An ingenious Barcelona company churns out fashion statements from trash.
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 www.qi-global.com or e-mail email@example.com (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.