madrid designer Jorge Penadés who turned recycled aluminium from old lamps into new jars.

The Scrap Life Project by a group of German designers, meanwhile, created stool seats from oddly shaped pieces of recycled plastic produced at an injection-moulding factory.

Photography is by Melanie Riccardi.

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