The burgeoning trend of trans-shopping is pushing the boundaries of both the way you shop and the way artists create.
Article by Kristy Alpert
Originally started in Frankfurt Germany, as a social experiment to see how different forms of creativity arise from different means of communication. Transshopping has become an underground retail experience that is quietly spreading to every continent.
Here's how it work: first, a shopper brings in an item - a shirt, an heirloom, a photograph, etc. - to an artist, aka a "transformer." the shopper sets their budget, and then, supplementing with other creative materials, the transformer creates something new, completely of their choosing, out of the given item. Beloved T-shirts become sofa covers, vintage perfumes bottles dangle from chandeliers... the only limit for a transformer is their own creativity.
"There are two simple basic rules," explains Ifuz, arts and founder of transshopping.org, "One side cannot tell what to bring, and the other cannot tell what to make out of it. Both influence the process, but no side has complete control. It is a creative way to support local artist, but it's also experimental, ecological and fun."
There are now somewhere between 50 and 100 transformer, around the world, many of whom work with their own trash-to-treasure projects in between works commissioned from shoppers.
"Transshopping is still a new and unknown concept." Ifuz adds, "Do not wait until you stumble over an artist offering it. Take the initiative yourself,"
The adventure is in the unknown, however, so make sure that you choose an artist or designer whose work you enjoy, so that your grandmother's handkerchief comes back toy as one-of-a-kind work of art you're proud to display..
Published July 2016 in American Way Magazine, page 24
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Pictured next to article: Isabel Ott, a pioneer of transshipping, is the owner of Trashroyal de in Berlin, where she regularly creates fresh, functional pieces out of discarded items for her clients. Medusa is a transformed work she crafted from eyeglasses, doll heads and billions of beads.