Sustainable design has become an essential part of how multidisciplinary designers work. Many are now conscious of responding to the critical need for environmental preservation, and the reduction of individual carbon footprints in their works. To lower resource consumption and waste generation, the re-utilisation of existing materials and products forms an integral pillar, presenting a proactive move towards saving the planet. This method of utilising the pre-existing was of utmost importance to Sydney-based designer Karina Barker while founding her label Re/lax Remade, which uses vintage bath towels to create vibrant and playful hats.
“It was essential not to bring anything ‘new’ into the world to put further strain on our planet when there is so much of everything out there already,” shares Barker. To further Re/lax Remade’s philosophy, interdisciplinary artist Jamie-Lee Garner utilised offcuts of the towels from the hat collection to craft a collaborative collection titled Fluffies. It comprises eight vases titled 'Moon,' 'The Pill,' 'Classic,' 'Seed,' 'Genesis,' 'Monk,' 'Surf' and 'Long Stem,' with distinctive forms handbuilt with sandy raku clay and meticulously wrapped in offcuts from vintage bath towels. “Through the process of warmly wrapping these stone-like vessels, I am reminded of the true expanse of human imagination and collaboration across time and mediums. This fabric has travelled across decades, been held in many hands and loved in many homes, and is now living anew. These nostalgic patterns have a third chance at life and it is something quite special to know that many artisans have worked with them along the way. This collection is an exploration of creativity and material sustainability,” Garner elaborates.
The idea for the vase designs began with a goal of lowering environmental impact while maintaining artistic expression through the recycled products. “I love that I am able to create ceramic works with a single firing and also extend the life of the towel material by taking it that one step further, it feels like working with something right until the pointy end, all that is left is a tiny handful of fibres,” shares Garner, on fusing her craft with that of Barker’s. The idea of embellishing the vases with fabric flared in Garner's head, as the designer struggled with the conundrum of avoiding hazardous colouring agents for her sculpture art while wishing to imbue them with vibrant hues. At that point, Barker stepped in and carefully gathered all of her offcuts and passed them to Garner for the designs. “It is extremely important to me to consider the entire lifecycle of my creations and the materials I use, so forming a partnership with Jamie-Lee, whereby I can divert my waste from landfill into her magic hands was pure synchronicity,” Barker comments on the collaboration.
In her works, Garner focuses predominantly on the energetic integration or dissonance of our memories, as she investigates the connection between our inner world and our outer reality. As the non-human ambassadors of this planet's beauty and diversity, realms of architecture, geology, and plant life embody a thread of spirituality and sensitivity. Re/lax Remade hopes to forge a new path within the Australian fashion industry by using recycled materials and manufacturing locally. In their shared commitment to sustainability and eco-conscious design principles, the artist and the designer discover a deep synergy that mutually satisfies their own ideologies, resulting in a collection of vessels that imbibe brightness, playfulness, and sustainability.
Text by Ria Jha