Upcycling is an excellent idea, refurbishing things to give them years of further use. Upcycled furniture is an especially good idea, it allows you to escape those chilling words, “some assembly required.” They are words behind the fact that the finished product on the floor of your front room does not correspond with the one on display in the shop.
The process of assembling things has been a problem for people for decades. MFI showrooms had impressive layouts – bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, beautifully finished with MFI furniture. I was always suspicious of how the ideal displays could come out of the flat pack boxes. No matter how hard I tried, the furniture was never near the quality of that in the showroom. Sometimes the cabinet or dresser I made didn’t include all the parts that came in the box; it wasn’t just screws or nails that were left over, sometimes there were pieces of chipboard wood that looked as though they should have had some place in the structure.
The requirement of home assembly sometimes came as a shock. A child’s gift of play supermarket trolley one Christmas caused considerable problems. The box seemed small for a trolley and opening it revealed the elements of a plastic play trolley awaiting assembly by an adult. Hours on Christmas Eve were spent trying to fit the thing together. On Christmas Day, it was set aside. On Boxing Day, defeat was admitted and the trolley was taken to the churchwarden’s house.
“What have you been doing?” he muttered. “You have the frame attached to the basket back to front”.
“Some assembly required” became a reason for not buying things; or only buying them if there is someone else to assemble them.
A colleague once told a story of moving house and buying a desk where assembly was necessary. Calling in a son who was handy in such matters seemed the sensible way of ensuring the job was well done. Halfway through the operation there was a loud snap and an expletive from the son who had put his knee through the top of the desk. The son went out and bought a new desk, which came in one piece, and took away the flat pack parts for firewood.
Apart from storage and transport costs, how is it cheaper to produce something in parts, assemble those parts into an arrangement suitable for packing, and then put the whole thing into boxes? Wouldn’t “No assembly required” be a much stronger selling point? Until such products exist, upcycling offers an escape.