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This artist turns old Nikes into sculptural marvels made of moss, bark, and rock

I want a pair.

This artist turns old Nikes into sculptural marvels made of moss, bark, and rock

Christophe Guinet grew up between two worlds. Part of his life was spent in Marseille, where he discovered the wonders of nature. Part of his life was spent in Paris, where he discovered skating and urban culture.

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As a young adult, staring at his own growing collection of sneakers in his closet, he wanted to be able to recycle them, somehow. And that’s when his alter ego was born: Monsieur Plant. He’s an artist who works at the intersection of consumerism and nature. And since 2015, he’s been recycling old Nikes into plant sculptures, reskinning his shoes with natural materials including moss, bark, and flowers—some of which he preserves to sell to art collectors, no watering required.

“I like to play with the opposition and use symbols giving them a natural and ethical twist, as if to say that nature will always triumph over man and his consumption patterns,” wrote Guinet over email.

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His latest three works pictured here—Topical, Captain Wood, and Fossil—are gorgeous explorations of cognitive dissonance. On one hand, his works present a repulsive, dystopian view of a post-consumer world, one in which humankind has destroyed itself in excess, and nature continues on without us. (Note how in each of these pieces, Guinet captures not just the shoes, but the strata of earth beneath them, turning shoes into archaeological artifacts of a world gone by.) On the other, these are still Nikes that Guinet is peddling—some of the most lustable consumer products in the world! And his one-off creations, as bleak as they may be, can feel like the highest articulation of sneakerhead culture. After all, what are contemporary sneakers but mass-produced modern art, a field in which scarcity and avant-garde designs drive value?

I can appreciate Guinet’s works more now than I could have a few years ago, knowing that Adidas and Nike are both taking significant steps to transform their shoes into circular products. But each of his works still lands with a gut punch, reminding us of our literal footprint upon this perfect planet.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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