Gunda Hafner Ltd based in the United Kingdom seeks to create high quality garments produced in very limited editions locally.
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This young Latvian jewellery designer welds together an eco-conscious approach and light, effortless design, creating pieces so full of character they will spice up any wardrobe.
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"Excuse my Parisian English", he laughs, when we sit down for an interview to discuss his latest collaboration with this exclusive brand with a heritage. He tells me how he managed to merge the timeless Lalique designs with what fits today's contemporary interiors, and the beauty of seeking inspiration everywhere, especially his dreams.Read More
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Sustainability and innovation don’t always stem from new materials, but from clever solutions used in design process. Icelandic furniture manufacturer AGUSTAV is a fantastic example of how design meets innovation, with their timeless interior pieces using wood as their main material. AGUSTAV has also gone big on an environmentally conscious approach - for every item they sell, they plant trees to help boost the growth of a new forest. You give what you take - one of the main principles of circular economy model. Ágústa Magnúsdóttir, one of the founders of the brand, offered us a glimpse into AGUSTAV's world of subtle innovation paired with sustainability.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
What do you value most about interior design?
Interior design as we see it is the art of establishing a deeply-rooted connection with your surroundings and habitat. It’s sort of like nesting. It’s nesting that we sometimes do for other people.
We like to keep our lines clean and we value interior design with a solid base. As furniture makers, what we most cherish are spaces designed with a natural calm sense to them; spaces that are grounded with natural materials and allow the furniture to shake up the centre of attention.
Iceland is a place of great natural beauty. How does that come into play in your design process?
Design is just something we do, it comes naturally to us and the creation process is where we focus most of our energy. It is likely that our foundations are rooted in Icelandic nature, but it’s not something that we identify with specifically. The Icelandic hardness is embedded in our DNA and it’s probably something that moves within us and influences us, without us attempting it per se. We use the nature to get away more than we do [use nature] during the process itself. It’s our safe haven where we catch our breaths and regain our stamina after busy periods at the workshop.
People are looking for new, innovative ways of creating staple furnishing pieces. What is your approach to innovation and how do you apply innovative methods?
We have always been more interested in the innovation element of creation than the actual 'design' part. To us every thing is designed. In one way or another, intentionally or not, everything is designed. Whether it’s innovative, functional or even useful, is another element and those elements happen to attract our interest even more. We strive to make our items functional and useful; yet we would like them to be innovative and we ground all these things in our perception of aesthetic appeal.
I have to ask about your infamous book rack - what inspired you when creating it?
The book rack came to be when we still lived in Copenhagen. Initially, when we moved in together, we lived in a very small and crooked apartment. We desperately needed space and a place to put our things away (whatever that thing was). The book rack sprung from our original design of the coat rack. We were looking at ways to utilise the same rack system in more ways and the book rack jumped right at us from that process.
Finally, how does AGUSTAV follow principles of sustainability? Why is it important to you and the consumer?
The environmental issues the world is facing today are very scary and very real. It’s extremely important that everyone does what they can to contribute to the environment, to reduce their waste and think wisely about their purchases. These elements are key to our process, our creations are centred around the fact that we want our items to last. We create high-end quality furniture and encourage our customers to choose wisely before buying, we create our furniture to last and hope that they will be passed down to generations to come. We don’t see beauty in buying one thing today and replacing it with whatever comes out in the next seasonal catalogue. We buy once and hold on to [it] forever.
As to sustainability, we use every piece of wood we get hold of in the workshop and do our best to minimise waste. If we can’t see use for the cut-offs, we’ll give them away to projects that can make use of them. Additionally, we strive to give a little back by planting a tree for each item we sell.
Find AGUSTAV furniture here.
B·COME is an ethical fashion studio and sustainable supplier agency located in Barcelona. We believe that sustainable fashion and green design is the future. We build strong professional relationships between suppliers, artisans, and brands. Our aim is to endeavor for ALL us to be the protagonist of the change. Our main job implies to discover. Discovering and travelling is, without a doubt, what we truly love.
- Alba Garcia and Anna Cañadell, B·COME Studio
How did you discover Treasury rugs? Describe your journey to India and discovering the rugs.
