Style and substance

11 Nov

Today, as promised we welcome Pia Jane Bijkerk to the Conserve Delhi 2010 ideas hub. Her email came winging to us all the way from her houseboat in Amsterdam (thank heavens for the internerd I say)!

Pia is an internationally acclaimed stylist, photographer and author specializing in interiors, still life & food. She continues to use her home as her workshop and her travels as inspiration and delights in stepping off the beaten path to discover the unexpected for her clients and readers. Today she is the author and photographer of Paris: Made by HandAmsterdam: Made by Hand (June 2010), as well as the much-anticipated My Heart Wanders (2011).

Pia’s website:

1. Describe your average day as a stylist?

As a stylist, my average day consists of anything within 4 scenarios – I would either be propping (sourcing props) for an upcoming shoot; or in studio or perhaps on location for a shoot; taking borrowed props back to various boutiques and homes; or researching for my next shoot. All of these scenarios are quite different, but most of the time it means I’m traveling around the city on my bicycle like a mad woman, because being in a hurry is always something a stylist is in.

2. Do you see much waste created in your industry? What materials are likely to be thrown out at the end of a project?

Absolutely, there is a lot of waste and I find it quite frustrating. The worst is certainly food on food shoots – since it’s often necessary to make 2 or 3 versions of a recipe for just one image, there is a lot of waste. Sometimes the food stylist will try to save most of the food and split up the leftovers at the end of the day for each of the production team members to take home, and sometimes we’ll eat some of the food at lunch time. But still, there is waste that I believe can be salvaged. On interior and still life shoots, the waste often comes from carelessness with products – breakages, and over-propping.

3. You’ve written two books showcasing handmade style in Paris and Amsterdam. How do you personally define ‘handmade’ and how does it compare to upcycling?

For me objects ‘made by hand’ these days is about more than creating an object by hand, it also includes the act of restyling, restoring or reinterpreting a found object, giving it new life and new function. This includes upcycling – seeing something in a new light and giving it new use.

4. What are the most critical things you think are needed for your industry to become more sustainable?

In the food styling industry, I’d like to see a food salvage programme created – an organisation that has a schedule of food shoots around the city and goes to each shoot at the end of the day and picks up the excess food – food that is still edible would be taken to shelters, and the rest would be composted and made into soil that local people can purchase, or that is used for city gardens. In the rest of the styling industry, I’d like to see the stylists and production team members themselves take more care with over-consumption – to become aware of the unnecessary waste created on set and minimise it by being more mindful.

(Note: Great suggestions Pia. If you’re ever doing a food shoot in Melbourne you might want to check out Second Bite or Fareshare for their excess food collection services. I wonder if there are other organisations like these in cities around the world?)

5. What kind of upcycled products would you like to see made from Commonwealth Games waste?

I’d like to see Commonwealth Games waste turned into souvenir products that are made locally. I’d like to see the Commonwealth Games souvenir stores filled not with cheap, mass-produced items made overseas, but instead with items that are made locally (if possible) with product waste from the making of the Games. What are the items usually sort after and on display? I’d think about how these can be made from upcycling already existing materials.


One Response to “Style and substance”


  1. winter is definitely approaching… | pia jane bijkerk - November 17, 2010

    […] But no time to write about it. For the moment though, you might like to read my answers for this interview with Conserve […]

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