Environmentally-conscious creatives changing the game

From an illustration collective finding positivity in the climate crisis to a fashion designer turning excess labels into luxury garments and a design studio pondering Milan’s future in four posters, meet the people at the fore of sustainably-minded creativity.

Share

There is no one way to have a sustainable practice in this industry. Whether it’s the materials used, the message communicated, the supply chain, the zero waste policy, the circularity or the activist stance, creatives from all backgrounds are finding new ways to be more ecological when making work. No matter what their discipline, the list below is a rundown of the exciting artists, designers and makers turning heads with creative ingenuity, all in the name of change. Circling from Marrakesh, Hangzhou, Barcelona, Leicester, Milan and London, these innovators are making the industry a little greener in their own unique way and along the way, advising fellow creatives with top tips on how we can follow suit.

GalleryCopyright © No Planet No Fun, 2021

GalleryCopyright © No Planet No Fun, 2021

No Planet No Fun

The climate crisis can feel overwhelmingly depressing, so much so, that it’s often easier to not engage in the matter altogether. No Planet No fun, however, is the illustration collective approaching the topic with positivity and a hint of irony. Formed of Susie Hammer and Ro Ledesma, the two friends bonded over chat of eco-anxiety and instead of fretting further, decided to use their illustration practices to try and help the situation. Encouraging illustrators such as themselves to share what they love about our beloved (and only) planet, the collective raises awareness on important environmental issues, hosts exhibitions on climate-related work, and importantly, raises funds in support of environmental research. A passion project showing how creativity can accessibly express difficult topics, No Project No Fun is the place to visit to engage in climate change-related issues with a smile.

Above

Copyright © No Planet No Fun, 2021

What is one thing the creative industries can do to be more sustainable?

Ro Ledesma: As an illustrator, I think we should be more conscious of the kinds of materials we use in our everyday. It’s quite difficult because while I’m choosing to use biodegradable packaging for my shipments, for example, I’m also using a laptop to work, which is quite contradictory. But anyway, we should try to do everything in our hands, and take better decisions, no matter how small they are.

Susie Hammer: I think there is only one goal for all industries to achieve: circularity. Sounds super easy: reduce, reuse, produce less. We really need to give a new life to old things and re-love them. It’s very, very hard to achieve this for all but this is where creatives can help. Find a way to use what we already have, reimagine them. And of course, spreading awareness, sharing the knowledge in a digestible way is the best tool we have.

Above

Copyright © 2050+, 2021

2050+

Working across technology, environment, politics and design, 2050+ is a Milan-based studio producing thoughtful projects with an environmental focus. So far, it’s collaborated with digital think tank Slam Jam, launching the Circle which looks at Milan’s contemporary and future challenges including climate change, migration, mass tourism and urban development. Crystallised across four posters, 2050+ showcases what it does best by visually communicating the issues of climate change in a beautiful yet powerful way. Elsewhere, the studio has conceived a series of short films which explore the cartography of gemstones, designed a publication exploring physical and digital environments, and contributed to the first issue of Terraforma Journal where it reflects on its research on the relationship between sustainability and creativity. This is just a handful of the investigative projects that 2050+ have to offer, for more, have a gander through its Instagram account now.

Above

Copyright © 2050+, 2021

Mariah Esa

Fashion designer Mariah Esa is attempting to change the fashion industry from the inside with her environmentally-conscious designs. She stitches together thousands of discarded garment labels into luxury garments, a very vocal statement on the fashion industry which produces approximately 13 million tonnes of textile waste per year, 95 per cent of which could be repurposed. Based in Leicester, where the cutting edge fashion designer also grew up, innovation began early on when she would visit her parents’ garment factory and saw how much material was wasted firsthand. Mariah’s practice is not just about sustainability, however, she also weaves themes of cultural identity into the language of her garments. Imbued with her South Asian heritage, she draws on her experience as a young Muslim-Indian woman and importantly, designs her wares to make women feel empowered through the silhouette.

