About this time last year, I wrote about my obsession with Adrian Johnson's Fridge Couches  — some of the coolest upcycled furniture I'd seen available for sale at that point. Over the past 12 months, recycled design and upcycled furniture seems to have caught on in a big way, as evidenced by this spread in ReadyMade  and the amazingly addictive collection of project photos that is SuperUse.org , a social network of recycled-materials designers and architects.
Warning: you will lose at least an hour by clicking on SuperUse.
(At least I did.)
The Dutch seem to have a stronghold on the "super use" trend, largely (it seems) due to Rotterdam-based SuperUse.org. Watch the e2 Design series on PBS (2006) , narrated by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, as evidence. In the episode linked below, the guys at 2012 Architects — co-founders of SuperUse.org — talk about the ultimate in people-movers turned interior design: a coffee kiosk made from an old space station. 
If this is what legalized marijuana and a collaborative cabal of artists, academics, and government can do for economies and the environment, what the hell are we waiting for? But, I digress...
Some of my favorite "super-used" projects, like the Fridge Couch, combine parts from consumer goods with parts from old vehicles: boats, cars, scooters, bikes, pretty much anything that had a former life taking people from point A to point B.
While not all are available for sale, I wanted to share with you my favorite upcycled furniture projects in that vein, recently featured on SuperUse.org, for your own DIY design inspiration:
Vespa Chair by Bel y Bel (Barcelona) 
At least to an Italian girl like me, there isn't much cooler than a Vespa, save this super-comfy-looking office chair made from a vintage Vespa by Bel y Bel in Barcelona. Be sure to check out the website and studio photos from this two-brother operation, as well as their Sofa SEAT 600  — sort of like a cool, Euro cousin to the Fridge Couch.
Bike Tire Chairs by Bike Furniture Design (Michigan) 
According to their website, BFD founder Andy Gregg has been creating super-used furniture since 1990, making him one of the early American "upcyclers." Not only does his Michigan-based shop make its furniture from old bike tires, inner-tubes and rims, but they encourage customers to donate their old bikes and bike parts in exchange for a discount on BFD designs. Talk about a Shoestring full circle of stuff.
Fishing Boat Child's Chairs by Bas Bosma (Netherlands) 
Maybe it's because I've had a lifelong love affair with all things seaside yet can't afford a Cape or Islands cottage, but I think I would have given up all of my Barbies to have these chairs in my room as a kid. Scratch that: to quote Veruca Salt, "I want it now, daddy!"
Recycoool Innertube Furniture by Nir Ohayon (Israel) 
There's something about these chairs that evokes idyllic visions of tubing down the river, whiling away a summer afternoon, yet they could easily be mistaken for mid-century modern design without noticing the recycled nature of their materials. I think that's going to be something we see more and more of in home goods and furniture moving forward.
V8 Engine Coffee Table by Christoff Brock (England) 
If I knew what kind of grease-cutting agent this designer used to get the V8 engine base so shiny, I probably would never pay another dollar to my dry cleaner. The design and construction seem otherwise simple: old engine + cut glass = super awesome living room centerpiece. I definitely encourage you to try this at home, but you may want to buy Goop or Lava soap in bulk first.
1944 DC-3 Wing Desk by Dolph Bode (Netherlands) 
Do you happen to be a relation of Amelia Earhart, or know someone who owns a vintage airfield? Well, then you're in a DIY dream: the Dutchman who designs these super-cool office desks has to travel all around the world in search of the last vestiges of these historic WWII-era planes to build these (slightly steampunk) super-used desks.
The Ship Residence on Lake Erie (Ohio) 
I swear we previously researched a hotel along these lines, but this particular Ship Residence is the genius marriage of a decommissioned ship and waterfront home — now doing duty as a private residence along the shores of the Great Lakes. Seems like a nightmare in the permitting department, but also the fulfillment of a Captain's dream.
Boeing 747-100 Restaurant (South Korea) 
Even if you're deathly afraid of flying, you have to love the idea for this idea for a retired Pan-Am airliner turned restaurant. It's an inspiring and inventive re-use project on a literally "super" scale, even though the restaurant, too, is now sadly retired. (Check out the full story and photo slideshow on DarkRoastedBlend.com  for more on this project.)
Citroen Sideboard by Burton (Netherlands) 
Pictured above in the photo by John Bosma and described by the photographer as "a cupboard made from the back doors from the Citroen 2CV Camionette model," this super-use project is actually the by-product of scraps from Citroen CV cars that are super-used into new cars by Zutphen-based Burton Car Company . Brothers Dimitri and Iwan Gobel established their company in 1993 while in art school, and have grown super-use to a corporate level in the auto industry. I know what I'd be driving if we were based anywhere in Europe.
Ecohostel Andromeda (Belgium) 
Sitting on a canal in Ghent, this old barge-turned-hostel is a super-use project on a super-fun scale. The hostel claims to be "eco" on both levels — ecological and economical — and offers a fair trade organic breakfast included when you book most rooms. Rates start at just 22 Euro per night (about $31) or you can book the entire Ecohostel barge for groups of up to 18 people for just 350 Euro (about $490).
For more inspiring "super-used" and other design projects, check out NotCot.com , a design discovery blog from the cool peeps behind TasteSpotting.
Copyright 2010 Shoestring, LLC. Photo: John Bosma