India is almost like our second home. Every two months we land into this wonderful destination filled with culture, colours and emotional sensations. Chance and luck often accompany us on our trips. During one of our trips, precisely, was where we found these treasures in the form of rugs. We were exploring the enchanting corners of Jaipur and we spontaneously decided to visit one of our supplier whom we had encountered at a fair in Delhi. Our first sensation when we saw the rugs was an instant crush, we felt "in love”. The harmony between the colour the detailed technique of each rug caught our attention. It was then when B ·COME´s first more personal project “A by B ·COME” was born.
What makes them unique?
The rugs are authentic and unique, as they are made by hand by passionate and loving artisans. Each rug has its own story and uniqueness to it. The subtlety of colors and the energy of the piece, reciting the country it comes from, is just fascinating. They aren't simply objects of home decor, but treasures from India that you could keep forever and, only by looking at them, instantly feel the energy of the country.
What are the main techniques used and what puts an artisanal quality stamp on it?
"A by B· COME " rugs are made by a traditional Indian technique known as block print. It is the earliest and slowest process of textile printing due to its detailed designs, which are often impossible to recreate with other printing methods. Yet, it remains one of the most vivid techniques in India today.
Originally from Rajasthan, India, the method consists of creating their own carved wood designs that are later covered with colour and printed onto fabrics and paper by hand. The result is an imperfect art endowed with intention, emotion, and virtue. Each piece of block-printed fabric reflects the rich history of an ancient tradition, as well as the unique style of the artisans who made it.
Why is the heritage of traditional skills, like block print, important? Why we should help to preserve and cherish these skills and traditions deriving from India?
For B ·COME, quality and design are as important as the way things are made. Our main objective is to strive and empower all to become protagonists of change. We admire the work of artisans all around the world.
Even though technology has opened a wide door to opportunities to create new solutions and facilitate the production process, we are captivated by the life and work of artisans. Their imperfect artisanal products that have a whole story behind surprise ourselves every time we travel. We are excited to get to know about unique textile techniques, especially when those techniques have a whole history behind, such as block print.
When you see HOW and WHY in the first person, you understand and respect craftsmanship as an art. You create a close relationship with the people who have made it, and when they so passionately explain how things are done, you cannot help yourself to fall in love.
What are the main themes and stories running through the artisanal, handcrafted rug line?
For us, the thread is driver of colour, the sensitivity in the use of it. There are styles for all, but all of the rugs breathe serenity, subtlety, and stillness.
Our short story of “A by B ·COME “. From the small corners of India, our treasury rugs learn to fly through the deep blue sea. Lola, their flying lecturer is a world-traveller seeking to find beauty in artisanal objects around the planet. The treasury rugs love her, they want to embrace her and never leave her. Nevertheless, they know they have to undertake a trip in order to accomplish their mission. Along their journey, the rugs were amazed by the wonders of the universe, they observed unknown destinations and fulfilled themselves with experiences.
Behind each rug is a hidden story full of extraordinary moments. From the way they were brought to life, to their flying experience, as of course they had to rest in order to recover and arrive to their destination. They are seeking to find themselves a place where they can feel as home and offer their love as they did with Lola. But from time to time, you must let her fly!
What spaces could benefit from having a Treasury rug? What are their place and meaning in the interior the way you imagine it?
We believe that the space is determined by the personality and taste of each individual. Each rug will attract a different person according to its character and taste. We believe that having a Treasury rug could benefit spaces where they go beyond being perceived as interior objects, but as pieces that can bring back memories, tradition and history.
We imagine the rugs in spaces with delicate lights, neutral or with color, kitchens, bathrooms, rooms, small and big, living rooms. We have different sizes for the rugs to adjust to everyone. The smallest one of 0,90 X 0,60m is a perfect measure to give a touch of color and personality to a room or a closet.
We also have a big size of 1,20 X 1,50m where we imagine wide spaces which help to create amplitude and contrasts. Finally, we have the large rugs of 3,00 x 2,00 meters that we imagine in large outer spaces and terraces.
We adore contrasts. Treasury rugs create story according to current events and serve as a product with ethical values that goes beyond pure aesthetics.
How do these rugs stand in line with B·Come's hard work so far advocating sustainability principles and transparency?
A by B·COME is completely aligned with B·COME´s philosophy. Since the moment we saw them, we understood and lived the art of block print in first person, namely, the conditions of the workers and the products used to make this art happen. The Treasury rugs are made with a noble cotton base, the color dye used is toxic free, and the technique is performed only in solar time, in fact, this technique is conditioned by atmospheric conditions.
