June 27, 2013 / 3:13 PM / 6 years ago

Recovering junkies power Austrian design label

Bags made from used canvases are on display at the shop of Austrian design label Gabarage in Vienna June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

VIENNA (Reuters) - Recovering drug addicts are powering an Austrian design label that aims to salvage not just people, but also materials that were destined for the scrap heap.

Vienna-based Gabarage - the name combines the 11-year-old company’s roots in a garage and garbage - now offers furniture made from old escalator steps, vases created from used soccer balls and tables built from film canisters.

Its design philosophy is based on “upcycling” junk while helping to reintegrate people with dependency issues into mainstream society, said marketing manager Daniel Strobel.

The not-for-profit outfit employs between 20 and 26 people at any one time and uses a pool of designers for projects that have included bags and laptop cases made from used tarpaulins on construction sites or file folders made with plastic bottle caps for clasps.

Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by Paul Casciato

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