We had a great spread in the Santa Cruz Weekly last week written by Cat Johnson. To read the whole version click here.

Most  people don’t look at a rusty old hammer and see the perfect thing to hang on an interior wall, or see a pile of padlocks as potential art or weatherbeaten wood as a place to put cherished photos. These are things that you find in junk piles and salvage yards. But to those with an eye for upcycling and repurposing, these things are treasures that have the potential to add an inspired touch to a space.

“It’s all about context,” says Suna Lock, partner at Stripe Design Group in Santa Cruz. “If you see a whole heap of stuff on a tarp at the flea market or a yard sale, you have to look beyond that moment. If something’s broken or rusty, it might not be trash. It could be a beautiful object in its own right, or you could use it in a different way.”

While a single has-been tool hanging on a wall may be considered an unusual decorating touch, several has-been tools, spaced and aligned perfectly, makes for good design. Lock and Dana Norrell, her business partner at Stripe, are masters of this technique. The walls of their two downtown shops are filled with unexpected, exquisitely rendered displays and designs. Things that would be, and presumably have been, tossed aside, such as sardine tins, fruit crate labels and saw blades are upcycled into displays that catch the eye and please the mind.

“There’s a growing interest in repurposing and not wasting,” says Lock. “We’re showing people how to look at things in a different way.”

To get the Stripe look, Lock suggests finding a balance between the old and the new so a space doesn’t look “too antique-y.” She talks about the importance of knowing the space; whether you want hard or soft elements in it and confining the area. “Keeping the design to a space,” she says, “makes the design stronger.”

Lock also stresses the use of repetition in design. “There’s something about the power of multiples,” she says. “It can be something small in a large amount of multiples or five distinct, strong items. There’s no rule.” She says that the process is more intuitive than formulaic and that she and Norrell rarely disagree about a design. “We just kind of instinctively know how many is too many and how many is too few,” she says. “Sometimes we have to stand back and look at something and edit it. We’ll take 15 out and put two back in, and that’s when it feels good.”