Kenyan junk becomes Nordic design

Gothenburg-based designer duo Taste for Waste designs unique accessories and interior decoration products made from recycled materials. The latest collection is made of used bicycle tubes from Kenya.

With the support of the University of Gothenburg and Sida, among others, Pernilla Persson and Jenny Fingal has taken on the task of reduce Kenya's growing environmental problems and high unemployment. The goal is to reduce the impact on the environment by making trash into stylish design products and create sustainable jobs for poor artisans in Kenya.

- A designer must not only produce good and smart products for the consumer, we also have a responsibility to contribute to a better environment. Bicycle tubes is causing great littering in Kenya and release toxins when burned. Our design attracts Swedish consumers as their purchase contributes to creating sustainable jobs for the locals who would otherwise live in difficult economic conditions, says Pernilla Persson.

Taste for waste started as a part of Helena Hansson's research project in Kenya. Hansson is a research student in design at the Academy of Design and Crafts. Her research aims to create structures for change by adapting to, and building on, to the existing “to do more with less for many with many” through design. Her research serves as a catalytic process to start spin-off projects.

- Jenny and Pernilla has formed a separate project that builds on my research and an established network, that they still are part of, says Helena Hansson.

The first collection of Taste for Waste includes necklaces, flies, case for tablets and trivets. One requirement is that the products are produced from recycled materials. Furthermore, they must be able to be produced by means of simple tools such as scissors and needles. Therefore, all products are made of used bicycle tubes, that artisans can buy for a penny a piece and is also an easy material to work with.

- We've had a slim budget to work with, but it's really cool that we now have products ready for the Swedish market. This provides a future for Kenyan craftsmen and is also a step towards reducing Kenya's environmental problems, says Jenny Fingal, designer Taste for waste.

The interest in Taste for Waste's products is large and between January 18 to 21 they will participate in the Design Fair Formex. The idea is to invest all surplus to continued cooperation with the craft organization Zingira Community Craft representing local artisans in Kenya and thus create more sustainable jobs on the spot.

Taste for waste was created with the support of Mistra Urban Futures, which promotes sustainable urban development around the world. Behind Mistra Urban Futures is, among others, Sida, Chalmers and Västra Götalandsregionen. Taste for waste is also supported by the Konstnärsnämnden.