Greensboro artist Adrian Boggs creates art from scraps

By Sarah Beth Costello

February 9, 2010

In a culture dominated by consumerism and influenced by competing companies urging the masses to throw out the old and upgrade to the newest products  sustainability and responsibility often takes a back seat.

Adrian Boggs, founder of Practice Design Build, is working to change current habits and encourage the local community to invest in lasting products. As a designer, artist and furnisher Boggs creates pieces that serve as functional items made from discarded materials and waste. Dumpster- diving and garbage- gathering have become the main sources of inspiration behind Boggs’ work. Boggs’ company designs and constructs interior items for clients, working within their budgets while creating long-lasting products.

“There’s nothing really new about sustainability,” Boggs said. “It’s becoming more common, but there are many

Photo submitted.

different ways to make things sustainable.”

Practice Design Build is one of the first custom sustainable furnishing companies in the Triad. Working with materials that would normally go to waste is one of Boggs’ trademarks. Boggs’ creates furnishings from leftover scraps, wheat board (a material made from the chaff seed hulls and stems of leftover wheat) and even reclaimed waste streams, an industrial term for a stream of garbage left over in manufacturing processes.

“When Practice Design Build provides sustainable furnishings to clients, we’re replacing demand on typical industry with goods that are sustainable,” Boggs, 38, said. “Practice is a small company and I like working here, helping the local economy.”

Though sustainable products are often more expensive, Boggs said costs will begin to lower as the demand for better-made products increases. Searching for less expensive materials also enables Boggs to decrease the costs of his items. Though this often requires research, visits to various hardware stores and even occasional dives into dumpsters, producing affordable and well-made products is important to the integrity of Boggs’ work.

“When I use waste materials I’m keeping waste out of landfills in Alamance County,” Boggs said. “I think that the work I’m doing sets a precedent and helps people understand, be creative and find uses for what we’ve been calling garbage.”

Boggs said creating furnishings out of garbage and scraps requires a level of creativity that gives every furnishing a level of uniqueness.  Whether crafting a chair, bench or coffee table, Boggs wants to encourage interactivity between the user and the product.

As a graduate student at  UNC Greensboro, Boggs interned at a furniture company in High Point. He noticed the company was throwing away small pieces and scraps that were useless in the manufacturing process and asked to take them home where he began experimenting.

“One of pieces was a ‘proof of concept,'” Boggs said. “The other one was my master’s thesis work. These were strong examples of what can be done with garbage and wood waste.”

These two pieces are currently exhibited at the Center for Visual Artists gallery in the Greensboro Cultural Center until Feb. 19. Boggs’ exhibited pieces include a table and bench constructed out of Baltic birch plywood.

Boggs returned to school later in life and was the oldest student in the program. But his experience as an industrial fabricator, woodworking and construction contributed to his success while at UNC G. Now an adjunct professor of advanced materialism methods at the campus, Boggs continues to infuse students with his love for design and construction while encouraging them to pursue more sustainable options.

Boggs argues living sustainably will not eliminate overflowing landfills, garbage streams, pollutions and excessive waste. The answer, he said, is in personal responsibility.

“We have landfills overflowing with good materials that get thrown away,” Boggs said. “I think it’s a trap. We have a responsibility to ourselves to be honest with what we use to identify ourselves.”

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