Above

Copyright © Mariah Esa, 2021

What is one thing the creative industries can do to be more sustainable?

Mariah Esa: It is important for people from all parts of the industry to understand the full chain of effect fashion has on our world. We need to think about the impact new products will make on our world and understand how the product has been produced. How can our projects spread awareness or make a difference to the way we live? Be open to collaborations and learn through others’ knowledge of how we can work together to create a brighter future.

Above

Copyright © Mariah Esa, 2021

Above

Copyright © Mario Tsai Studio, 2021

Mario Tsai Studio

The research-based design studio established in summer 2014 has made a name for itself for innovative thinking to create sustainable designs. Looking beyond conventional design methods, the Hangzhou-based product design studio works across installations, objects, strategies and exhibitions; each project as sensitively elegant as the next. Combining materiality, artistry and sustainability, Mario Tsai’s products lead with the material which is then underpinned by sustainable design principles allowing for an original take on modern furniture.

What is one thing the creative industries can do to be more sustainable?

Mario Tsai: I think timelessness is the most important thing, and modular design is one of the best ways to achieve the goal that our studio is doing right now.

Above

Copyright © Mario Tsai Studio, 2021

GalleryCopyright © Mario Tsai Studio, 2021

GalleryCopyright © Mario Tsai Studio, 2021

Bethany Williams

Bethany Williams isn’t your average fashion designer. Earlier this year, she was awarded the British Fashion Council and British Vogue’s Designer Fashion Fund, receiving a whopping £200,000 grant to expand her sustainable fashion brand. The London-based designer has a rather different business model amidst an industry that has one of the largest carbon footprints. For one, she partners with community-based organisations such as Making for Change, which trains and employs incarcerated women for fashion manufacturing, as well as the San Patrignano foundation in Italy, which works with people dealing with drug dependency. Her beautiful clothes are as much about community as they are haute couture, formed of recycled or upcycled textiles and designed with an impact-first approach which is rightly making the fashion industry stop and stare. Bethany’s brand is not about making vast amounts of profit, instead, it intends to grow sustainably and ethically, reinvesting in social manufacturing, recycled material development and increasing its charitable donations.

Above

Copyright © Bethany Williams, 2021

Above

Ruth Ossai x Bethany Williams x Magpie (Copyright © Bethany Williams, 2021)

What is one thing the creative industries can do to be more sustainable?

Bethany Williams: It’s difficult to think of one particular thing because there are a number of different perspectives on what it means to be sustainable. This could refer to the origin of materials being used, it could be the process in which it is manufactured, it can relate to the welfare of the people involved in the process, and it can mean the aftercare/end of life of a product. If I had to narrow this down to one thing, I would suggest that the industry ensures they take into consideration every aspect of their creative process and ensure that each choice and decision takes their impact into consideration.

LRNCE

Based in Marrakech, lifestyle brand LRNCE was founded in 2013 by Laurence Leenaert. The studio creates only locally produced work, establishing a meaningful connection with local artisans who retain the essence of Moroccan craftsmanship throughout the handmade products. Materials are revised and spontaneously combined to create uniquely designed pieces but most of all, it’s the relationship between maker and object that remains fundamental to the creative process. Producing sustainable ceramics, textiles and clothes, each and every product is rooted in Morrocan tradition. Its craftspeople respect the materials they work with, and they operate within a small and local supply chain meaning the production remains small. Nothing goes to waste and materials are reused in every possible way, from the locally made dyes to the clay and glue made from trees, Laurence describes LRNCE’s processes as near-DIY.

Response & Responsibility – Cop26

During the next two weeks, over 120 world leaders are meeting in Glasgow to agree on the actions needed to pull the earth back from the brink of a climate catastrophe. The most important conference of our lifetime, in response, we are exploring creative responses to the climate crisis throughout the duration of Cop26.

Read the full series

Share Article

About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.

jo@itsnicethat.com

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.