Tell us a good reason, what makes an artisanal rug worth having in the first place?
As mentioned previously, block print is more than a technique, it's an art. We believe that having Treasury rugs for our project A by B ·COME is more than having an interior design object, but a story to complement your house, studio, your life.
Our mission is to transmit the essence of the country through treasures from India. In this case, the rugs become a piece of art or a memory, in which you know that every time you would look at it will remind you of the beautiful and fruitful county India is. We have selected different designs and patterns to allow people to choose according to their taste, personality and energy.
How can we get hold of one of your selected rugs?
For the moment, we are still looking and studying the best method to allow every person in the world to have access to our treasury rugs. For now, the orders can be directly done via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org at B·COME.
We are in the process of selecting unique concept stores, who have a similar philosophy as B·COME.
We would love to mention Rita Puig Serra, a young and aspiring photographer based in Barcelona. As without her, her eye and camera we could not bring the essence and image of A by B·COME to live.
One of my favourite things about ethical fashion is how it urges creators to think outside of the box and be innovative in their entire design process. LUCKYNELLY’s animal-friendly ethos focuses on bold, elevated everyday luxury accessories. Made in Berlin, yet produced in Milan, LUCKYNELLY is challenging the norm of sustainability. From bags to jewellery to silk scarves - yes, even including touches of ethical silk! - their everyday goodies are true show-stoppers. Christine Rochlitz, founder of LUCKYNELLY, shared her take on slow design accessories.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
Your entire brand focuses deeply on ethical creation. What do you value most about sustainable design?
For me, sustainable design means a slower approach [to creating] where no mass consumption principles are implemented. I remember when I was a teenager, there was a denim store near my hometown. I loved to wear super skinny denim from Levi’s and, at this time, they were already quite expensive. I had one pair in blue and one in black. I wore them for a few years and was always so proud of my jeans.
Today, with all those big fast fashion chains, you don’t have the opportunity to ‘love’ your clothes because fashion and new trends change too fast, and it leaves you forever with an unsatisfactory feeling. Quality should really be more important than quantity. As Vivienne Westwood put it: 'Buy less, choose well, make it last.'
What's your take on slow living?
Slow living to me means that you focus more on things that are really important in life, like being happy, spending time with family and friends or pets, being outside, and spending time cooking. People are living at a fast pace every day, so they are always overwhelmed and their lives are non-stop, chaotic. I think it is time to enjoy life more and to flee of all this pressure.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Nature inspires me the most. There are so many beautiful creatures and plants in absolutely fantastic colors and structures - for example, the Rose Chafer. For the Peace Silk Scarves [collection] I was inspired by images I took of flowers with my Canon Cam, and changed the colours and layers. But also my materials inspire me - working with things such as the genuine wood material, which is easy to work with, and the slate stone.
What is LUCKYNELLY's vision towards a sustainable future?
The vision of LUCKYNELLY is that people buy more carefully, thinking of where the clothes come from and if an animal or human had to die or suffer to create it, and truly act upon it. LUCKYNELLY also aims to demonstrate that vegan alternatives to animal leather are luxurious, fashionable, and fair-trade.
You can buy LUCKYNELLY accessories here.
Interview with Anneliese Hauptstein, Designer and Director of Ice from Ash
What led to your interest in crafting zero waste jewellery?
My degree in Industrial Design exposed me to the reality of our consumer culture, the devastating condition of our environment and the unfortunate division of designing from crafting. Where once a designer was a maker and an expert in their material, the methods and forms, now the focus has shifted to the market, the machine and the bottom line. I chose instead to follow my passion for the materials themselves. I did a PhD in Materials Science and started my own studio exploring and experimenting with the most interesting materials and processes I could find. I keep it small, slow and local, working with natural materials and striving to make the best design choices I can, such as using recycled packaging and branding my own boxes.
What materials are you using?
My latest love is ceramics. I have a little kiln and I have been experimenting with melting silver wire works into ceramic pieces.
I am constantly looking into new processes and materials and weighing their pro-s and cons, whether that be the sustainability of the resource, the ethics of manufacture, or the energy in transport. I use a lot of silver, because it’s strong, durable, lovely to work with and recyclable. I use some leather, usually Kangaroo, as it is local, compostable and abundant. I have also started making pieces using mushroom and kombucha leather as a vegan alternative.
