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Designer Gyuhan Lee upcycles McDonald’s bags into lamps

These nongreasy upcycled lamps were made from McDonald’s paper bags by Gyuhan Lee. They’re a fun example of how packaging and waste can be repurposed to become useful decoration.

Fancy yourself a midnight snack? Craving the golden arches of fast food convenience? Single-use packaging could be worth more than you think, even after it’s been used to store burgers and fries.

Korean designer Gyuhan Lee is known for his sculptures and projects created using recycled everyday objects. He transformed Nike boxes into furniture as part of a series in 2020, reinterpreting well-known brands into functional products. Now, Lee has returned, unveiling new McDonald’s lamp sculptures made from takeaway bags.

 

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Titled Tokyo Edition: McDonald’s Paper Bag Lamp 12-1 2022 and Tokyo Edition: McDonald’s Paper Bag Lamp 12-2 2022, these two pieces use regular packaging from a McDonald’s at Narita International Airport in Tokyo.

The lamp embraces established fast food logos and branding, wrapping the design around a metal, skeletal frame in a repetitive but deliberate form. The result is elegant, smooth, and refined, re-contextualising our associations with typical burger packaging.

While this work isn’t a direct commentary on food waste, associations with our reliance on plastics, papers, and single-use products is obvious. We tend to view bags and paper as throwaway objects, confined to a singular purpose before being worthless. Of course, we can’t regularly use McDonald’s bags after being wrapped in foods on a day-to-day basis, but Lee’s sculptures are a reminder of the importance of repurposing and upcycling.

 

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A post shared by Gyuhan 이규한 (@gyuhan_lee)

Speaking to designbloom, Lee said that a major inspiration for the lamps was the worldwide surge in take-outs and deliveries during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

‘During the lockdown period, I noticed how often I would order food to be delivered to my studio, especially McDonald’s.’

Lee also stated that he wanted to showcase the interaction between manufacturing and the art of craftsmanship. He did this by utilising his skills in furniture design alongside the iconic McDonald’s branding.

 

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The rise in takeaways during lockdown has been a cause for environmental concern, further enforcing climate change messaging within Lee’s sculptures. In the UK, for example, delivery orders rose by 317% in February 2021 compared to twelve months prior. Keep in mind that takeaway food and drink litter dominates ocean plastics. Our appetite for convenience food is a huge climate crisis issue.

Lee’s work is a fun, creative example of reinvention, but is an equal reminder of how much we rely on unsustainable methods of packaging and consumption.

 

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