Eco designer Max McMurdo first came to prominence after gaining backing for his business, Reestore, in The Dragons’ Den. Since then, his innovative remade furniture has led to a slot on Kirstie Allsopp’s Fill Your House for Free and a booming business. We chat to him about his recycled ideas for design.
Hi Max! So how did you get into remaking furniture?
Well, I did have a proper job as a car designer once, but I didn’t like their consuming, gas-guzzling ways. So, I decided to quit my job, bought an old VW van and collected a load of junk to repurpose!
What’s the appeal?
It’s just great fun. You have to work with the material and its constraints, and working as part of a small team means you get to express yourself creatively.
What was the reaction of people to your initial designs?
When I set up reestore in 2002 my peers thought I had lost the plot! Nobody else was doing it and the word upcycling didn’t even exist!
So you’re a maverick?
I guess so, my designs are deliberately provocative and I don’t like the way design is typically a high-end, pretentious industry exclusively for rich people.
Is recycling finally becoming more mainstream?
Yes, definitely. I think attitudes have completely changed, it’s now desirable to be seen as thrifty and thoughtful. 10 years ago it was shiny and expensive items that people desired.
What’s the maddest thing you’ve made?
I guess the bath tub chairs are pretty bonkers, although they are originally designed to hold a person ergonomically!
What piece do you love the most?
Annie the trolley chair was my first design so I have a soft spot for her
So, where’s your hunting ground for materials?
For individual pieces, I love a good old-fashioned scrap yard. Our more key pieces are now sourced through suppliers.
How did the backing of Dragons Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden benefit your business?
My success in The Dragons Den absolutely changed the business and the way I design. I wouldn’t be where I am without my trusty dragons!
Why are you such a secondhand fan?
It tells a story, has a soul and also helps the planet.
What’s the future for Reestore?
Well, it would appear that the UK has gone upcycling crazy! We are just launching a series of upcycling workshops where people can come and learn the key skills. I am also working on several new TV opportunities which is very exciting.
Feeling Inspired by Max?
There’s loads of bargains and things being given away on Preloved that are ripe for some repurposing, so check out our Freeloved pages for fab freebies, or the cool vintage finds in our Time Machine and get creative!
Or if you’ve got something you want to recycle, put it on Preloved with aNEW ADVERT and find it a new home in your area.