Final Round-Up: Designers turn trash into treasure at this year’s Slow Hand Design exhibition
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure—an age-old adage that rings true when you look at this year’s Slow Hand Design exhibition and its cohort of designers
Today, in our final round-up (see parts one + two) related to the Slow Hand Design exhibition, we meet several design duos whose mutual passion for sustainability has transformed their perspective on production, and the artist Wishulada Panthanuvong who transforms single-use plastics and other waste into magnificent art works, all with the aim of changing the world for good…
Knitting has never been so cool. Aibelle is a funky textile fashion brand that uses leftover cotton yarn from knitting factories to create bright and beautiful handbags, straps and earrings. The company was founded by its namesake designers, Aib and Belle, two college friends who graduated in industrial design with a specialisation in textile design.
Together, they have built a brand that focuses on bold colours as an expression of self-confidence and positivity. The business started when Belle visited a factory for her master’s thesis project and found stocks of unused yarn, which she and Aib transformed into their own upcycled textile material called “Knitted Rope”.
“We took advantage of it while using our expertise as textile designers to breathe new life into the abandoned stocks of yarn,” explained the design duo. “Now, we offer limited collections of bags and accessories because we can’t predict what colour the yarns will be that we retrieve.”
A self-proclaimed expert in giving a new life to the old and shabby junk, Artslonga has created a collection of wall tiles that breathe new life into waste materials.
The company prides itself on bringing together a unique combination of refined crafts, artistry and waste materials abandoned in architectural and interior construction sites.
Some are leftover heavy industry materials, while others are decayed wooden stilts from destructive house ruins, all of which have been reinvented and resurrected as newly designed objects for interior wall decorations.
Collaborations between textile and furniture designers are arguably some of the greatest examples of artistic expression, producing materials that stand out in a sea of homogenous offerings. The Jarupatcha Collection is exactly that, which brings together the talents of textile designer Jarupatcha Achavasmit and furniture designer Ake Atthasumpunna.
Formally titled “Red Fox and Albatross”, the collaborative project uses the duo’s different expertise to create a collection of textile collages. Their works are part-drawing, part-textile, a hybrid that highlights the value of handicrafts. Each one uses handmade paper and recycled yarns to create textured backgrounds for a cast of playful characters. The collection also showcases natural dyeing techniques, including a beautiful indigo blue that bleeds into a series of handwoven paper strips.
Lamunlamai is a Bangkok-based artisanal craft and ceramic pottery studio founded by artists Nol Netprom and Nopkamon Akarapongpaisan. Both graduated in Industrial Design from the Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, sharing a passion for pottery that communicates the story of the living space. Together, they create various tableware objects, decorative items and installation art pieces that capture a sense of serenity, just like the name of their studio name, which means ‘gentle’ or ‘mellow’ in Thai.
It’s a perfect partnership—while Nol likes to experiment on functionality, Nopkamon is interested in the connection between objects and feelings. The result is a balanced collection which has won them numerous prizes including the 2022 Design Excellence Award, Thailand’s most prestigious award given in recognition of outstanding Thai-design products. For Slow Hand Design, the duo will present a collection of sustainable ceramics made from upcycled biomaterials including eggshells, carrot pulps, and coffee grounds. Each piece will tell the story of its source material.
Mango Mojito seeks perfection in every detail of its craftsmanship. Every step of shoe-making process is passed through the hands of its skilled shoe makers and features high quality leather that is masterfully cut, sewn, and assembled into a pair of shoes before receiving a final touch by the colorist who applies the patina to enhance its classic and elegant appearance.
The brand is all about classic men’s shoes proudly crafted in Thailand and perfectly tailored to the Thai consumer: “Our shoes are well-designed to fit the foot shape of Thai people. Because you may not realize that foot shape of people in each country, there may be a slight difference,” explains the brand. Mango Mojito‘a collection is vast, ranging from suede, cowhide, lambskin and goatskin. During Milan Design week the brand will unveil its knee recycled knitting sneaker which uses old t-shirts to create a recyclable shoe made for everyday living.
One More Thing
One More Thing is a material driven brand who specialises in textiles and graphic patterns.
“Our main focus is to explore eccentric surfaces and express them through modern abstract interpretations of traditional weaving techniques”, they explain. The company also functions as a collaborative platform for talented artists, makers, and designers who are as passionate in woven surfaces and believe in breaking the mould too.
