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Helsinki designs for a greener world

By Katja Pantzar, September 2014

Photo: Patrik Rastenberger
 Helsinki Design Week, Finland, Pure Waste, Costo, Launch Nordic Innovators, Waste Side Story Fashion Show, What If, Helsinki?, Liisa Riski, Nurmi, Poola Kataryna, Saint Vacant, Hannes Bengs, Anders Bengs, Lauri Köngäs-Eskandari
Hannes Bengs (left) and his colleagues run Pure Waste, a Finnish clothing label that uses 100 percent recycled materials.

Helsinki Design Week marks its tenth anniversary by going from a weeklong festival to a year-round event emphasising the importance of design in everyday life. Events include Waste Side Story Fashion Show, using 100 percent recycled fabrics, and the premiere of What If, Helsinki?, a movie exploring urban planning solutions for a car-free capital (trailer below).

Design has the potential to solve problems that affect all of us.

Consider the following dilemma: Millions of tons of fabric waste end up in landfills around the world every year. Decomposing cloth can release methane, while dyes and chemicals from fabrics can leach into soil and ground water.

Photo: Pure WasteHelsinki Design Week, Finland, Pure Waste, Costo, Launch Nordic Innovators, Waste Side Story Fashion Show, What If, Helsinki?, Liisa Riski, Nurmi, Poola Kataryna, Saint Vacant, Hannes Bengs, Anders Bengs, Lauri Köngäs-Eskandari
“This T-shirt saves water.” By using 100 percent recycled materials, Pure Waste also cuts down on the amount of water being used to grow cotton.

Enter the solution: Award-winning Finnish company Pure Waste, one of the Launch Nordic Innovators for 2014 (part of Launch, a strategic partnership between NASA, the US government and others) utilises leftover fabrics that would otherwise end up in the dump.

Brothers Hannes and Anders Bengs, and Lauri Köngäs-Eskandari founded Pure Waste on the heels of their successful Costo brand, which uses denim and tricot scraps to make stylish accessories ranging from hats and bags to shoes.

“Just as everyone knows that Gore-Tex means an item is waterproof, we want to achieve the same recognition with our Pure Waste label,” says Hannes Bengs. “The consumer will immediately knows that an item bearing our label is 100 percent recycled. It benefits, rather than harms, the environment.”

On the eco-catwalk

Photo: Pure WasteHelsinki Design Week, Finland, Pure Waste, Costo, Launch Nordic Innovators, Waste Side Story Fashion Show, What If, Helsinki?, Liisa Riski, Nurmi, Poola Kataryna, Saint Vacant, Hannes Bengs, Anders Bengs, Lauri Köngäs-Eskandari
Waste Side Story Fashion Show at Helsinki Design Week presents clothes by top designers using Pure Waste textiles.

As part of Helsinki Design Week, the Waste Side Story Fashion Show at the hip new Abattoir complex presents Pure Waste textiles in one-off clothing and accessories created by front-row Finnish designers such as Liisa Riski, Nurmi, Poola Kataryna and a dozen others including footwear brand Saint Vacant, whose smart denim sneakers use Pure Waste’s recycled fabric.

“The fashion show is the brainchild of producer Marjo Kuusinen, who had the idea of inviting other designers and labels to make show pieces from our material,” says Bengs.

Pure Waste, which recently launched the world’s first 100 percent recycled denim, has several other innovations including a line of T-shirts made from recycled tricot in India.

“If we talk about ecological cotton, we are much more ecological because our cotton isn’t grown – we use material that already exists,” says Bengs. “Organic cotton doesn’t use chemicals, but it does harm nature by using a lot of water – one of our T-shirts saves 2,700 litres of water because it’s not necessary to grow the cotton. Some of the world’s largest lakes have dried up as a result of this need for water.”

In addition to providing recycled tricot and denim to many domestic brands with several international copartnerships pending, Pure Waste won the Finnish award for Fashion Act of the Year 2013. The act, of course, was being a sustainability leader.

Car-free futures


Trailer: “What If, Helsinki?” imagines filling the space around Pasila Station with a neighbourhood for 100,000 people.

Architect and urban planning visionary Olli Hakanen is one of the team behind the movie What if, Helsinki? which premieres at Helsinki Design Week.

The film proposes a new garden city, Pasila, as the heart of Helsinki and part of a larger, virtually car-free transportation concept where rail and other solutions are rethought and redesigned.

“Many decisions have been made regarding Helsinki’s urban planning without serious consideration to the benefits of how people spend time,” says Hakanen.

“For example, take the idea that saving a few minutes by driving a car is not actually a real time benefit compared to the wellbeing and environmental benefits of spending time walking or cycling in nature and being able to work or relax while taking public transit.”


New design magazine

As the tenth anniversary of Helsinki Design Week marks the shift from a weeklong festival to a year-round event with 150 events from 100 different organisers, the Week is also launching a new, bilingual (Finnish and English) web magazine. “Helsinki Design Weekly will do year-round what the Helsinki Design Week festival does during its week in September: bring the field of design to urban residents, comment on phenomena in design and raise discussion about the future of design,” says Hanna Harris, Helsinki Design Week programme director.

See also on thisisFINLAND

Finnish design makes new waves abroad
Design fills the fabric of Finnish life
Welcome to Finland, the design nation 

Links

Helsinki Design Week, Sept 4–14, 2014
Waste Side Story Fashion Show, Sept 12 
What If, Helsinki? movie premiere, Sept 11 
Pure Waste textiles
Costo

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