In the 19th century, jars were invented to keep food from spoiling, but these perfect little vessels have since become a favorite among DIYers and upcyclers with a propensity for cutesy objects. Need a vase or a terrarium? And what about a lantern? Or maybe a sturdy tumbler?
Two hundred years into its history, the humble vessel has grown into one of the most versatile pieces of glassware ever invented. But the secret to its versatility may not lie in the glass after all—but rather what goes on top.
French industrial design studio Extrude has developed 10 lids that can turn your old glass jar into a fun piggy bank, a practical soap holder, even a chic ashtray. The lids, which are more like holders that screw on top of the jar, are 3D printed, using bioplastic packaging waste from a Dutch startup called Reflow, which collects plastic from recyclers and turns it into 3D-printing filaments. To limit its carbon footprint, Extrude is only shipping those in Europe, but if you have a 3D printer at home, you can buy a file for a couple of bucks a pop.
In true French fashion, it started with the ashtray. “I could go on about poetry, but the truth is very simple,” says Emilie Durand, one of the studio’s four founders who designed the majority of the lid holders. “A friend who comes to my place often needed an ashtray, and she just took a jar that was lying around.” Except how do you rest a cigarette on a wide-mouth jar? Durand’s answer is a ring-shaped holder that screws on top of the jar and comes with a laser-cut tray sitting in the middle.
The entire collection is built around the same principle and includes a segmented pencil pot with room for an eraser, an incense holder, a self-watering pot, and a candle holder. In many cases, you could argue that the jars don’t really need those holders to perform the same function: you can drop a tea candle inside the jar, or keep your paint brushes in a jar filled with water, but look a little closer and you will notice the elevated ergonomics. A lid that doubles as a tea candleholder lets you store more tea candles beneath it (the candle sits on a thin layer of cork, so the plastic doesn’t warp). And a paintbrush holder means your brushes don’t have to soak and bend while you’re taking a break.
“It goes back to the DNA of the studio, which is all about making objects that are functional and aesthetic,” says Mano Silberzahn, another one of Extrude’s founders who designed the paintbrush holder as well as a knock box that lets espresso machine owners dump their used coffee grounds in style. “It’s also about shifting the way people look at objects—in particular, waste.”