When a table has a story to tell…

Filed in Blog by on October 6, 2011 12 Comments
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The 'Milo' made from wood that would otherwise end in landfill

The 'Milo' made from wood that would otherwise end in landfill

As you may be aware, the construction industry produces the largest amount of waste per year in weight than any other sector.

One Eco fitted furniture pioneer is trying to address this waste.

Tristan Titeux has been designing and building fitted furniture since 2003. With his team of 5 they make innovative use of natural materials in their furniture such as straw and plastic made from CD’s and DVD’s. Now they are using waste wood and offcuts that would otherwise end up in landfill to create a range of modern furniture called ‘Re-Cut’.

Recently Tristan launched the ‘Milo‘,  his first table from the Re-Cut collection and he invited me to take a look.

Tristan tells me that around 420,000 tonnes of waste wood is produced by households each year. Wood that could be ground up, made into chipboard and used to make other items.

Wood for the Milo table comes off cuts from the wood he uses to make his fitted furniture as well as waste that comes from old cupboards he has taken out of customers houses that are no longer needed. I think if he had a magic wand, Tristan’s wish would be to encourage and inspire people to use more natural materials in their homes and for the industry to produce them.

‘Milo’ is a contemporary ‘eco’ coffee or bedside table, oiled with natural eco oil. As you’ll see from the photo, the shapes, colours, patterns and textures are a sight to behold. Each table is unique, using whatever materials are to hand.

But it doesn’t stop there. Sometimes I wonder if we look at something that is upcycled from old materials and think “That’s nice” or “What a great idea!” before moving on. Tristan asks us to stop for a moment and think. He is clearly passionate about his work and is eager to point out that that Milo and the Re-Cut series is about much more than beautiful and practical design. The series has a story to tell, an education to give us, a vision for a more sustainable future:

The Re-Cut series is about

  • Cutting down waste and saving trees
  • Prolonging the life of materials to make them more sustainable
  • Avoiding incineration which creates toxic smoke and ash
  • Stopping rain forest destruction and the illegal logging of irreplaceable trees
  • Safeguarding forests that hold the key to our future medicine chests
  • Dealing with the injustice that comes from (or leads to) world pollution, greed and non sustainable practices
  • Questioning the Western belief that we can rape and pillage the earth to satisfy our immediate desires whilst ignoring the needs of future generations

The Milo table takes me back to my childhood. Every year on our annual summer holiday I would excitedly take my pocket money to a souvenir shop. There I would buy a small glass bottle filled with layers of different coloured sand. They looked just like the top of these tables and I used to hold them in my hand up to the light, fascinated at how nature could produce such art. Each grain of sand had a story to tell, came from a different beach, crushed down from a different rock, washed by a different wave. Likewise, each Milo table is steeped in its own history – the wood has come from a different tree, lived in a persons home as a cupboard, a wardrobe, a favourite sideboard…

While the top and sides of the Milo table are smooth and oiled, any knocks or scratches in the wood are left on the underside. I love that.

On our soft wooden floors at Zero Waste Towers we have many dents and scratches. Mr Green has been itching to sand them down and oil them but I’ve pointed out that each dent and scratch adds to the history of that floor. They are the legends etched in our home and they help create the difference between a house and home…

  • There are scratches where a friend’s dog; who was used to carpet; slid around on the floor with his claws out, like it was an ice rink.
  • Dents where a friend waltzed in before we could ask her to take her stiletto shoes off.
  • A slight curling at the end of one floorboard where Little Miss Green spilled some water and it was left, unnoticed.
  • A long scratch from where I carelessly moved an old chair belonging to my Grandmother.

These ‘flaws’ are in fact gifts, reminders that LIFE is taking place each and every moment. They are a living, breathing history book. Our home is not a show home, it’s a place where memories are made.

So if you’ve had enough of lifeless flatpack furniture, check out Tristan’s work and keep an eye out for the next upcycled piece in his ‘Re-Cut’ collection. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one!

Tristan Titeux looking rather proud of his upcycled Milo Table

Tristan Titeux looking rather proud of his upcycled Milo Table

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. Tracey says:

    Thank you for linking this – I love it!

    I look forward to seeing the ones he has for sale in the future (though less looking forward to the prices!)

    I worry about the water-proof-ness of it (having open chip-board on the top – even with the oil), but I’m sure it’d be fine… If not, I imagine that a sheet of glass over the top (another by-product of various industries!) could be implemented… Though, maybe I’m just paranoid because I drink so much tea – usually with a cat trying to head-butt the cup out of my hand! 😛

  2. @Tracey: Hello Tracey, thank you for your kind comments, I am glad you love it. What is do I do for Love, it is expensive because it is made in the UK, in London and I have to pay my colleagues to make them, they have families, mortgages in London too, my business is not cheap to run either, I have a family too, Milo being the last of my 3 boys, but I always want to work and please people who want to work with us. Satisfaction is what drives me forward, and I get satisfaction from pleasing others, if you contact me via my website we can talk about it if you are interested.

