SFMOMA Repurposes Exhibition Waste Through the Scrappy Chair Challenge

Jeremiah Barber, Cnidarian Stool, Medusa Phase, 2023 | Source SFMOMA

On the 1st of May, the San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art SFMOMA announced a competition to challenge artists, designers and makers to design a chair using scrap material from past exhibitions – The Scrappy Chair Challenge.  

The museum offered a $100 stipend along with scrap materials collected from previous exhibitions, to up to 5 entries. The winners would have their designs displayed in the SFMOMA for 10 days between the 15th and 25th of July.  

The designs would be displayed alongside an existing exhibition, “Conversation pieces”. This exhibition assembled 45 works of contemporary furniture that address concerns about mid-twentieth century mass production by emphasizing craft and handmade elements, as well as sustainability and recycled materials. 

The staff at the museum noticed leftover materials piling up from previous exhibitions, this sparked the conversation about the environmental impact of exhibitions. Claire Bradley, the museum’s manager of learning and public programs, explained, “Our exhibitions team took inventory of everything and then compiled small bundles—enough for five chairs.” 

In the open call for submissions, the museum even provided a list of the exhibitions from which the materials were sourced. For example, it included “Two pieces of 4-by-8-foot plywood from Diego Rivera’s America,” “Six pieces of 24-inch, 2-by-4-foot pine from Tatiana Bilbao Estudio,” and “Two pieces of 12-inch, 4-by-4-foot pine from The Sea Ranch.” 

Contestants had a limited time frame of just one week to design chairs using 75% post-exhibition materials. The entry period lasted from May 1st to May 8th. However, the museum was overwhelmed with the response, as they received a total of 133 entries, showcasing the immense enthusiasm and creativity of the participants. 

The winners were announced on May 10th and were tasked with delivering the chairs to the museum by the 15th of May 

Explore Reclaimed Products on Firstplanit

Use the reclaimed filter on the Firstplanit database to find building products that have been previously used in buildings, temporary works, or other projects (Not recycled or reprocessed in any way).

Share this Article