Man and machine = some very novel upcycled furniture

Man and machine = some very novel upcycled furniture

For the passionate enthusiast, there's no such thing as a helicopter or a motorcycle graveyard. There's simply resurrection in a new form.

By Abby Trow
Aircraft aluminium used to make stools by Germany's Aero-46

Do you dread Christmas, wondering what to buy for that relative who's mad about vintage helicopters? Well, fret no longer because Germany's Aero-1946 has beautifully engineered Aviation stools made from the aluminium bodywork of de-commissioned helicopters. Meanwhile UK designer and motorbike lover Greg Drzymalski has designed a delightful range of upcycled lamps made from motorcycle parts.

The joy of niche is finding those fellow travellers you never knew existed. Make some stools from helicopter aluminium and while many women wouldn't give them the time of day, and a lot of men would say 'my wife would kill me if I brought that home', the aviation enthusiast sees an object of beauty and interest.

Rolf Bauche and Reinhard Cramer are two German aviation enthusiasts with engineering skills who have launched Aero-1946, a... well they don't want to call it a business..a workshop that makes furniture from helicopters that have come to the end of their flying life; and Greg Drzymalski has launched a business, supported by The Princes Trust, which transforms used motorcycle parts into table lamps.

At Aero-1946, the designers like aluminium, they love solid riveting, they like vintage design and are dedicated to recycling. They believe the industrial techniques developed during the Second World War should be continued and think aircraft engineering is highly relevant to furniture design and manufacture.


Helicopter stools with the original paint markings left on.
The stools have a Dalek-like quality which Dr Who fans won't have missed
Motorbike spare parts become lamp stands in Greg Drzymalski's hands
A perfect lamp for a motorcyclist. Prices from £70 to £120. Buy Greg's lights on
The hand-made stools sell for between £250 and £425.
The stools are all made using solid, not blind rivets.

Their three-legged Aviation stools are lightweight and the solid rivets which hold the pieces of aluminium together are a clear reference to aircraft bodies, which have thousands of solid rivets.

Some of the metal sheets they come across have the helicopter's original paint and numbers on them, which give the stools a vintage look and suggest there's a story to tell.

Bauche says he and Cramer, a dental laboratory technician, started making the stools in their garages a few years ago 'as a Saturday project, because we were interested in design, recycling and in applying aviation technology to it.'

Once word got out about their stools, so the odd helicopter nut (ho ho) and engineering enthusiast started to get in touch and put in the occasional order, and Aero-1946 are happy to make to order now they have perfected their own in-garage manufacturing processes. 


Rolf Bauche, a technology historian,
Reinhard Cramer, a dental laboratory technician with impressive engineering skills

And in case you're wondering why 1946, Bauche explains this is the year when when aviation companies started to design and develop products for the civilian and commercial markets, rather than for the war effort.

They sell the stools for between £245 and £425, which given the hours it takes to make each one, is excellent value for a piece of furniture that will last for decades and is a one-off. 

'Sustainability isn't about being cheaper, faster or easier,' says Bauche. 'It means fewer but better-made products. And hand-crafted shouldn't equate to cheap work done in Third World countries. Making something by hand is a chance to upgrade, to made a produt that is useful, worthwhile and which has a story to tell. But the product must be good, not some silly junk.'

Greg Drzymalski Design

Drzymalski, who's based in Worcestershire, had his idea for making lamps out of used motorbike parts while recovering from a series of eye operations. He was looking for a lamp for himself and when he couldn't find anything he liked, he had a eureka moment and realised how he could put to good use all the used bike parts he had in his workshop.


Pistons, conrods, springs..all find a home in these upcycled lamps
Camshaft stand..The hard metal contrasts appealingly with the fabric shades
Remember the old BSA bikes...
Bases can be coloured to customers' requirements

Drzymalski says his business caters for people who may be motorbike enthusiasts but may just like interior products with a vintage/retro/engineered look. The base and stands of the table lamps are motorbike parts, while the fabric shades can be in colours customers choose.

The lamps are all hand-made in England and comply with British safety standards.

Reach Drzymalski at Twitter @gregdrzymalskid or on Facebook: Greg Drzymalski Design