Archive | October, 2010

Conserve India at the Handicraft Fair

25 Oct

Managed to get out to the Conserve India stalls at Asia’s largest handicraft and gift fair on the last day. It was close to the warehouse I’d visited while on the hunt for Commonwealth Games waste (more on that soon).

Conserve had two stalls showcasing products to wholesale buyers – one was for accessories and one focussed on their homeware range. We’re keen to post more pictures of the Conserve product range: if you’d like to see them?

Till then, here are a couple of quick snaps from the fair – I’m a fan of the rugs (made out of plastic scraps and fabric offcuts).

Conserve at the India Handicraft and Gift Fair three

Conserve at the India Handicraft and Gift Fair

Conserve at the India Handicraft and Gift Fair


‘Where it’s at…

20 Oct

…I got two turntables and a microphone.

There’s a destination a little up the road

from the habitations and the towns we know.’

Beck: flushed and sweaty, looking for trash on a hot, flat highway.

We know how he feels. Tomorrow I’m heading out to Noida to check out what might be the strongest lead yet in our race to catch Games waste. Fingers crossed, people. Fingers. Crossed.

Noida is almost a satellite city mushrooming with outsourcing centres, automobile manufacturing and a media hub on the South-Eastern fringe of Delhi (it’s really quite a bit more than ‘a little up the road’).

And beyond it lies Greater Noida – a similarly industrial ‘city of the future’ – and also where it’s at for the Conserve India office team. They’ve been showcasing Conserve’s products at Asia’s largest handicraft and giftware tradeshow.

Trust me – it’s huge.

Conserve India Handicraft Fair Invite2010 Conserve India Handicraft Fair Invite

‘Bottles and cans and just clap your hands…’

Closing ceremony exclusive…

16 Oct Rahul with Gold messenger bag at Games Athletics

As those of you on facebook and twitter will recall, we did promise you some exclusive footage taken during the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony…and here it is!

Yep, my housemate, Ekta, and I watched it on TV. But we did hear the fireworks going off from our flat. Ekta was lucky to receive two guest passes to the Games through her work.

So we sent Christina and Jenna along as a bit of a thumbs up for all the hard work they’ve put in as interns for Conserve India. There was one condition – they had to take photos, lots of photos.

Here are just a few we thought we’d share…

Aerostat at the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

Aerostat balloon lit up at the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

Christina at the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

Christina at the world's largest blue light disco

Jenna at the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

Jenna shows us what she thinks of the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

…but the real highlight of the Games for us was watching the amazing Indian women’s 4×400 metre relay win last Tuesday night…

Indian 4x400m gold medallists

Indian Women's 4x400m gold medallists

We captured the last lap on video – the crowd was deafening…

As Jenna (in true Californian style) said, ‘Man, that was tight!’

Our neighbour, Rahul thought so too, even offering to model our messenger bag for us in the spirit of celebration…

Rahul with Gold messenger bag at Games Athletics

Rahul shows off the Gold messenger bag in the Athletics crowd

Most definitely a stand out memory from these Games.

Will we pull off an upcycling win like India’s relay runners?

We’re winding our way through a mad maze of meetings, phone calls and Hindi hold music to do just that. Stay tuned, dear readers, the Games ain’t over yet…

Studiously Social

13 Oct

Another hot, yet productive, day here in Delhi. We’re making progress on accessing Games waste as the event draws to a close. Tonight Jenna, Christina and myself (Liz) made the trip to see the athletics events – it was tough getting tickets as they’re selling like hotcakes now. Yep, we even crossed the rainbow pedestrian bridge – that collapsed and was rebuilt by the army in under a week – into the impressive Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

I hope to post a few photos from the venue, but first I wanted to introduce you to a special series of interviews we’ve undertaken for the Conserve Delhi 2010 project. We’ve gone out to various professionals – from events managers to social entrepreneurs and creatives – seeking their thoughts on this initiative. We hope to make this blog an open source ideas hub, elevating and celebrating the art of upcycling.

