Designing something with a ‘waste’ material makes perfect sense – especially if that material is already into it’s second life. Keeping materials at their highest possible quality is key to the success of the circular economy – and also recognising what the material strengths are. So, bags and accessories made from truck tarpaulins? Perfect sense. It’s day 6 of our Eco Gift Guide and today we are choosing the lovely stuff of M-24 bags…
With a great range of backpacks, messenger bags, wallets and accessories, M-24 create one off pieces from recovered UK truck tarpaulins that harness the very qualities a truck tarp has – strong, bright, waterproof.
This means that each product is an individual thing – a term that M-24 have dubbed ‘anti-lemmingism’. We all want to be seen as individuals, but unless we have the ability to make our own stuff, this is a better option than the mass produced, cheaply made, high mark-up alternatives on the market.
Plus, by not supplying retailers, but making their products available only through their website, pop-ups and their brand spanking new flagship store in Brighton, they are able to keep their prices very reasonable indeed as the retailer mark-up is eliminated. This also means that the cost of the high level finish and manufacturing techniques undertaken in the UK is feasible and products are available from just £5 for a keychain.
A great business model – and great products. Perfect for someone who needs their luggage to be robust and trustworthy, waterproof and individual. And what could be better than telling someone their Christmas pressie has been made in the UK and it is the ONLY one in the world?
That’s right folks – we’ve been away. Apologies for the radio silence these last couple of weeks, but things were rather hectic here at the studio, including a rather lovely trip from Brighton to Miami for the third Global Ghost Gear Initiative AGM. Coming together with people from all over the world, we were there as representatives of the World Cetacean Alliance, speaking about the different outreach projects we completed in 2016 based around marine litter.
Ghost gear is the term given to abandoned, discarded or otherwise lost fishing gear, which causes continued entrapment, entanglement and ingestion issues of all species. As modern fishing gear is plastic based, it does not degrade, so continues to fish for decades… The GGGI brings together the vast amount and variety of people needed to find solutions to these issues – from industry, fishers and policy makers to recyclers, NGO’s and manufacturers.
Arriving in Coconut Grove, Miami, Day one of the GGGI AGM started with a series of inspiring presentations from World Animal Protection (the current Secretariat) and break out sessions with each of the three working groups – Building Evidence, Best Practice and Replicating Solutions.
Due to the studio’s work, and activities with WCA, I sat into the review from the Replicating Solutions Group who reported a series of brilliant projects from around the globe, concentrating on ghost gear removal and recycling. There was much discussion about what worked well and how activities could be improved and scaled up.
After lunch, we sat back in our working groups, where I was officially adopted into the Replicating Solutions group – the largest (and loudest) group of the three. Figures. We then started to plan out our voyage for 2016-2017, coming up with some rather audacious goals for new projects, scaled up projects, new activities and new forms of communication. Day one finished and we were exhausted…
Day Two dawned hot and bright on the Miami coast and we started the final sessions reporting back to the other working groups about our plans – and starting to link the dots between the activities that both Building Evidence and Best Practice were planning. Things took shape. Comments were made, plans were set.
One of the last sessions was the Lightning Talks – a set of ten 5 minute talks from different members of the GGGI community. From gear recovery projects to working with developing countries, the logistics of gathering and storing ghost gear picked up at sea and what needs to be considered when transporting it for recycling – each person whizzed through their 5 minutes.
I was delighted to be reporting with Natalie Barefoot from CetLaw about the work we had both undertaken with WCA over the past year – from the interns who travelled to work with whale watching groups to educate visitors on the issues with ghost gear to the Ghost Gear Chandelier we made earlier in 2016 and exhibited at the Clerkenwell Design Week in May. The link-up between WCA and the Brighton Etsy group was also presented, along with the wonderful Lulu by Designosaur – one of my most treasured pieces of jewellery.
