Recent reports estimate that the world produced 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste last year alone, a record high that’s expected only to rise. In an effort to prevent digging up precious materials like gold, silver, and aluminum just to return them to the ground later on as trash, the sustainable fashion brand Vollebak has introduced Garbage Watch.
As its name suggests, the upcycled timepiece is constructed with old motherboards, microchips, and computer parts, utilizing bright electrical cords as the strap with an open face and exposed mechanisms. “We’ve taken an ‘inside-out’ design approach with the Garbage Watch, making the functional inner workings highly visible,” said Vollebak co-founder Nick Tidball in a statement to Inhabitat. “Our aim was to reframe an often invisible and hazardous end of the supply chain, and make people think deeply about the impact of treating their wearables in a disposable manner.”
An undertaking in partnership with the Wallpaper* Re-Made project, the timepiece officially launches in 2021, although a waitlist is currently open. Until then, find more of Vollebak’s sustainable designs on Instagram.
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Complete with spiraled tentacles, textured features, and toothy grins, the yarn-based creatures that Indonesian artist Mulyana knits and crochets take a playful, bizarre approach to ocean life. The artist frequently recreates what he refers to as the mogus, or octopus, as a mainstay in his underwater environments. Dotted with multiple sets of eyes, the creature has various iterations ranging in size, color, facial contortions, and number of tentacles. Each billowing mogus is presented suspended from the ceiling, giving it the appearance of floating through the ocean.
While many of Mulyana’s formations are brightly colored, the pieces in his Bety series (shown below) are crafted entirely in white to draw attention to coral bleaching caused by pollution. To maintain his own commitments to sustainability and community, Mulyana re-purposes the yarn that forms his textured corals and ocean life.
If you’re in New York, Mulyana’s sea creatures can be seen at Sapar Contemporary through August 21. Otherwise, keep up with the artist’s vibrant projects on Instagram, and check out where the mogus heads on its next adventure.
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Thousands of Plastic Bottles Are Suspended in Green Tendrils in Artist Jean Shin's Latest Installation
In her installation “Floating MAiZE,” artist Jean Shin employs more than 7,000 plastic bottles to create a stunning suspension above an atrium at Brookfield Place. The window-lined space allows light to refract through the translucent tendrils, which are hung in a staggered, circular shape. Layered with sustainable practices, the latest installation reuses the green, plastic bottles from the 2017 project, “MAiZE,” which utilized Mountain Dew that was consumed and collected in Iowa, the nation’s leader in corn production. Living and working in Brooklyn, Shin also sourced some pieces from Sure We Can, a nonprofit recycling center in her neighborhood.
The recycled piece falls at the intersection of environmental consciousness and commentary on food consumption in the United States. “Following the food chain from industrial-scale agricultural practice producing corn in America that ends up being consumed as high fructose corn syrup in soda and other processed foods, served up in plastics that become harmful pollutants in our oceans,” the artist writes on Instagram.
Shin tells Colossal that her works help to expose “the interdependency of their consumer habits to the larger ecosystem,” which she elaborates on by saying:
I use everyday objects and detritus that are often overlooked or obsolete to transform them into large scale installations. The lifecycle and accumulation of these consumer objects have a huge environmental impact. I am interested in where these materials come from, where they end up and who engages with them.
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United Kingdom-based designer Alexandra Sipa creates spellbinding accessories and garments from waste electrical wires. The Central Saint Martins’ graduate initially was inspired to experiment with wires as textiles when her headphones broke, leading her to extract the colorful coils and cables to create wire lace.
The designer learned to craft vibrant lace from YouTube videos, books, and her own mishaps, and one of her enchanting dresses took 1,000 hours to complete. Many cultural and historical references are woven into her pieces, including her interest in extreme austerity and heightened femininity in Romania. “The aesthetic of Bucharest is a mix of French architecture, grey brutalist apartment complexes, and mega communist structures (like the Palace of Parliament), while the women are usually very careful about the way they look, getting all dressed up for a supermarket trip and loving the ultra-glamorous, ultra-feminine look.”
Objects of nostalgia, the ruffled garments evoke her Romanian grandmother’s damaged, garden fence. They mirror the endless colors that were revealed throughout the cracks. More broadly, Sipa’s work is dedicated to how her grandmother cares for her household objects, reinventing them with time. “Every time I visit her, there’s something changed around the house, something moved, something repainted,” the designer says. “She will make any object look like a treasure, no matter where it came from. That stuck with me.”
Sipa’s garments echo her views on sustainability, and she believes that otherwise unwanted products should be seen as an opportunity to create new inventions and discover unusual techniques. “As my practice is rooted in creating luxury products out of local waste sources, my collection tackles one of the fastest-growing sources of waste in electronic waste, reaching 50 million tons in 2020,” she explains.
The designer’s goal is the complete circularity of her garments. “The industry is becoming aware of the urgency for change due to the climate emergency and the increasing demand from consumers for more sustainable options,” she explains. “However, companies need to recognize the business opportunity in the circular fashion industry.” The designer also stresses the importance of recognizing the economic, environmental, and social impacts. “ Fashion needs to become more sustainable from the inside out, not only in the materials used but also ethically in the treatment and compensation of workers in the production chain and workers designing the clothes.”
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A 2019 study notes that 1.8 million residents of Mexico live without electricity, while some sources say an additional five million have limited access. In an effort to provide affordable, sustainable solar power, six students from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey have designed lamps that can be constructed easily with materials commonly found throughout Mexico’s rural areas. Using wicker, agave plants, coconut bark, adobe, collagen, and black beans, the designers have created hand-held vessels powered by reusable solar cells and LED lights.
Inspired by artist Olafur Eliasson’s (previously) similarly sustainable Little Sun, Moisés Hernández, who led the project, told Dezeen that students were tasked with creating lamps with easily reproducible exteriors. “With these new material ideas that came from different sites across Mexico, where the weather and context are so different, the students visualized new scenarios where these type of technological objects can be assembled and distributed to local people,” Hernández said. When the lamps need to be replaced, users simply can remove the solar and LED components and position them in new vessels.
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With Jun Aizaki’s latest design, you could be picking up your morning latte poured into a dried gourd rather than a disposable adorned with a green siren. The Brooklyn-based designer, who owns CRÈME, recently launched a project to reduce single-use plastic waste by shaping the flowering fruit into simple drinking vessels. Heading The Gourd Project, Aizaki created both a cup and a flask that can hold hot and cold liquids and are an alternative to traditional products. After three to six uses, the containers can be composted with other food waste.
Aizaki “explored the century-old craft of drying plants to make receptacles, in order to find a way to reduce plastic and contribute to nature through design,” project organizers said. Each biodegradable vessel takes about six weeks to grow from its first planting at a Pennsylvania farm with six harvests each year. Because gourds have tough skin and fibrous insides, they’re shaped easily as they fill out. Each 3D mold is made of plastic right now, although the team hopes to switch to reusable materials once it expands production.
The sustainable project comes amid reports that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is increasing plastic consumption and affecting how, and if, the material is recycled, in addition to companies banning reusable cups and containers to stop the spread of the virus.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.