art from junk is a Singapore-based studio creating colourful artwork from recycled and vintage furniture. In their studio in the Bukit Merah area they set about transforming secondhand or vintage furniture into gorgeous, colourful statement pieces. Each piece of vintage furniture is hand-painted with a unique design created specifically for the piece, and is one-of-a-kind. Retro patterns, old-school motifs and other vintage designs which have their origin in the vibrant traditions of Singapore and South-east Asia are the inspiration for their furniture designs. Intricate detailing and bright colours are hallmarks of the company's design, as is high-quality craftsmanship and finish. Take a look at some of their work below, and be inspired by just what can be achieved when 'junk' is turned into art!
When art from junk's Jing Yi Woon found a side-table with a concave top in a second-hand store, she was immediately inspired to create a table modelled on a Chinese-style porcelain bowl design. Classically, this design is in two layers – a circle in the centre with a dragon and wave patterns, and an outer ring with four dragons and cloud patterns. On her (wonderful) blog, she refers to these as the sea-dragon design and the four-dragon design. We can see the result here, in the astonishingly intricate wave design in the centre, with the rim made up of four dragons flying through the clouds. Woon departed a little from the basic design by adding another layer—of flowers on the inner rim. It's hard to believe that this piece started life as a basic wooden side table, so effectively has she transformed it into a beautiful 'porcelain' bowl.
This yellow and green side table has been hand-painted with a design inspired by the longevity symbols used in traditional Chinese pottery. Longevity is a very popular theme in Chinese tradition, and it's represented in this piece by both the “寿” symbol in the centre as well as the peaches around the edge. The personification of “寿” is an old man carrying a giant peach; hence the peaches. Every single element of this table's intricate design was painted by hand, and its striking yellow colour—known as famille jaune when used in Chinese pottery—is simply beautiful.
Once common in Singapore, this chair embodies the classic kopitiam chair—with its spindle back and curved legs. and all. When she found this chair, Woon decided she wanted to create a “Wan Shou Wu Jiang” plate design on the seat. Wan Shou Wu Jiang is a porcelain design style which encompasses all porcelains and patterns which have 4 equally spaced circles and which contain, in sequence, the Chinese characters ‘Wan’ 萬, Shou’ 壽, ‘Wu’ 無 and ‘Jiang’ 疆— or 万寿无疆. ‘Wan Shou Wu Jiang’ translates as boundless longevity or everlasting long life, where Wan = 10,000, Shou = long life and Wu Jiang = without boundary. Woon substituted But as you probably know, any remotely lucky sounding four-character phrase can, and is often, substituted.) I substituted “Wan Shi Ru Yi” (
May all your wishes be fulfilled) for the four-character phrase, because, she says, it was more appealing to her than longevity.
The artwork on this chair was inspired by the all-over tattoo designs common in the Japanese Yakuza - hence the chair's name. Popular designs amongst the Yakuza include dragons, koi, geishas and samurai, so Woon decided to include at least a few of these in the artwork. The skull, while not really common in Japanese tattoos, she chose because it's so characteristic of tattoo designs more generally. The image on chair-back 'wraps around' to imitate a sleeve or full-body tattoo.
Woon chose this table in a second-hand store because of the winged detailing on the legs— they reminded her of ornate handle mouldings on traditional chinaware. The intricate, repeating pattern on the piece was fully handpainted, not stencilled; just as an actual porcelain plate or vase would traditionally have been.