In 2019 the Greek NGO: Institute Team for the World approached me to design a collection of accessories from reclaimed vinyl banners. Vinyl banners are single use and non-recyclable. They are used across Athens by many institutions such as museums and concert halls normally to advertise exhibitions and events. They are also used in great quantities at specific times of year such as during the Marathon. The goal of this initiative is to reclaim as many of the discarded banners as possible so as to avoid them ending up in landfill sites. The personnel employed to construct the bags are refugees who have sought asylum in Greece. The greater the success of the initiative the more banners upcycled, but it also means the more revenue gained, the more refugees will be employed as the project expands.
Clients include The Herakleidon Museum in Athens (photographed below). Used banners are given to the NGO, the bags then created are sold in the museum gift shop, thus enabling the museum to upcycle and sell its own banners.
The waterproof teflon-like nature of both the opaque and mesh materials used to make the banners inspired me to design beach bags (that can also be used as carrier bags), wash bags (for toiletries) and sports bags. I also designed a conference style folder. In the construction of the products I have used folding techniques normally used working with paper, in order to create opening, closing and folding designs. The advantage of this is the design avoids the use of any glue and uses minimal plastic trimmings.I have designed pockets that do not need any trimmings whatsoever. All threads used are cotton.
Through my exploration in design development I decided that for the smaller accessories in particular I wanted to work with the materials on the reverse where there is no print. This means that the product exhibits a subtle translucent colour in juxtaposition with white where I use both banner materials on the reverse. For the larger bags where a larger surface area is covered, this subtlety is lost, and I therefore designed those using the printed side of the banner. This however means that there is no consistency in the print design that will be allocated to each bag (colour and surface pattern). As every banner had an entirely different print, so too, every bag, even if cut from the same design, will take on an entirely different appearance. So there is a 'randomness' to these designs.