So let us introduce ourselves and our story of how we got abitslow…
Michelle | Interior Designer
Going back to my roots
Growing up on construction sites has its benefits. While other kids were at camp, in daycare or spending time with one or other of their parents, I got to be with both of mine, at work with dad who’s a tiler. We’d spend the day sorting through slate (very “in” during the late 80s and early 90s), planning tile patterns, searching for fossils, laughing and having a good time, so I guess it was inevitable that I would end up working in the industry, albeit as a designer instead of a tradesman.
When I think back on those times the main aspects that stand out to me are the fact that it was family time even though it was work, and the care with which we selected the pieces of stone, placing major fossils and features near entrances and living areas, planning every aspect of the floor. Besides this being a good representation of conscious craftsmanship, it is also a show of slow design, where the end product has a story. This house that is not my own, that I have no connection to at all except for the memories it provided, has become a part of my story as well as being integral to the family who now resides there. This is the epitome of slow, where not only the end user, but the craftsman and in this case his family have all gained from the experience.
It followed, quite naturally, that I entered the tile industry as a rep. and design consultant, rising through the ranks to store manager, architectural rep and finally followed my passion to university and entered the world of interiors. Throughout these years I’ve seen a multitude of cookie cutter homes, all of which could be tear outs from an issue of Vogue living. What a shame that we’re afraid to express ourselves and our personalities in the one place where we should truly feel most ourselves. While I work as a sustainable designer (which really just means responsible design – where the environment and our impact upon it are a part of the design process), I still find it difficult to impart the core values of Slow design.
I’ve now started designing simple re-use furniture pieces, and have undertaken my first completely slow design project – both of which will take me back to my roots, renew my connection with craftsmanship, and encourage others to be A Bit Slow.
Basia | Graphic Designer
My earliest memories reflect a keen interest in the creative process. As a child, the moment a pencil reached my grasp, I’d promptly fill page after page with imaginary figures and organic patterns. This continued throughout high school and it follows, that the logical next step in my creative development was to undertake visual communications at UTS. Here, my appreciation of design expanded to encompass not only aesthetic aspects, but also the profound ability of design to influence the perceptions, behaviours and lived experiences of an audience.
Being personally connected to my spiritual side through nature – I found a strong resonance with the issue of sustainability and investigated how could I make a difference with design. I saw merit in giving users a visual experience and letting them come to terms with the issue at hand through play. This (also known as experiential advertising) could be an educational tool to enhance one’s knowledge and skills in areas of sustainable living.
Now If design is my foremost passion, travel is a close second. Perhaps most creatively and personally awakening have been my trips to Mexico, Cuba, Bolivia, and India. I marvelled at the generous and joyous states of being shown by individuals without access to the material world as we know it.
I questioned the origin of happiness. I observed in these countries, that a deep sense of gratitude for the nuances and blessings of everyday life was ever present, and ever accompanied by an aura of inner peace and happiness. I have also observed the continual dissatisfaction that amounts from the pursuit of material or ego aspirations with ever increasing goal posts whilst all along missing the real true joy and fulfilment all around them everyday.
These experiences and my professional development have culminated in a strong belief in mindfulness and present moment awareness and thus, an interest in slow deign.
Slow design promotes contemplation, an expanded state of awareness, accountability for daily actions and the potential for a richer spectrum of experience for individual and communities. Its ability to reveal elements of everyday life that are often missed, forgotten or overlooked is something of true value to our lives. And designing with this in mind may pave the way to a society which engages in sustainable, conscientious living; and help us arrive to our true desired states of inner joy and peace.
My grandfather was a simple man, simple and proud man, the one thing he was most proud of was his days a builder and a foreman. He used to talk about the buildings that he built with great love and satisfaction, describing how he would throw more steel rods than needed into the foundations, walls and ceilings of the insitu concrete structure, to make them stronger, to last longer, and his buildings still do.
Since my first semester of my studies I was drawn to the concept of sustainability, what it means,and what is the true value of sustainability in the architecture sense? There is no strait forward answer. I have learnt much and was inspired by many, from the Bio-Climatic architecture of Ken Yeang to the passion and design approach of Glenn Murcutt, and yet there is so much more to learn.
Being part of ‘a bit slow’ is another way for me to learn from and explore with other talented and capable designers. to be able to reinforce my holistic and collaborative approach to design, where architects , engineers, consultants, clients and communities comes together to achieve something greater.
