Over 35,000 people crowded the Javitz Center this week for the New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF) to check out the colorful array of vendors showing off the latest in giftable products. If you weren't able to make it, Inhabitat was on the scene sifting through the overwhelming variety of home, gift and lifestyle wares and picking out the best sustainable designs. We were delighted to see that many of the goods we discovered were made from recycled and re-purposed materials - step into our gallery to see the cream of the green gift crop from the show!
Jetsam is one brand that undoubtedly stood out. Designer and founder Laura Skelton, who launched the company in 2011, has a background in sustainable architecture which shines through in her smaller scale products. Her collection of eco-friendly wallets are made from vintage menswear and factory overruns and produced on a local scale in Mexico, about an hour south of her San Diego base. The wallets offer a compact option for carrying essentials when on the go.
The Jetsam line includes two models: the classic 3-Pocket Billfold and the newly released Card Wallet. Each comes in three styles that speak to their hip sartorial history. The Uncle Larry Edition is made from vintage neckties with 70s-era patterns. For a more proper looking wallet, the Prepster Edition features stripes and traditional colors and the Natty Professor Edition is made from vintage wool jackets that sport herringbone tweed in muted colors. The outdoors type may enjoy the Spiffy Lumberjack Edition made from gently used plaid shirts. Customers will also appreciate that all packaging is made from recycled materials.
Another designer falling under the accessories category, Brooklyn-based Shannon South, upcycles used materials to make unique bags and accessories. Her company, Shannon South- Remade in the USA, launched in 2009 and has already enjoyed sales in Barney’s NY for two years. The designer strives to create beautiful, soulful, well-crafted, locally-made products that have the smallest footprint possible.
Besides the designs produced from South’s collection of used materials, customers have the option to send in old leather coats, denim or even doilies. The designer then re-crafts what is sent into a useable item that carries a personal history. People are always drawn towards well-designed products but sometimes grow bored with what they have and South has found a way to re-spark this initial desire without producing additional waste. In doing so, she creates an awareness of the endless possibilities of what can be done with discarded materials.
Vinylux was another company we found at the NYIGF that is making use of recycled materials. Their collection of vintage vinyl designs are made from old LPs, 45s, and vintage album covers. Located in Philly, the company has built relationships with record stores and collectors in the area who supply them with a vast supply of warped or damaged records. The vinyls are heat and pressure fused and made into bowls, clocks, mirrors and frames.
The old, intact records offer a range of possibilities but the company has not stopped there. The team has challenged themselves to think about the whole production process and use even the scraps they generate from the initial designs. Useable scraps are transformed into a Record Cuff which is 1-1/8 inch wide by 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Record labels are re-purposed to make the Record Label Coasters and Record Label Magnets. Album covers become sketchbooks filled with 100% recycled paper. After using as much as possible, any remains are sent to EKS in Brooklyn where they are ground up and once again given a new life as freshly made records.
With an array of innovative vendors sharing their designs, these are only a few of the ones we selected. We covered First World Trash and Wood Thumb in previous articles but they definitely also deserve a pat on the back for re-shaping how we think about waste. It is promising to know that small, sustainable designers are making an appearance at such a huge event and we hope to continue to see the numbers grow in the future!
All images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat