Design news: Meet the ‘shellmet’ plus Ikea’s new range and women in design

Reinvention and renovation are as important as innovation in design, as this month’s news shows. Vintage fashion giant Beyond Retro has branched out into making new clothing with the Beyond Remade range and we also have a great story about recycling waste from Japan’s shell industry into hard hats. Get ready for the Shellmet…

Reclaimed suede and denim garments created for Beyond Remade’s debut collection. Photography: Beyond Retro

Beyond Retro isn’t just the best place to buy second-hand flannel shirts and band tees. The UK’s best-known vintage seller is also part of an international network of businesses under the control of BVH; one of North America’s largest used goods dealers and operator of the world’s largest commercial remanufacturing plant in India.

Although the business is huge, founder Steve Bethell still knows what true vintage fans want – an instinct that led him to found Beyond Retro in the basement of his London home in the 1990s. launch is Beyond Remade. It is a clothing collection of new models made from recycled fabrics. Made from salvaged denims and suede from garments otherwise destined for landfill. This first collection is full of clothing inspired by British and Swedish fashion. Patchwork jackets, bags and overalls have the timeless spirit of wardrobe classics. The suede jacket is part Swedish military, part 70s trucker, but each comes with a unique silk scarf lining. The Denim Worker dungarees are a nod to vintage design from the 60s.

The Beyond Remade range allows Beyond Retro to upcycle and upcycle. It’s a move towards a circular market, and the company sees it as a solution to deal with the overwhelming amount of “stuff” we all consume.

The collection is available now on

VARMBLIXT orange LED table/wall lamp, £55, design Sabine Marcelis Photography: Ikea

New Zealand designer Sabine Marcelis may be more accustomed to seeing her award-winning sculptural glass design and fixtures on display in galleries and pavilions, but this month they will be available to purchase alongside BILLY shelves . Marcelis is the latest designer to collaborate with Swedish homeware company Ikea to bring designer furniture to the mainstream. Marcelis has created VARMBLIXT, a collection of 19 products of lighting, rugs, glassware and ornaments.

“I wanted to take an unexpected approach to how lighting works in the house,” says Marcelis. “I wanted to inspire people to consider new shapes and elements that showcase different types of interior spaces in bold and artistic ways.”

The collection features one of Marcelis’ signature motifs: the infinity beignet. Before your stomach starts rumbling, know that Marcelis donuts are luminaries. For Ikea, she designed a LED table/wall lamp in rounded orange glass.

“As light passes through the glass, it makes the soft donut-like shape shine with a warm glow,” she says. “It is a magical spectacle that attracts attention.”

The limited-edition VARMBLIXT collection will be available in-store and online from February 2023


Recognized women artists

Lucia DeRespinis for George Nelson Associates, Spindle clock, 1957-1958, produced by the Howard Miller Clock Company
Lucia DeRespinis for George Nelson Associates, Spindle clock, 1957-1958, produced by the Howard Miller Clock Company. Photography: Denis Farley/MMFA

The one good thing about the fact that female artists and designers have been largely absent from the history of the creative arts until recently is that we can now enjoy a bumper crop of exhibitions and books celebrating which was previously unknown. This month brings Parall(elles): a history of women in design – the first exhibition retracing the history of American and Canadian designers at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition examines why women are underrepresented in the history of design and considers the very definition of design. The exhibition brings together works from the mid-19th century and covers industrial design and consumer products, as well as ceramics, textiles and fashion.

A prototype of the Fancy Free Corvette, designed for General Motors in 1958 by Ruth Glennie – one of the automotive industry’s design ladies, employed to make attractive cars for female drivers, will be on display. Another classic from the 1950s, the Spindle wall clock by industrial designer Lucia DeRespin was designed for George Nelson Associates. DeRespinis is probably most famous for the original Dunkin’ Donuts logo. Other female artists included in the show are Faith Ringgold, Cindy Sherman and Judy Chicago.

“This exhibition reveals that the vital role these North American female designers have played in the history of design has been perpetually downplayed or excluded from the narrative,” says Jennifer Laurent, curator of Parallel(s). “By shedding light on the gendered nature of design practice, we can draw parallels between certain biases and the course of design history.”

Parall(elles): A History of Women in Design, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada, February 18–June 4


Recycle shells as safety helmets

shellmet helmet, a collaboration between TBWA/Hakuhodo and Koushi Chemical industries
Shellmet Helmet, a collaboration between TBWA/Hakuhodo Industries and Koushi Chemical. Photography: Taguchi/TBWA/Hakuhodo

Helmets are rarely described as pretty, but it’s hard to find another word for the Shellmet. This stylish yet sturdy hard hat is designed as a tribute to the recycled scallops used in its manufacture and comes in a range of pastel colours. As a new use for seashells destined for landfill, it’s a great idea as well as a great product.

Shellmet is the work of Japanese design agency TBWAHakuhodo, a solution to waste from the seafood industry on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. About 40,000 tonnes of discarded scallops are generated there each year. TBWAHakuhodo collaborated with Koushi Chemical Industry to create a new material called Shellstic, which is made from 50% scallops mixed with an environmentally friendly plastic. The biomorphic design isn’t just a cute touch, the hat’s shell-like ribs make it up to 30% stronger than if the helmet had a smooth surface.

The Shellmet will launch at the end of March (priced around £30), by which time it is expected to be certified as a hard hat.

“The shells that protected themselves from external enemies are now reborn to protect human lives,” says TBWAHakuhodo Creative Director Masatoshi Usami.


Taschen diversifies into art

Set of 5 limited edition Jorge Pardo Brussels lamps created for Taschen books
Set of five limited edition Jorge Pardo lamps created for Taschen books. Photo: Taschen

Taschen is best known as a publisher of large, high-end art books. Its list spans photography, fashion, film, art, architecture and erotica, as well as its “Sumo” range of folio-format collectible editions, which make a strong case for books in as exhibits rather than, say, reading.

Perhaps inspired by its archive of talking point creativity, “the house of beautiful books” has recently expanded into what it calls “non-books” – i. looks cool. Its latest offering is a set of five lamps by Jorge Pardo, the Cuban-American artist and sculptor. The colorful Brussels lamps are made from dozens of laser-cut and hand-painted stacked discs and are inspired by lamps previously made by Pardo for the Taschen boutique in Brussels.

Limited to a series of 100, they are undoubtedly marvels. Although with a price tag of £22,500 per set most of us might be more comfortable with Taschen’s excellent journey through 20th century lighting design, 1000 Lights – just £20 in softcover, and without having to find a place to display it.

The Brussels Lamps by Jorge Pardo are available from February

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