Raphael Kilpatrick is a board member of Melbourne’s Social Studio, a social enterprise working with the city’s refugee community to create fashionwear out of recycled and excess manufacturing materials. Raphael is also the Social Studio’s resident web and audiovisual guru. We recommend the short video capturing the Social Studio’s first collection.

1. You helped establish the Social Studio. What were some of the challenges overcome in setting up this initiative?

The Social Studio began, as all challenges do, with an idea. The seed was the many barriers faced by newly arrived members of the community, things like isolation and difficulties accessing education and training. The aim was to tackle these problems by creating jobs, providing education, encouraging community engagement and social inclusion.

So the obvious idea, from the founding directors, was that we start a fashion school! This seemed completely mad at the time, but it turned out that our collective minds were not so mad.

The Social Studio has had the ability to break down most of the barriers we identified. The cutting table offers a place for our young designers to share stories and learn from one another. The café and retail front brings the public into the studio to share in this bonding while also creating jobs and training.

There is also a need in the Australian fashion industry for experienced designers and makers, so our graduates have all moved on into jobs. I guess the first major challenge was seeing the potential of an idea.


Social Studio lookbook image

Image courtesy of the Social Studio Lookbook


2. Like Conserve India, The Social Studio is an organisation described as a ‘social enterprise’. How would you define this term, and are we seeing an increase in such organisations?

I feel that innate in all people is a sense to do ‘good’ and that given the chance most people would extend this to assist others. One of the things that perhaps restricts people to pursue this desire is a feeling of hopelessness when faced with the question: how? I think there is definitely an increase in social enterprises and, as they spread, so does the knowledge of how to set one up. By their nature they are open and sharing organisations not driven by a need to protect their financial bottom line.

3. What are the main types of materials used at the Social Studio and what are the main processes you use to upcycle them into new fashion items?

The Social Studio gathers fabrics, samples and unsold stock from the local fashion industry and our amazing young designers turn them into the most beautiful clothing, in fact we are just about to release our second collection. It’s all brand new clothing from fabric that would otherwise have gone to landfill. We also offer weekend workshops to the public to teach people how to modify their old clothes. Again its about sharing the knowledge and passing on the good.

4. We love the minimalism of your website, who did you work with to create this? Conserve India is investigating an e-commerce solution to sell their products online – are there any plans for Social Studio to do something similar?


Social Studio's Raphael Kilpatrick

The Social Studio's Raphael Kilpatrick


Gee thanks. The website started as a blank page and slowly grew. The web is a wonderful place for social enterprises because people love to share. There are dozens of sites that offer tools to build your own webpage, mailing lists, forms etc. We will eventually have an online store but for now stocking the shop and pedal powered retail is keeping us busy.

5. Have you ever upcycled waste material from a major event? what do you think about this idea?

This is a really exciting prospect. The first fabric we received at The Social Studio were hundreds of really good quality red cotton t-shirts with a large print on the front. Each one had been deliberately slashed with an X to stop them being re-sold so we worked out a way to turn them into durable shopping bags with a strap and then sold them to raise money for a local aid organisation.

6. What kind of upcycled fashion items would you like to see made from Commonwealth Games waste?

I know vinyl banners have been used to make satchel bags for many years now but the potential is huge. These are really large pieces of durable waterproof material that could be used in anything from umbrellas to waterproofing on houses. It’s tough for me to suggest alternate uses for material because India is the most cleverly resourceful country I have every been to.

An environmental gold?

8 Oct Upcycled Commonwealth Games messenger bags at Qtub Minar

Remember our race to catch waste from a Commonwealth Games media event? And how we journeyed to a distant sorting depot all in the name of upcycling?

Well, dear readers, this is where it all ended up – those muddy vinyl banners really scrubbed up well as a tote and messenger bags didn’t they?

Upcycled Commonwealth Games messenger bags at Qtub Minar

Our bags in Balban's Tomb enclosure, near Qtub Minar: we like durable constructions.

When Jake arrived in Delhi last weekend we quickly organised a few locations we thought might make suitable backdrops for our products.

So, while people were gathering at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the Games opening ceremony on Sunday, we went to the park.