It was also great to see the range of products that are currently made from recovered ghost gear – either in an unprocessed form, or as a raw material in a mini pop-up exhibition. From Econyl based recycled nylon swimwear to door mats, bracelets and of course, Bureo, who were showing their skateboards and sunglasses. I was rather taken with their Yuco glasses…
A final sum up and we were done. It was great to be invited to be part of such a great group of pro-active people and we cannot wait to get going with the work we have got as part of our WCA / GGGI Replicating Solutions working group activities…
As our materials get increasingly more robust, intelligent and indeed, man made, we have a bit of a double edged sword. In many respects, the newer ‘engineered’ materials often have a longer usable life, but unlike more natural materials, they are often hard or impossible to repair or recycle. Then we have an issue with a waste material. As we move towards a more circular based economy, it is essential that we find uses for these materials that would otherwise become landfill or incinerator fodder. Why waste something that can be reused? This is exactly the ethos of Mafia Bags.
Based in San Francisco, Mafia take the discarded and defunct windsurf, kiting and boating sails that have reached the end of their water based lives and transform them into functional and practical bags (very much like studio favourites Freitag do with truck tarps).
The resulting pieces are not only functional and make excellent use of a ‘waste’ material, they are completely individual. Nobody else will have the same configuration of materials as you in your bag. In a world of supposed sterile homogeneity of brands, we certainly celebrate this individuality too.
With a good selection of styles, colours and sizes, there is a bag for any occasion. Duffel bags to laptop covers, and very nice new additions to the Discover Backpack range. See one you love? Grab it before it is gone. It will be the only one. (race you all to the one below)
Got a sail yourself? You can donate it to Mafia and let them know what you would like it to be made into. And if you have a Mafia bag, they will repair it or replace it if it fails – for life – and for free. This is in the same vein as the Patagonia Repair Your Gear programme, where technicians will repair your beloved apparel so you can use it for longer.
This is what we need in brands. We need brands like Mafia and Patagonia who do not just want to sell to us, but believe so strongly in their products that they are willing to help us keep them, and love them longer.
Reusing waste material is an excellent start – keeping that second-life product in use is the future.
We are in the last week of our 2015 recap now, and for today we are casting our minds back to September, where we were mostly talking about zero waste…
(first published 10 Sept 2015)
Continuing our look at zero waste for zero waste week, today we are featuring one of our favourite places in Brighton. Silo, which opened in the North Laine area of the city earlier this year is heralded as a ‘pre-industrial food system’ which, as well as producing beautiful and delicious food, also produces zero waste.
Now, for a restaurant to declare that its is ‘zero waste’ is a huge achievement, but as founder of Silo, Doug McMaster points out – if you design and create ‘backwards’ – ie with the bin in mind, you can begin to eliminate waste before it has been produced, rather than dealing with it at the end. This is effective and clever.
Silo demonstrate that by working with producers directly, you can choose items that have been produced locally, in reusable / returnable vessels that continue to be in the loop once the contents have been used at the restaurant.
But reducing the packaging that you use is one thing. The largest, and most pressing waste produced from a restaurant is the food waste itself. Scraps, peelings, left overs – where does all this go? At Silo, they have Big Bertha – a composting machine that sits just inside the entrance to the side of the restaurant and converts everything into compost and liquid feed in an astonishingly short amount of time.
The 50-60kg of compost it produces overnight is distributed back to the growers that they get their raw goods from – literally closing the loop. As you enter the restaurant, one shelf is filled with boxes from the Espresso Mushroom Company, happily sprouting their brown and pink oyster mushrooms from the mix of recycled compost and locally sourced coffee grounds in the cool shade.
But it is not just the food that is zero waste at Silo – the pastries that greet you are served on multicoloured discs of plastic – melted plastic bags that have found a new use and the interior itself is a delight of the industrial aesthetic with reclaimed wood seating and reclaimed flooring used as tables.
There is a distinct honesty to everything at Silo. The kitchen is open at one end, the flour is milled in another corner of the open plan space (although not when service is on as it is pretty noisy) and the jugs of water are filled with the visible offcuts of herbs from the kitchen. You drink the water from jam jars and lovely ceramic mugs, obviously.
Many people have baulked at the idea of a zero waste restaurant, confining it to the very ‘green orientated creatives’ that live in Brighton, but whilst Silo wears a lot of it’s ethics on it’s sleeve (and rightly so), it also does it rather quietly. There is no massive signage declaring how it is holier than thou. Ask one of the staff and they will enthusiastically explain the systems – even Big Bertha – but there is no ramming of information down your throats, even though this is the system that many more restaurants could be (and should be) employing.
Go to Silo for the delicious food – and realise how zero waste in the food industry is possible.
