Series 6. Eco Icon No.14


Toy story recycled lamp by Ryan McElhinney


When is a toy not a toy?….When it’s transformed into the uber one-off  objets by visionary designer Ryan McElhinney.

Ryan McElhinney’s career began as a seven-year-old drawing cartoons for customers at his father’s County Kildare pub. Today, the Irish designer’s portfolio displays the same mix of humour and creativity that lead him from Dublin’s European College of Animation to award-winning product and interior design, via stints at Disney and 20th Century Fox.

Working as an animator at the Arizona-based Fox, a chance reading of the first issue of Wallpaper magazine set him on a different path. “Contemporary design was like a breath of fresh air”, explains McElhinney, whose workstation was soon surrounded by style magazines and sketches of cartoon-like sofas and chairs. A career as a product designer blossomed, along with a love of local thrift and house clearance stores. Trawling for materials quickly became an obsession, with Mc Elhinney’s limited budget, natural eye and vivid imagination ensuring he spotted the perfect finds to bring to life his early designs. Full of expression and movement, dollar-a-bag sacks of second-hand plastic toys became the designer’s chosen medium. Telling a story with each manipulation, Mc Elhinney meticulously gloss-painted and fused together each figure in a six week process, creating the first in his series of ‘Toy’ frames and lamp bases.

Each sculpture is one of a kind and hand ceafted at my London Studio. Made of recycled Toys which are bonded toghther and then coated in a High Gloss polyurethane laquer.

Endlessly inventive, designs range from the Knot sofa, winner of the Peugeot Design Awards and finalist in both the BIDA and FX awards, to the Swarowski crystal-encrusted ‘groom and groom’ figures rumored to have topped Elton and David’s wedding cake. Today, recycling is more current than ever and remains at the heart of McElhinney’s work. Fusing old and new, he metamorphoses found objects to covetable sculptural one-offs.. A world away from the dated image of how recycled should look, his avant garde urban projects and hand-made one-of-a-kind sculptures have enjoyed the attention of design aficionados from Philippe Starck to Kanye West, who recently enthused about the designer’s subversively glamorous gold-painted Toy Lamps.

Definitely creating a ‘Buzz’ ….and lighting up ‘Finding Eco”s life…..

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