But this is no ordinary park: the Archeological Park – near the Qutb Minar Complex – is full of ancient and medieval monuments and tombs, some dating back around 800 years. It’s a lush, green and restful place, enjoyed by many visitors, such as…

Girls modelling the Commonwealth Games bags in the park

Girls volunteering to model our bags in the park

…a group of young ladies who chased after us to be in a photo (or two or three or…). Then we found a friendly cricketer willing to take time out from the game to model our messenger bag…

Cricketer models messenger bag in the park

It's a six! Cricketer models messenger bag in the park

…He’s no twelfth man (we didn’t have time to catch his name as he was straight back to the game – what a marvellous player!)…

And look who we found on his way to the Games…

Games volunteer with Commonwealth Games upcycled bag

Salman, our Games volunteer, volunteering to model with our bag

Salman, one of thousands of Delhi’s Commonwealth Games volunteers (also quite marvellous), kindly stopped to sport our Games messenger bag on his shoulder for a while. We dig the way his uniform brightens up the bag.

The following day (Monday 5th October), we took the bags to one of the first day’s events – a men’s team gymnastics medal session.

At first we weren’t sure we’d get past security, especially with all Jake’s equipment. (These guys were serious, they even confiscated a Aussie 5c coin wedged in a corner of my wallet)…

Christina getting through Games security

Christina flanked by Games security guards

…But we managed to arrive at the very swish Indira Gandhi Stadium just in time to cheer the Australian men’s gymnastic team as they took out a gold medal…

Cheering the Australian Men's gymnastic team at Delhi 2010

Cheering the Australian Men's gymnastic team at Delhi 2010

…and look who we found cheering as well – family members of gymnast, Thomas Pichler: his mum, Sylvia Pichler and wife, Andrea Rummele. After a bit of explaining, they very graciously offered to pose in a photo for us. Sylvia mentioned how her son trains for thirty-five hours a week, as well as making an income and trying to complete university studies (we wonder how he does it?) as apparently gymnastics doesn’t attract a lot of sponsorship.

The ladies were quite enthusiastic about the bags; Sylvia runs a sportswear business and has an eye for a marketable product. Both women were interested in purchasing the bags – how’s that for a bit of positive market feedback!…

Aussie gymnast's mum and wife model the bags

Aussie gymnast's mum and wife modelling the bags

…we had a fantastic time with Jake and wish him well re-settling back in New York (and we have more of his great photos to share with you soon).

But for now our focus is on the hunt for waste directly from the Games (remember our goal is to establish the Delhi Games as the first major event to upcycle event waste)…with only 4 days left, the race for catching waste is truly on here in Delhi…

Another late night update…

8 Oct

Spent a large chunk of today talking to journalists. We’re hoping they’ll help us tell the project story through more traditional channels – like the newspaper (remember that papery thingy?)

In the meantime I wanted to do a quick little post on another photographer friend of mine – Katrin Koenning. I tried coaxing her over to India to document our project but she was just too busy with her work and is currently in London for an exhibition of her images. I think they’re fantastic shots, don’t you agree?


Image courtesy of Katrin Koenning

Image courtesy of Katrin Koenning


Katrin calls her series “Thirteen:Twenty Lacuna” and explains: “I came across this place in the (Melbourne) CBD where light reaches it directly for only twenty minutes a day, around lunchtime. During these few minutes a transformation happens – faces are illuminated, dust twirls through rays of sun, cigarette smoke becomes an almost glistening silver blue against dark buildings.

“It’s a ‘mis en scene’, a theatre stage on which people become my protagonists for an instant. Here, every minute detail counts … everything ordinary turns into something extraordinary, begging me to have my eyes wide open.”


Thirteen: twenty lacunae

Image courtesy of Katrin Koenning


If you’re in the United Kingdom perhaps you might like to drop in and to check out her work at the Front Room Gallery in Clerkenwell, London.

We’re always on the lookout for talented photographers, and we’d be particularly keen to work with an Indian professional – anyone have any contacts they’d like to share?

More on our Games product adventures soon…

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