For some, the sight of a school lunch tray might bring memories of rubbery fish sticks, generic ketchup and grape juice with strong notes of cardboard – but for artist and furniture maker Kim Markel, the sight of a school lunch tray means one thing only: tasteful opportunity.

The late-blooming furniture designer, who left a career in environmental and public policy to work at the lauded Polich Tallix fine arts foundry in New York’s Hudson Valley, taught herself the craft of mold making and furniture design through assisting in the fabrication of works from artists ranging from Jeff Koons to Matthew Barney. With a background in environmental policy, it only seemed natural to try her hand at furniture design using found materials.

Says Merkel:

“I’m self-taught through experimenting, breaking, asking, and learning. My work comes from the need to create but the desire to do it in a responsible way.”


Her Glow Chairs, which premiered at the annual Architectural Digest Design Show in New York City last weekend, use plastics sourced from soda bottles, styrofoam, lunch trays, and eyeglasses – materials that were deemed best after a year of scavenging through plastic waste:




To create the chairs, Merkel fills up custom molds with shredded bits of plastic of varying opacities and resin before letting them cure for 48 hours. Once set, the resulting glowing pieces are finished by hand. According to Merkel, the semi-translucent objects have been described as “looking like candy, ice pops, gummy bears, and ice.” We’ll take that over rubbery fish sticks any day.

Check out the Beacon, NY-based designer’s full collection over at


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.