What does the whole process look like from the idea to actual pieces taking shape? What's the most difficult aspect of the making part?
I have a collection of little notebooks with research on subjects as varied as the Kikuchi patterns of crystals to evidence of aliens in ancient decoration. I add notes and sketches as I come across information that follows the tread. There is always a focus on the materials I could use and the techniques for making, so at some point this starts to take shape in the form of designs. I never really know how a piece will turn out when I sit down, but I do a lot of planning.
I find the most difficult part is staying true to the concept and not getting distracted by other ideas as I’m making. I work with other artisans to work out techniques and I try to make a lot of the decisions about materials, chains, clasps, shapes and construction before I sit down.
Who or what inspires you the most? Do you use any symbolism?
I am inspired by the various ways people from all over the world tell stories. The written languages themselves, of course, but also pictorial illustration, such as cave paintings, carvings, patterns and especially tattoos. I have had a fascination with tattooing for long time and love finding the hidden meanings in the assembly of images. The intersection of mythology and science also fascinates me. My newest pieces refer to the flow of matter and energy from one state to another, starting with a sound and transitioning through the 5 elements of earth, wind, fire, water and ether. To me this is the oldest story.
Why is the synergy of nature and more material human world important to you?
Something fundamental changed when humans started creating their own materials and I feel it is very important for us to take full responsibility for the consequences of those choices and educate others to do the same. We can choose to surround ourselves with objects that are functional, durable, sustainable and desirable. In that way we will look after and respect the things we purchase.
What defines good quality in jewellery design?
Quality to me is about a few things. How it makes me feel, how well it works on the body and how well it is made for its purpose. To me it is about artistic expression, cultural connection and personal style.
What's the meaning of the name, 'Ice from Ash'?
It refers to a process of transformation and alchemy, transitioning from one element to another in a way that goes against what we take to be possible, as if by magic.
What are your personal tips to a more meaningful lifestyle and how to get into a habit of consuming less?
Consuming to fulfill needs is just a mindset we have been taught. To change this habit we need to find fulfillment from within instead, in our actions, relationships, environment and ideas. Consuming in itself is not evil, objects are essential, we just need to learn to be mindful when we take something and kind when we give it back.
To WIN this gorgeous hand-made jewellery piece, follow @savant_magazine AND @icefromash on Instagram and comment #SavantGiveaway under the photo above.
Ice from Ash 'Wave Pendant'
Toneware with a Sea Urchin imprint, glazed with a handmade pumice and iron oxide blend and finished with a little sterling silver spot.
Sterling silver fittings and chain.
Packaged in a recycled card box.
Valued at $250AUD.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
Established back in 2012, Italian fashion-forward accessories brand OOD proves that 'slow' in fashion is not all about dedication to radical ethical principles and conscious consumption, but also about innovation and thinking outside of the box.
Father-daughter-duo, Marcello and Marta Antonelli, were looking for an alternative, yet trendy solution to replace leather in accessories design. Drawing their inspiration from python skin, they found that wood was the way of future in crafting memorable pompous luxury items important in every woman's wardrobe. Thus, Ligneah was created — a versatile hand-made soft wood material used to make innovative textiles.
OOD specialises in using their own natural tissue, Ligneah, to create stunning bags and colourful accessories. Their latest collection is inspired by Greek mythology — a beautiful way to honour the material that has been a source of livelihood for mankind throughout the ages. Why wood, you ask? It is a resource that combines all elements a sustainable designer desires. Wood is eco-friendly, natural, biodegradable, cruelty free, and has a high-end look. It doesn’t matter which type of tree you use (selected by Greenpeace standards, naturally), the results are always living up to the moment.
Marcello and Marta follow every possible ethical principle du jour, when creating and designing for OOD, and paving way to the future of exciting, innovative materials. With a traceable and sustainable production process, they make sure every item is made with love and care. Although they can create 200 bags and 150 shoes from a single tree, the brand is dedicated to proving that ‘sustainability is not just a fashion word’. OOD is partnered with Tree-Nation and supports its reforestation projects by planting a tree for every item purchased. So you do not only make a unique, stylish choice when wearing OOD, but you naturally help to make a good deed, too.