When Singaporean artist and founder of Rehyphen® Jessica Chuan Yi Xin stumbled upon a stash of forgotten cassette tapes in her room, she brainstormed a way to reuse the material rather than contribute to the growing problem of e-waste. A bit of ingenuity and experimentation led her to develop MusicCloth®, a handwoven textile made from upcycled magnetic tapes.
According to the United Nations, nearly 45 million metric tons of electronic waste was generated in 2016 — an increase of 8 percent from just two years prior. As an advocate for the environment, Chuan created MusicCloth® to raise awareness for upcycling and the global problem of e-waste. Chuan developed the innovative textile after nine months of research and development using cassette tapes donated by friends and family. In 2016, she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for MusicCloth® tote bags. The campaign not only raised the funds needed to take the project to the next level, but it also allowed her to collect cassette tapes from donors around the world.
Chuan weaves MusicCloth® by hand in a simple yet labor-intensive process. In addition to tote bags, the malleable material has been used to create art, wallets, notebooks and dresses. Chuan and her team at Rehyphen® also expanded to offer workshops through Airbnb’s “Experiences” platform to teach visitors in Singapore how to weave MusicCloth® creations. The globally recognized textile has even found a place in New York City’s Material ConneXion library and has also been recognized by the University of Pennsylvania and Red Dot 21. The material was recently entered in the Golden Pin Design Award’s new Integration Design category.
“We hope to encourage people to see waste with fresh perspective, and get curious about how things are made,” Chuan said. “We throw things away for they are broken, no longer useful or having lost their charm. We, however, elevate everyday objects to a work of art, and to show that up-cycling art is not an environment movement but instead is a reminder that observing the other side of existence is the essence of art.”
Images via Rehyphen®