Many moons ago, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Obsessed with sharks (and their behaviour patterns) I was going to travel the world studying these beautiful creatures and educating people about how they are animals to be admired, not feared. Fast forward a few years and I now study design, not sharks, but this deep connection to the oceans has never left. Living and working in Brighton certainly has something to do with this too, but the deeper we delve into our place as designers in this world, the more concerning we find our global attitude to our seas. It is not only sharks that have a lack of respect. And so, it was with great delight that we happened upon the Global Wave Conference, which, for the first time this year was held in the UK.
Hosted by Surfers Against Sewage (who we support as members in the studio), the three day event featured an incredible line up of environmentalists, researchers, artists, scientists, activists as well as surfers – each with their own observations, actions and concerns about our oceanic attitudes and the impact we have with our consumerist ways. Our seas and oceans reach between us all, across the globe – it’s one thing that truly unites us.
The conference was split into categories, with specialist speakers in each:
We were gutted to not be there – our studio research has very much been rooted in the ocean plastic and litter issue for a little while, but fortunately, each of the inspirational talks were recorded – and are now available on the Global Wave Conference website, but to get you started, we have selected three of our favourite talks which look in detail at our own obsession with marine litter and what you can do with it – Dr Marcus Eriksen from the 5 Gyres Institute, Jon Khoo – Co-Innovation partner with Interface Carpets and David Stover – Co-Founder of Bureo Skateboards (who we wrote about here)… enjoy.
(images and videos via the Global Wave Conference)
For the last of our photo specials for Brighton Fashion Week 2015, we are heading to the images we took at the first of the catwalk shows held at All Saint’s Church in Hove last week – the Sustain Show…
‘Clothing is a physical representation of our inner being; creativity, imagination, fantasies, desires, mentality and our ethics. Fashion is a second skin, one we shed daily and that remains malleable to our ever-changing sensibilities. Fashion should not be harmful in any way, nor irrelevant. Sustainability is key, and ethical garments can represent this beauty powerfully. Our ‘sustain’ show promotes sustainability through the showcasing of designers and practitioners that are willing to combine innovative fashion design and ethical thinking to produce unique and efficient collections. Brighton is a city that overflows with morality and strong ethical values, making it an ideal location for ‘sustain’ to premier. ‘Sustain’ will unveil collections designed to test the boundaries of sustainable fashion as we know it; expressing the personality of the city and its people.’
Plastic is something we have a bit of a bugbear about. Whilst we recognise it is a very useful and incredibly durable material, it is considered a single use material, which is just wrong. Recycling plastic is good, but keeping it ‘in the loop’ is a good thing to do, and creating stuff with plastic bottles is an interesting twist. We looked at the zero waste work of Sarah Turner back in February this year…
Bringing a bit of light into the depths of winter is a tradition that has long been part of human nature. The Yule log for instance, is one attempt to revive Mother Nature back into life and lighten the dark evenings. And lighting designer Sarah Turner has brought another tree to life with her recent installation for Nottingham’s annual Night Light event – with a string of recycled plastic and LED lights.
Adorning a bare magnolia tree in the grounds of St Mary’s church, the lights led from the path to the tree, with each shade being individually constructed from sandblasted, waste plastic bottles, hand cut into the shapes of the blooms. Turner also states that the installation takes what is essentially the waste of mankind to bring nature back to life in as naturalistic a form as possible.
As well as being beautifully poetic, the piece does talk about the impact that our waste has generally on the natural world – especially plastic, which, although recyclable, suffers from a relatively low recycling rate. It also ends up degrading into tiny pieces which find their way into the food chain, which is a huge biological concern. So, finding ways to reuse plastic can only be a good thing.
And if they are all as beautiful as the piece by Sarah Turner, so much the better.
Creativity comes in many forms, and sometimes it takes a lot to realise that you do not have to design and build everything from scratch. Utilising standard components that you can adjust, hack and amend to suit your exacting needs can often be a cost and time effective decision for a project. We have used this ‘off the peg’ plus ‘bespoke additions’ approach for projects where the budget is very tight with great success – and many other studios are doing the same. And IKEA – with it’s global uniformity and relatively simple modular designs are ripe for using as the bones of a large build.
Over the weekend we spotted this story on Dezeen, where the studio CHA:CAOL used standard IKEA products, such as kitchen cabinetry and wardrobe fittings to create the skeleton for an open plan apartment addition.
