La Réserve des Arts

When industrial waste turns into art

Posted on 04 March 2016.

La Réserve des Arts is an association that collects waste from businesses and sells it to artists and designers.

Of the 74 metric tonnes of waste collected in 2015, 40 have already been reused in works of art.

In the immense La Réserve des Arts warehouse in Pantin, near Paris, coils of wire, opened paint cans and scratched plexiglass joyously overflow into the innumerable alleyways. A veritable treasure trove for artists and designers who go there for supplies that cost three times less than those on the open market.

Here, the trend is for "upcycling". Unlike recycling, which transforms materials, upcycling takes waste and changes its function. A kind of recycling from the top down, an idea that Sylvie Bétard and Jeanne Granger - the two founders, both bitten by the contemporary art and ecology bugs - wanted to honor by creating La Réserve des Arts in 2008. Two observations prompted the initiative. On one hand there are the industries that produce large amounts of waste and do not always know how to deal with it; and on the other hand there are artists seeking new ways of sourcing materials and finding inspiration. Someone just had to come up with the idea of bringing them together!

“La Réserve des Arts attempts to meet artists’ needs for materials, be a place of inspiration, and be a community for exchanging skills."
Sylvie Bétard

The association signed partnerships with various companies in the luxury, DIY and event sectors to recover their waste (from production processes, damaged equipment, unsold items, old stock, etc.). Everything is sorted, valued and made available to artists as cheaply as possible.
This approach responds to the wish of the founders of La Réserve des Arts to combine environmental protection with support for the arts. And very successfully! Of the 74 metric tonnes of waste collected in 2015, 40 have already been reused in works of art.