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Posts Tagged ‘designers’

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Photo: Didem Tali
Seng Super is a co-founder of La Chhouk, a Cambodian creative fashion initiative that makes clothing out of recyclables. The group, which includes gay and straight designers, hopes to both encourage people to reduce trash and also “show people that LGBT individuals are capable of creating beautiful things.”

Never underestimate the power of a creative mind to make something lovely out of something ugly. I remember surprising myself with how much I loved certain luminous oil paintings of factories spewing out air pollution. The sad Depression-era photos of Appalachian poverty also have a certain beauty. These works draw you to them without any undertone of “poverty is good” or “pollution is good.”

In Cambodia, young designers aren’t repurposing plastic to praise it but, you might say, to bury it.

Didem Tali writes at the South China Morning Post, “Members of the recycling collective La Chhouk started with a dress made from brown rice sacks decorated with beer bottle tops and broken CDs which was later worn by a Miss Cambodia runner-up at an international beauty pageant.

“Most visitors to Cambodia are eager to see the ancient temple complex of Angkor or the beaches of Sihanoukville, but there is one sight they may want to shield their eyes from: mountains of plastic bags, bottles and styrofoam boxes. …

” ‘Plastic waste is everywhere,’ says Seng Super, a 22-year-old Cambodian designer. ‘It’s in the streets, rivers, lakes. It’s very upsetting.’

“Seng Super studied at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. He was born in the 1990s, a time when millions of Cambodians were beginning to lift themselves out of extreme poverty, bringing environmental degradation in its wake.

“For many young and urban Cambodians, pollution is a huge concern. So when it was time to prepare for the university’s annual art show in 2014, Seng Super and his classmates decided to create a project that would challenge people to rethink their wasteful ways. The result, La Chhouk, is a creative fashion initiative geared towards making clothing out of trash and other recyclable materials. …

“Seng Super and his classmates wanted not only to challenge the way Cambodians think of waste, but also capture their attention in the most remarkable and elegant way. Using only recyclable materials they found in the trash, they created several flamboyant dresses of the sort usually worn by traditional apsara dancers. …

“Many people thought the goal was too far-fetched and ambitious – especially as none of them had any training in fashion. That is why the designers named their collective La Chhouk, which means ‘lotus’ in Cambodia’s Khmer language.

“ ‘The lotus is a beautiful flower that can grow in muddy or dirty waters,’ Seng Super says. ‘We thought it was a beautiful metaphor for what we wanted to do with trash and our dresses.’ …

“Last year the members of La Chhouk were given a vote of confidence for what many regarded as a wacky project when Em Kunthong, first runner-up in the Miss Cambodia 2016-17 beauty pageant, opted to wear the dress for the Miss Earth environmental awareness beauty competition held in the Philippines.

“ ‘This dress represents the perfect Cambodian woman,’ Seng Super says … ‘She’s empowered, close to the Earth and strong like a bull. She has the soul of a wild cow, which is a very important element of Cambodian identity and culture.’ …

“Since the creation of that first apsara dress, La Chhouk has gone on to design dozens of other dresses inspired by Cambodian culture and mythology. In a recent project called Saving Wild, they sought to bring attention to animals facing extinction in Cambodia, such as the Indochinese tiger, river dolphins and various bird species. Seng Super designed dresses representing these animals using plastic waste.

“The project is ongoing, and the collective recently held an exhibition in collaboration with the WWF and Tiger Beer.

“The collective’s members still hold down day jobs to pay the bills, and work on their recycled fashion projects in the evenings and on weekends.” More here.

Hat Tip: @BeingFarhad onTwitter

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New York has solicited design concepts for giving its old payphones new life. Now the city is asking “the crowd” to pick its favorite.

As Amar Toor writes at The Verge, “The City of New York this week announced the six finalists in its Reinvent Payphones challenge — an initiative that invites students, urban planners, and designers to propose their visions for the payphone of the future. The finalists were selected as winners in six different categories, and are now in the running for the Popular Choice Award, to be determined later this month.

“Not surprisingly, interactive and digital features play a major role in most of the six designs, including NYC/IO, winner of the Community Impact category. Created by Control Group and Titan, the proposal calls for the city’s phone booths to be replaced with high-tech kiosks, replete with transparent screens that pedestrians could use to not only make calls, but find restaurants, pay parking tickets, or surf the web.”

Read about all six designs, here. “You can vote for the best design on the New York City Facebook page until March 15th.”

And speaking of tapping the wisdom of crowds, Suzanne would love to have you vote on a logo for her new line at the birthstone jewelry company that hosts Suzanne’s Mom’s Blog. Targeted at young women and girls, the new line is going to be called Stellina — it’s the younger sister in the Luna & Stella family. The voting ends tomorrow, March 8. Do take a look at the logo designs, here, and vote if you have a minute.

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Do you have techie talents? Consider joining the folks volunteering their technology skills for unusual causes.

“At Random Hacks of Kindness events,” writes Cody Switzer for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “technology experts volunteer to solve problems facing nonprofits and other organizations interested in doing good.

“Programmers in San Francisco and Berlin got together recently to attempt to build a system that would allow immigrants to tell their families they’ve arrived safely at their destination without anyone else finding out.

“In Nairobi, a similar group worked on a system to report election results in real time, including incidents of election violence and accusations of voter fraud.

“In Toronto, others worked on a system that could allow Nepali women to send ultrasound pictures via mobile devices.

“All of them were volunteers, willing to lend their technological expertise to nonprofits and causes.

“These projects and others were part of the Random Hacks of Kindness weekend, a twice-yearly, 36-hour work session for designers, programmers, and technology experts to solve problems facing nonprofits and other organizations interested in doing good. The most recent events, held [in June 2012] in 25 cities worldwide, drew 900 participants, according to organizer SecondMuse, a consulting firm that works with companies and individuals on better ways to collaborate.”

The Christian Science Monitor reprinted the story. Check it out.

Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/File
Employees at Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and other technology companies volunteer for Random Hacks of Kindness.

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