    On a technical note, I didn’t want to put too much oil on them and make them matt, but we have filled a lot of the holes on top and oiled a lot, and can oil and fill more especially for you, you would be surprised how smooth they are.

    The glass is a good idea, I thought of that, and would love to put a sheet of movable and cleanable recycled glass on it as an option.

    Thank you again for your encouragement, I really appreciate it.

  3. Hello Mrs Green,

    You are amazing with words and understanding, you have put this together better than I could! You have just got it perfectly and that makes me so pleased, it is great that you have got the fact that I want people to see through the physical piece and to think about what they have, not to take things for granted, to think about the trees, the forests, the people involved, the processes, the good and bad impacts of all the materials we use in our homes, in our furnishings, in our furniture.

    We only have one world and we are loosing it faster than most of us think. I believe we can still do something about it and that most of us on this earth actually care or would care if they realised the actual state of everything.

    We are blindfolded and not told the truth about what is really going on in the world, though with social media more of us are able to see things that traditional media wanted to hide from us. We are in a special time in history where we the people have the power to change things.

    Everyday we vote with our money, we can choose to make a positive difference with it or use it for something that contributes to the destruction of our world, cultures, traditions and natural world.

    We are part of the natural world and if we don’t look after it, we will be victim to our own actions.

    I hope that doesn’t sound too grim! Don’t worry there are many many people doing great stuff in the world today, I am forever amazed to discover this, we are really good and want good for everyone, we just don’t always realise what bad we are doing.

    Thank you for helping Mrs Green! You are part of the solution.


  4. S.Adams says:

    That idea is facinating, I never really looked at it that way. Usually I just burn extra wood, but never thought of using the wood to make something else.

  5. @S.Adams: Thank you, I am delighted to have prompted this reply from you. If you are burning non treated wood such as pine, not mdf, ply or any man made board or outdoor preserved pine, and you are doing so to heat yourself or your home then that is great.

    But if you rae burning it just to get rid of it, then that isn’t great and especially if you burn any of the man made boards which are highly toxic and polluting both to the air and ground with the ash.

    I find it incredibly satisfying to make use of waste, I have always felt guilty when throwing anything away. I love anything that is green and sustainable, such as wood, bamboo and other virgin materials, but I find using waste and by products such as straw, sunflower husks, reclaimed wood just exiting!

    Thank you for your support. If I can do anything to help, let me know.

  6. Jane says:

    Your table is beautiful.

    I have also heard of a woodworking company in Chiswick which is now heating their workshop using wood shavings and so has reduced costs and waste.

  7. Tracey says:

    @Tristan Titeux: Do you know how much you’re hoping to sell these for?

  8. @Jane: Thank you Jane!! Yes Heating the workshop with chips makes sense as long as you are not burning man made boards such as mdf, ply. Because burning those glues that make up the mdf will not be good.

  9. @Tracey: Hi Tracey, I am selling them at £475 inc vat. They are not cheap to make. :o)

    Why do you ask Tracey? Do you know someone who wants one?

  10. Tracey says:

    @Tristan Titeux: Sorry – for some reason I’d not noticed you’d replied on here…

    I wish I did know someone who wanted one – then I’d have to constantly invite myself around for tea just to see it! 🙂

    To be honest, when I’d asked, I’d been thinking for a coffee/games table (sit on the floor around it on cushions) for the living room – and the games table would need a flat top for boards/cards to sit flat on and not catch (hence I thought about glass on top) 😉

    But since I asked, unfortunately I’ve been told I’m getting made redundant, so new things will be on-hold for a while…

    Ho hum – on to new and exciting things! I’m still trying to work out what Barbara and Tom in The Good Life used to do to be able to pay the mortgage and council tax, etc.,! Self-sufficient is amazing and I dream of doing it pretty-much full time one day (ie. once we own the roof over our head), but until then, pennies need to come in to go back out again!

  11. Hello @Tracey, thank you for your very kind message. Don’t worry, I don’t expect a reply. Then I am not disappointed! :o)

    You will come across someone one day who will want one so I live in hope! :o)

    I have made a lower coffee table as a test, but not sure of the dimensions yet, it is a lower longer version of Milo, you will see it around soon, there is a picture of me in the middle of the tables. It would be perfect.

    Sorry that you have been made redundant, but as you already know there is a Milo table waiting for you when you can pick it up.

    Maybe one day I can upgrade that offer to a low games table, but I am not promising! :o)

    I wanted to live a self sufficient life too in France, but I can’t look after things that grow, I am a big plans and ideas person, not so good at nurturing things, I don’t have the patience, I love perennials!

    One day I will build my strawbale house and have a nice Permaculture garden and some animals.

  12. Here is the picture of Tristan Titeux and the Milo tables and one test low coffee table. This one has stainless steel ends, I love it. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=304201876256888&set=pu.114765891867155&type=1&theater

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