Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly
Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly
Image: Supplied

Ed's letter | A Conscious Kind of Beauty

The 2018 edition of Salone del Mobile has just come to an end in Milan, where the great and the good of the design world would have gathered to view the latest works by design studios around the globe.

It was most intriguing to read about an installation called Waste no More, curated by Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano — the trend-forecasting team who are regular visitors to South African shores.

Waste no More was a showcase of DesignWork, a new project by US fashion designer Eileen Fisher that involves the felting and stitching of used garments into striking wall hangings, upholstery, and interior accessories. The results are exquisite works of art and design — please search for them on the web and you’ll see what I mean.

But more striking than the pieces’ physical beauty, is what they represent. As Edelkoort observed: DesignWork blurs the boundaries between design, textiles, and activism. She calls it “a lifestyle brand found in the debris of overconsumption” and emphasises the idea of the circular economy: “When waste becomes wealth and culture, the circle has come around twice, empowering new ventures, gifting the world with true beauty.”

Fisher expands on how fashion’s modus operandi can be disrupted by providing renewable solutions: “What is new is how we’re scaling our systems to create a truly sustainable business model that’s circular by design.”

Fisher also introduces the staggering statistic that 85% of used and unsold clothes end up in landfills. Her upcycling of potential waste to create high design that hangs proudly at the world’s leading design fair should be an inspiration of what is possible to change the way we live and consume. Recycling is not only a philosophy and a good practice: it can be good business too.

Elsewhere in this edition, you’ll come across a delightful piece by Annegret Affolderbach about Nigerian-British artist and designer Yinka Ilori. His sweetie-coloured chairs are also so much more than just another upcycling story. As the author says, they represent a conscious marriage of imagination, heritage, care for the environment, and the creation of communities.

Upcycling has certainly come of age, and it’s beautiful.


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