Slow to me is not just about doing things slower, but doing things which are meaningful, responsible, with care, passion and love. Like my grandfather want to be able to look back and be proud about what I was able to create, but mostly be proud about what I was able to contribute and give to others.
Sabina | Industrial Designer
The Importance of Being Handmade
With a background in industrial, for a long time my conscience was not at peace. Industrial/ Product design teaches you about making products fast and cheap. Yes they do also teaches us to ‘try’ and lessen the environmental impact of our products but at the end of the day we industrial designers want to design products which will make an impact on people’s lives and leave them wanting better and newer as we provide it, all hail the infamous apple products.
In this fast paced world even those that start off with a conscience end up selling their souls to the ‘big guy’ to make more and earn more. Being still young and having no need to sell my soul just yet I’ve decided that however small my step in the right direction is, it’s still a step and that’s how it always begins.
I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of great big fancy manufacturing techniques, and I’m grateful to my design background that I can use the knowledge of them to fight the urge for fast and cheap. In my endeavors to slow down production and provide a more conscious effort to make my end user more aware of where their product came from I went back to complete basics. My first project consisted of gathering some pre owned and used materials, some good old fashioned sketching a scanner, Illustrator and a Laser Cutting machine. The end result were some laser cut recycled aluminium necklaces, but I wasn’t satisfied, I had after all cheated a little. I felt the pull of the wholesome, nutritious product that touched the soul just that little bit. I needed to go even further backwards in order to move into this new direction. So I decided to rediscover the craft of knitting. To make my consumer aware of the hard work that went into making their hand made beanie I personally wrote a message on the labels with a little info on who made it and how.
Whilst my own slow production methods are a new found passion I have always had a huge interest and respect for all things multifunctional or which have a new found use in their afterlife. I’ve always dreamt of being a designer that is a part of changing the world, not just contributing to it and I hope that my new passion, my design conscience and my long standing interest can combine to make me a better designer, and intern a better person. And then hopefully some day my thoughts and actions will inspire others to ‘be the change ’they’ want to see in the world”.
A Fashion Fairytale…
Once upon a time I believed in fairy tales; a fashion fantasy. However during the course of my university degree in Fashion and Textiles, cracks appeared in the castle.
I went from loving the new, the “cool”, the “it” items, to pulling apart the very foundations that they were built on. Environmental and social abuses fraught in the industry kept rising up every time I would walk into a shopping centre. I would see the masses of people buying more and more, closets bursting open, rubbish bins full of waste, and I want to be part of this…fuel this…encourage this? Absolutely not.
Yet I still loved fashion. I loved the concepts, the craftsmanship, the aesthetics, the buzz and the beauty. But usually this beauty was hiding a very ugly beast. By my 3rd year of fashion I was having a fashion crisis of existential proportions.
A year off and accumulated travels provided an inspirational solution…slow design. After researching the Slow Food Movement in Italy I wondered if their principles (of Good, Clean and Fair) could be transposed and thus resolve my conflicts regarding the negative impacts of fashion. Lo and behold the potion had already been formulated and I could sprinkle it all over my final collection and lead me down the yellow brick road of sustainable and ethical fashion.
Slow design respects the traditions of design, the integrity of producers and manufacturers and stems the tide of the Fast, mass-produced, consumed and disposed, industry. I believe it is our role as designers to integrate this practice and ethic into contemporary designs. I was once again full of passion for fashion, as I discovered that many designers were already working with this very ethos.
I believe that we can no longer design in vein. I once read a quote that there are more chairs than ideas (source not remembered). The machine of mass consumer culture has taken control and is spurting out more than what we need, and further more of what wewant (or what we are made to feel we want / need). This has only devalued what we consume and confused consumers with what they really need. And so what do we do with the old? Replace with the new. Again. And again. And again. And did we even stop to think how this product came in to our possession? As designers I believe we have the role of educating our consumers, and this has to start with learning ourselves.
I was inspired to learn the origins of garments. I pressed stop on fashion, rewind and pause. I went back to the beginning of any fashion creation – textiles. The 3 traditional processes of textile production are weaving, knitting and felting – I was won over by the latter, with its hands-on tactile process (with added therapeutic / physical benefits). And with further research I discovered the Japanese technique of Nuno-felting (felting wool on to natural fibre cloth). I went on to produce a semi-couture collection where textiles were made specifically for garments. While these were bordering wearable art pieces the process has the potential to be applied to many functional and wearable items. And this is exactly what I am working on currently.
I am now impassioned with the potential of Slow, sustainable and ethical design and feel that the future is bright with the possibilities it has to allow us to design and live happily ever after.