It’s often said that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. For Sydney-based designer and maker Marlo Lyda this guides her creative practice every day.

“I used to go to scrap yards as a 17-year-old and just play and tinker with little rusty objects,” she tells Broadsheet. “I remember sitting on the floor and there were hundreds of these cogs that I just placed into two-dimensional patterns.”

Since graduating from the Netherlands’ prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven in 2021, Lyda has found a way to articulate her attraction to waste matter, elevating it to functional art. “It’s a contemporary treasure hunt for material and it gives you such a sense of joy when you forage, seek out and put energy into finding and recovering materials rather than just purchasing new ones,” she says.

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This creative process shines through in her Remnants collection, a series of coffee and side tables made from pieces of marble and stone found in the skip bin of a Sydney supplier – too small or “imperfect” for common use. Lyda gives the irregularly shaped stones (often from countries like Brazil, India and Iran) a new life atop scaffold-like steel frames bound together by copper wires. She has stock on hand but also accepts commissions for custom Remnants pieces – like longer coffee tables and console units.

In a similar vein, Lyda’s Shifting Mirrors series came to be when she noticed people were disposing of wooden furniture during lockdowns. Collecting the unwanted wooden objects – including several types of frames and chairs – she began experimenting with binding her finds with steel coils to create distorted shapes before burning the timber out. “There’s nothing quite like setting your work on fire, I have to say,” she laughs. “It’s one of the most thrilling things.”

Lyda says her experimental practice is about “respecting … that irregularities and imperfections are an essential part of all the materials [I work] with”. And when asked what inspires her, she says, “The materials themselves are almost enough … because there’s so much language embedded in them”.

The young designer was awarded the NSW Design (Early Career) Fellowship in 2023, which gives her a place as a design resident at the Powerhouse Museum and full access to its workshop and studio spaces. “It’s so liberating … [having] a fully kitted-out workshop only comes around once or twice a lifetime,” she says.

Her newest collection will be exhibited in May at Melbourne Design Week as part of Matters, an exhibition curated by Lyda and Melbourne-based artist Jordan Fleming. There’ll be a series of floor lamps, side tables and a bed, all giving “waste” new value and a new home.
@ marlo__lyda

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