At Slow Hand Design, One More Thing will present 6 permanent collections inspired by the aged textures of Charoenkrung, the Old Town of Bangkok, including Old Kimonos dissected and transformed into a new patchwork pattern. The brand will also unveil a collaboration with Luck Maisalee, an accomplished artist from Chiang Mai whose works are often an experiment with various techniques, materials and often mixes things that are not accepted in the mainstream. He’s particularly interested in Outsider Art, such as Folk art, Naïve art, Primitive art, Craft as well as Childhood art.
An iconic piece of Thai Design, the Sculpture Chair (1999) is arguably best known for its feature in the Hollywood sci-fi movie The Hunger Games in 2012. Nicknamed “the sexy chair” because of its aesthetic, which resembles a corset from the front and a high heel from the back, it is constructed from an industrial seat belt material which is hand-woven and wrapped around a wooden frame.
The chair encapsulates designer Nuttapong Charoenkitivarakorn’s love of combining a sleek modern look with time-honoured production techniques. He uses weaving techniques inspired by Thai traditional basket and container weaving crafts that make the most of their materials.
Each chair is designed to have soft-touch surfaces, flexibility, and durable quality with different shades at the same line; they display different colours when viewed from different angles.
Bangkok-based Thais is an eco leather brand whose aim is to create unique, aesthetic and functional new eco-materials that elevate the art of sustainable living. The company was founded by Chi and May, who both trained at a leather goods manufacturer where they discovered the beauty and benefits of discarded leather scraps. Seeing an opportunity in the waste, they committed to turning this waste into eco-friendly treasure.
The company is centred on what it calls a “Regenesis Process”: “It’s a unique green recycling process,” explains Chi and May. “We transform leather wastage into a high value, remarkably tasteful and sustainable new material, which is 100% recycled.” The brand demonstrates the potential of this material by producing finished products, including bags & accessories, lifestyle products and wall decor, all of which sport a marble-like texture reflective of the source material and its various tanning processes.
The Touchable Workshop was founded in 2000 with the aim of producing and manufacturing custom furniture for office buildings and corporate projects, humble beginnings which have led to a sizable portfolio today including reputable hotel brands and private clients. Along the way, the company has focused on design minded innovation and a dedication to sustainable production.
Today, the company offers an extensive range of fashion accessories and home decor, which use small pieces of rattan left from furniture making and scraps of yarn left over from weaving carpets and colours that do not pass QC.
“This initiative originated from the idea of utilising every bit of wastage that comes from our workshop, such as wood, leather, fabric, veneer and any other items that can be fruitfully utilised to make goods,” says Touchable. Each piece has been realised in bold and bright colour, capturing a sense of optimism whilst highlighting the positive impact of their designs.
Not only are Wasoo’s decorative bio panels made from waste materials like rice straw and coffee husks but they are constructed using low-energy upcycling methods compared to the incineration and landfill of agricultural wastes that cause air pollution, PM2.5 toxic dust and reduces carbon emissions. As part of the Slow Hand Design exhibition, Wasoo will exhibit Breath, an all-natural tile collection which aims to restore balance and peace of mind within interiors.
Each tile is made using natural waste materials sourced from agricultural production, which have been used to create a textured composite which has been naturally dyed using herbs and natural stone. Arranged in compositions that vary in colour, each tile is combined with wooden scraps from local carving factories. Each panel creates a unique sense of warmth whilst the natural fibres provide acoustic and thermal insulation for a healthy, flame retardant indoor environment.
Artist Wishulada Panthanuvong is on a mission to educate the world about the impact of rubbish. Her medium is her art, which uses trash to create spectacularly detailed, large-scale installations. Her aim is to raise awareness of the importance of recycling and circular economies, a vocation that was no doubt inspired by her parents who run a waste separation business.
One look at the artist’s website reveals an unbelievable amount of waste, which Wishulada has already transformed into site-installations and other magnificent creations. It includes 32kg of life jackets, 337kg of bottle caps and 111kg of fishing nets. During Milan Design Week, the Slow Hand Design exhibition will display several of the artist’s works that raise awareness on plastic pollution at The Peninsula, Bangkok, and the world.
VISIT THE SLOW HAND DESIGN EXHIBITION FROM 18-23 APRIL 2023 AT SUPERSTUDIO PIÙ (VIA TORTONA 27, 20144, MILAN / ITALY)