De­mano bags

An in­ge­nious Barcelona com­pany churns out fashion state­ments from trash.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By LEONG SIOK HUI star2­green@thes­

PUT cre­ative, eco-con­scious folk in the de­sign cap­i­tal of Spain and you get stylish eco prod­ucts like De­mano. Hand­made in Barcelona, the funky range of prod­ucts – from mes­sen­ger bags and totes to iPad and iPhone sleeves – are up­cy­cled from used fes­ti­val and mu­seum banners or trac­tion kites (used for kitesurf­ing).

The prod­ucts are made out of 100% UV re­sis­tant and wa­ter­proof PVC (polyvinyl chlo­ride), polyester or tear-proof rip-stop ma­te­rial.

Each item is fash­ioned to show­case the pop art or type­face de­signs of some of Europe’s top de­sign­ers and graphic artists. Through De­mano’s on­line shop, you can choose spe­cific banners, say the Grec 2009 (Barcelona’s Sum­mer Fes­ti­val) ban­ner, to make your tote. Hence each prod­uct is one-of-a-kind.

Be­fore De­mano, old banners and bill­boards ended up in land­fills once the events were over. In 1999, Lil­iana An­drade, Marcela Man­rique and Eleonora Para­chini had a flash of in­spi­ra­tion – why not cre­ate some­thing out of this waste? As they say, one man’s trash is an­other’s trea­sure.

“Our ini­tial chal­lenge was to find a mar­ket for our new idea and then de­velop a small col­lec­tion,” say An­drade and Man­rique in an e-mail in­ter­view. As ar­chi­tects, these women deem re­cy­cling as an in­trin­sic process within de­sign. Liv­ing in eco-friendly Barcelona helps, too. The city’s green ur­ban plan­ning pri­ori­tises pedes­trian-friendly boule­vards and boasts an ex­cel­lent bike-shar­ing sys­tem, a hy­dro­gen bus pi­lot pro­gramme, ef­fi­cient waste man­age­ment and use of re­new­able en­ergy. The Cat­alo­nian cap­i­tal was re­cently voted as a fi­nal­ist for the Euro­pean Green Cap­i­tal Award for 2012 and 2013 (the award show­cases role mod­els for green cities around Europe).

“Our in­spi­ra­tion comes from ev­ery­day life, look­ing at what peo­ple use and throw. Al­most ev­ery­thing has a sec­ond life,” says An­drade.

In 2005, De­mano signed an agree­ment with the city coun­cil, the Cul­tural In­sti­tute of Barcelona and other or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art of Barcelona and the Cen­tre for Con­tem­po­rary Cul­ture to have ex­clu­sive use of their old ad­ver­tis­ing banners.

De­mano’s man­u­fac­tur­ing process, work­place and em­ploy­ees’ per­sonal lives re­flect the com­pany’s en­vi­ron­men­tal phi­los­o­phy.

“It’s our chal­lenge to en­cour­age our team and per­sons re­lated to us in any as­pects to fol­low sus­tain­able prac­tices,” say the founders. “We also have a blog where we con­stantly post ideas on an eco-friendly planet.” The com­pany has clinched sev­eral awards, in­clud- ing the De­sign for Re­cy­cling Award 2003; its founders have been named the 2010 Fe­male En­tre­pre­neur of the Year for Ecol­ogy.

But the De­mano folk are not gloat­ing just yet. “Our chal­lenge is to make De­mano prod­ucts fit the cra­dle-to-cra­dle de­sign cri­te­ria,” say the founders. (This cri­te­ria elim­i­nate the con­cept of waste and pro­mote de­sign that en­cour­ages the re­cy­cla­bil­ity of the prod­uct for fu­ture uses.) One thing’s for sure, De­mano is get­ting the thumbs-up from eco­fash­ion­istas.

n De­mano bags are avail­able in Singapore at: echo @ Whee­lock Place (02-12, Or­chard Road); and To­tally Hot Stuff (0313, The Cathay). Prices range from S$39 (RM93.60) for a wal­let to S$79 (RM430) for a mes­sen­ger bag. You can also buy them on­line at or e-mail il­lu­mi­ (free ship­ping to Malaysia).

New uses: Stacks of used banners in De­mano’s work­shop wait­ing to be cut, shaped and sewn into funky mes­sen­ger bags or totes. – Pic­tures cour­tesy of De­mano

Stylish hand­bag, mes­sen­ger bags and pan­niers, and tote bag – all made from used banners.

In­stead of end­ing up in a land­fill, these fes­ti­val or event banners in Barcelona are up­cy­cled into chic totes or mes­sen­ger bags.

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