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Tackling waste in which others fail to see the potential

Elvis & Kresse is an environmentally motivated design practice. By environmentally motivated I mean that we exist to solve environmental problems. We started by solving London’s fire hose waste problem, and over time found more and more wastes that no one had tackled yet.

Wastes that didn’t deserve the indignity of landfill but were perhaps too niche for mainstream recycling companies to see potential in. By transforming burnt out redundant fire hose into luxury goods and accessories we have developed a reputation for alchemy.

Our fire hose success proved that we could do it, that we had just a little bit of magic in our methods; this is why our small design practice is now involved in design projects with much larger companies, ones with equally large waste problems.

Being circular should be the ultimate in design, the pinnacle that every designer aspires to achieve. But it is tricky. It also has to be commercially viable, and attractive to the elusive, fickle consumer. Our new leather reclamation project is set to achieve this, and it is something we can scale, particularly with the help of some retail heavyweights that are keen to stock and support the project.

We have been working on it for years. It has had clear, evolutionary phases, it is designed to adapt, to be re-imagined by consumers and other designers, to have a life, long past our ‘tinkering’. It will only ever be truly circular if it ceases to be ours; if it becomes yours, theirs, and then someone else’s, in some other form. It could be our best work, but we won’t know that until we lose complete control of its future. How exciting.

Maybe this is why it is going to take a while for designers to truly embrace circularity. They are trained to make something that is the best, but if you are going to be circular you are aiming for the best being yet to come.

Kresse Wesling MBE is co-founder of Elivis & Kresse and will speak on designing for circularity in the Circular Economy Connect Theatre at RWM in partnership with CIWM on 16 September at the NEC, Birmingham.

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