We have seen quite a few projects on Ethical Design which was for me the most important take away of the recent Milan events. In our Milan 2017 report we pointed out that for the first time Critical Thinking Projects would directly address topics such as the refugee crisis at Moroso’s showroom or talk about the alarming lack of housing space in the center of larger cities such a London via Paul Cocksedge’s ‘EXCAVATION project. Waste No More, one of the larger exhibitions at Ventura Centrale which deserves a post on its own and therefore is not included in the Top 4 Installations, has been designed by Eileen Fisher and co-curated by Li Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano showing the importance of sustainable fashion and textiles generally speaking.
I did not expect less this year, but instead of finding political or demographic issues, there was a lot going on when it comes to share Sustainable Design, Circular Economy, and Creative Waste projects.
We have been toying with the idea for quite some time and believe it’s now or never that we have to open two new categories on the blog: Sustainable Design and Creative Waste will be represented from now on regularly and highlighted already on the landing page of the blog. And this is the general new direction of Eclectic Trends: a deeper research on stuff that matters to us talking about Ethical Design, Circular Economy, New Materials Research, combined with ongoing posts on color, micro trends, interior design and other categories.
The Waste No More installation confronted the visitor at the entrance of the vaulted tunnel with the reality of society’s discarded clothing piled in containers, while demonstrating at the same time how beautiful activism can look like. It was amazing to touch these pieces, they could not be softer.
What is interesting today is that sustainable design is not in conflict with a stylish appearance anymore.
Li Edelkoort explains that Eileen Fisher’s faithful fashions have generated a steady stream of income that has been invested in her company to give back to society with an initiative called Renew. Now she pushes her ideas a step further with the recycling of her own goods. Clients can give back their old Eileen’s, get five dollars to spend on something new, and are generating a rather amazing return of merchandise to their factory in Irvington, north of New York.
The DesignWork pieces are cleaned and checked for flaws or stains and all perfect items are put back on the market as vintage pieces. Clothes that are damaged beyond mending are carefully selected by fiber and color, ready to be reused and reinvented, re-colored at times. The garments that are created from scratch and scraps look amazingly young and design-driven. Combining different textiles in one style, they look like fashion student experiments; a far step from the regular collection, somehow showing that the business of recycling can set companies free from their own commercial rules, leaving space for innovation and creation.
Ultimately these new garments might become such a success that they will influence the permanent collection, making the arrow of recycling go back on its own track, recharging creativity from within, also providing women of different backgrounds generous grants with the financial results. When waste becomes wealth and culture, the circle has come around twice, empowering new ventures, gifting the world with true beauty.
These unique artistic pieces are close to art – Rothko comes to mind – but they are an intimate art to cuddle and care for the collector. Thus a lifestyle brand is found in the debris of overconsumption.- Li Edelkoort