With storage integrated under stairs and a simple material palette, the apartment is unified and organised – two elements which sit well with the IKEA ethos.
This is sensible approach – using the readily available and reasonable components as the skeleton can allow you to be more creative with the facing materials, and allow a bit more of a budget to do so as well.
But this kind of hacking is pretty commonplace with individual pieces (as is seen on the IKEA Hackers website, where people show how they have amended pieces of furniture to suit their needs). It is becoming more of a common thing to do this in a design studio too, as more and more designers and architects utilise the utility nature of standardised IKEA pieces.
Another example of an IKEA hack is this temporary bar by Diogo Aguir and Teresa Otto, which was built from the very ubiquitous translucent plastic containers that are piled high in all stores.
So – IKEA hacking is here to stay – with designers and architects as much as it is with everyone else.
So – for two of our posts this week we have looked at the Project Ocean exhibition currently at Selfridges – and we thought we would continue with this theme with a look at two of the recent releases by big brands that highlight the ocean plastic plight.
First up is the recent concept shoe by Adidas and British designer Alexander Taylor – the Adidas x Parley, revealed at an event for the Parley for the Oceans initiative, which encourages creatives to repurpose ocean waste for awareness design.
The shoe, which is hoped to go into production in 2016 uses fibres created from nets recovered from illegal poaching vessels by marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd. As well as the material, the design of the shoe also references the waves of the nets in its patternation.
What is key is that Taylor and Adidas were able to create the concept shoe using the same machinery and methods that a ‘regular’ shoe is manufactured. Many of the arguments around using recycled yarns and materials centre around the misconception that there has to be massive manufacturing alterations to create form ‘waste’, so this move from Adidas shows this does not need to be the case.
Whilst Adidas are keen to promote this as a ‘concept’ shoe, we hope that this does not remain on the concept shelf and actually goes into production. Sceptics could argue that this, excuse the pun, is but a drop in the ocean when it comes to both reclaiming ocean plastic and creating new design from a waste material. Plus, given the size of Adidas it could be seen as a little bit greenwashy, but hey – shouldn’t this be the exact behaviour we should be encouraging big brands to undertake? Isn’t this better than the alternative of creating from virgin materials?
The Adidas x Parley concept is certainly a step in the right direction, but there are already brands who are creating fashion to purchase, using yarns made from plastic waste.
G-Star RAW has recently revealed it’s third collaborative collection with Pharrell Williams which uses ocean plastic fibres mixed with other materials. The RAW for the Oceans collection features the tag line ‘turning the tide on plastic ocean pollution’ and features jumpers, t-shirts, jackets and jeans.
It is reported that 700,000 PET bottles have been removed from the ocean to go into the production of the RAW for the oceans collections so far, which is not a considerable amount of plastic recovered. Again, a tiny fraction, but as the old saying goes – better out than in.
But the most interesting element for us is the psychology that goes with these collections – by creating something from a waste material, there is a point you have to cross in customers’ minds – where does ‘rubbish’ end and ‘luxury’ begin? Big brands certainly have the scale and opportunity to create a real attitude change, and it is interesting to understand whether people purchase these goods because they are fashionable and ‘on trend’, or whether they purchase them because they are made from an ‘ethical’ material. Where does the buy in happen? Also, what happens to these garments when they reach the end of their life – have they been designed for circularity?
Morning all! Welcome to the start of a new week – and we are delighted to announce that we have won another award here on The Ecospot, being listed as the ‘best in upcycling’ category by Surveybee in their 2015 Eco-Chic Blogger Awards.
Today in our SPOTTED we are jetting back to Milan, where we had a rather fantastic time at the Salone del Mobile – and in particular, in the Euroluce pavilions. It was quite evident that the current trend for neon, exposed bulbs and cage lighting is still very much en vouge, but there were a few other lights that took our fancy too – including the Egg of Columbus recycled paper light by Valentina Caretta at Seletti.
Constructed from the same sort of recycled paper pulp that we more commonly associate with egg boxes, the Egg of Columbus light was actually a beautiful thing. The tinted varieties are soft, with the material giving a nice matt appearance to the shades and the shapes are equally delicate and undulating.
This is posh pulp.
And when mixed with lovely contrasting cabling, they really do come alive.
