Pure Gold

‘Pure Gold’ highlighted the ecological damage we inflict with our waste, and explored our emotional responses to transformed trash.

The world is asphyxiating itself with its trash, filling oceans with micro-plastics and choking cities with pollution. ‘Pure Gold’ showcased 30 approaches to creative waste and considered their emotional resonance: how can we give value and new context to waste, turning ecological anger into objects of desire?

In contrast to industrial recycling processes, upcycling methods do not aim for mass production. The focus is more on the artistic redesign of already used materials, with the aim of making high-quality functional and consumer goods. Juli Foos, for example, created a carpet out of doughnut packaging that she collects; Roswitha Berger-Gentsch made delicate amphora-shaped receptacles from supermarket cartons; Waltraud Münzhuber weaved film strips of old favourite films into durable containers; and Tobias Juretzeck used his own discarded clothes as part of a chair.

“The exhibited works show that upcycling is neither an inferior production method, nor an ecological niche project nor a specific ‘postmodern’ strategy, but a global contemporary design concept,” said curator Volker Albus.

Alongside the idea of added value, upcycling also relies on strong emotional connections. “As the materials used are familiar to us, the objects in this exhibition engender a subtle sense of identification,” said Albus. “These objects are part of our urban environment and they are firmly anchored in our everyday lives. This makes their new aesthetic value all the more remarkable. We are astonished and amazed.”

The furniture, carpets, lamps and containers were displayed on plywood boxes which, in line with the theme, were also used to transport the exhibits. In addition to the exhibited works, a screen showed the Pure Gold digital platform. This included interviews with designers, as well as short, entertaining presentations of upcycling methods.

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Photography: Ed Reeve


Administering Body:

Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa)

Design Team:



Volker Albus, Axel Kufus, Lapatsch/Unger (digital curators)

Supporting Bodies:

Federal Foreign Office

2018 Exhibitors