Designer shreds up old cash to upholster these chairs (Video)

Angela Mathis
© Angela Mathis

Currency is a funny thing. Over the centuries, people have assigned value to different things and exchanged them for goods and services. During Roman times, salt was used, while shells, animal hides and even weapons have been used as a form of currency. We use paper and ink (and now increasingly, digital forms like cryptocurrency), but it doesn't change the fact that in and of itself, these paper notes are just that -- paper.

But there's a lot of that paper floating around, and paper money typically has a short life span of only 18 months, after which it is taken out of circulation and incinerated. Foreseeing an increasingly digital world where more and more paper money may be discarded, London-based designer Angela Mathis proposes turning these old bills into textiles for upholstering furniture, in this project called "Value."

Angela Mathis© Angela Mathis

Mathis explains that:

Money is, in itself, nothing more than a piece of paper or a shiny coin. The economies of the world give currencies form, but their tangibility isn’t necessary for their assigned values. Furthermore digitalization continues to take over the concept of how, and with what, the world buys, sells, and trades.

Angela Mathis© Angela Mathis

Shredded up American, British, EU and Indonesian bills are transformed into a custom textile lining these stools by blending them, adding water and a binder. The mixture is then flattened out and quilted to reinforce it, and cut and sewn to size.

VALUE - A material from banknotes from Angela Mathis on Vimeo.

Angela Mathis© Angela Mathis

Angela Mathis© Angela Mathis

It's a clever, borderline subversive concept, considering how much our society revolves around and worships it like a "cult of money." This simple set of stools shows us a simple fact: that in the end, it's just paper and ink. And to paraphrase Alanis Obomsawin, if we can't agree on that fact, we're headed for a rude surprise when cut down the last tree and pollute the last river, and we finally realize we can't eat or drink money. More over at Angela Mathis.

Related Content on