A really lovely design that makes full use of the very short fibres of recycled paper.
Yes. For those eagle eyed people out there – yes – the title of this post has been shamelessly ripped off from the subtitle of the marvellous ‘Cradle to Cradle’ manifesto by Braungart and McDonough. But it is something that we think about a great deal here in the studio. We are designers and makers of spaces, things and experiences – and we need to be fully aware of how we go about that. We continually rethink the way we make things. Because of this rather healthy obsession, we are really interested to see how other people are going about it too…
Now, we have featured the Sea Chair project by the great Studio Swine here on The Ecospot before and it remains firmly one of our very favourite projects of all time. It is elegant and beautiful and speaks very poetically about the waste that is affecting our oceans. But Studio Swine also created a project called Can City, which also deals with similar problems in a very similar way…
It is an elegant project – perhaps not replicable in large scales, but with a bit of rethinking – why not? We have so much waste that not only creates problems of disposal, health and contamination, but also we need to realise that this is raw material and resources that are literally being wasted. This on a global scale is not sustainable at all, so this kind of rethinking and recovery are becoming absolutely imperative.
As designers, this is our responsibility to rethink the way we make things.
Well – happy World Book Day everyone. We have to say, every day for us is a book day as we have a possibly unhealthy obsession with all things book and print – from the very new to the very old. However, we are fully aware that the invention of the good old internet has (to many) made the book a little redundant. We do not agree totally as there is something extra that a book can always give you – as an experience – over a screen. Texture, pattern and history are just a smattering of these things, but if a book has little ‘value’ could we use it for something else instead? Oh yes. We have written before on The Ecospot all about people who have made lovely things from old books and for World Book Day we have found another…
This fantastic print by Page Rager combines many of our favourite things – prints, recycling and Bill Murray. There really is not much to not like!
Available now from the Page Rager Etsy shop for a very reasonable £6 or so plus delivery. Not loving the Groundhog master as much as us? There are plenty of other prints available, from Audrey Hepburn to Yoda.
We are very lucky at the studio to be located along a very long road in Hove that can only be described as ‘eclectic’. With Portslade Station at one end, and well into the reaches of Hove in another, Portland Road is about a mile or so of houses, schools, a park and a variety of retail spaces (plus our little studio, based in the old public toilet). But theses are not any old retail spaces – they are all mostly small, independent shops and cafes – all very different. But what struck us recently whilst walking to the Post Office (6 minutes from studio) was how many great examples of repair, refurbished, service based industry and reclaimed goods shops there were on Portland Road.
There are two launderettes. A sewing and alteration workshop, two computer repair shops, a cobbler, an refurbished oven place. A scattering of secondhand stores, a hardware store and the Bargain Vacuum Centre, to name but a few. And it was in the last store – the Bargain Vacuum Centre that we found the latest addition to our studio – an almost new, refurbished Dyson City vacuum cleaner.
Complete with all the bits and bobs – and a 9 month guarantee, this little vacuum only set us back £50. ‘Any problems and whizz it back’, we were told. ‘Sure, we replied – we are just along the road’. And this is what is great about this type of ‘High Street’ – the mix of people, skills and services – all independent and backlit acrylic sign free – offering the personable experience that is not found elsewhere. This is what we love and this is why we are very proud to be part of Portland Road.
We need to save these types of road, because there is very little that we are not able to access within a 7 minute walk of the studio – and we are very aware that this is a precious rarity. Chains have their places, but these are the roads that can offer us repair, reuse or leasing – on our doorsteps…
As designers we are faced with daily choices. How to design something – what it is made of and how we source the materials are key to understanding the impact of our designs. This is why we choose to work with as much ‘waste’ material as possible in our work and we are delighted to see examples of how other designers are tackling the same issues. The Structural Skin project by Spanish designer Jorge Penadés is a great example of very alternative thinking.
Leather working, whilst very traditional, is extremely wasteful and inefficient as a process, so Penades has created a new method for using the scraps of otherwise discarded leather. The pieces, after being shredded, are bound and compressed to produce a material that looks rather like a bar of nut studded chocolate, but can be used to create new products – like the examples from the capsule collection which features a clothes rail and side table.
Due to the natural quality of the material, it features a whole range of colours and patternations, adding to the individual nature of each of the pieces.