“In early 1995, I traveled to Curitiba, Brazil to work setting up an after school program for kids in a favela. When I got there I was in awe of the people in the community. Brazil is a place full of life. I love the culture, food and language. I lived in the community where I worked. The poverty level was very high in that area and the kids I was working with needed an activity after school to keep them out of trouble.
One of the fundraisers we did to raise funds for the new program was creating trivets out of magazines. The kids would cut the pages out of the magazine and roll each page into a tight wrap and then glue them together. The community had economic challenges but I was always impressed with how they found new purposes for used products. I remember seeing 20 lbs. rice bags made into shopping bags and flip flops made out of old car tires. These concepts had me start to think about all the things we throw away that could have a second life. At the time, I didn’t know the term upcycling.
Once I got back to Seattle, I started working in the marine boatbuilding industry. I was also heavily involved in the sailing community. I noticed how many sails were being thrown away at a sail loft a friend of mine worked at. I have always loved the look of sail material. My friend was throwing out a sail in the dumpster and I asked if I could have it. He said that would be great so that they could keep their cost for disposal down.
Over the next few years, I started to play around with the material and trying to make bags out of it. I came to the realization really quickly that I needed another supporting material to strengthen the sail cloth. I kept my eyes open for something that would work. At that time I was working for a boat manufacturing company and driving a boat trailer up and down the U.S. West Coast. I kept seeing truck and trailers with the flexible siding and thought that might be an interesting material to mix with the sail. I contacted a number of trucking companies and was able to get the material to experiment with.
After a lot of different versions and ideas, I came to the conclusion that the sail material is able to provide a fresh clean look to the front of the bag while the back of the bag can be either the color of the tarp or multiple colors for where the writing and branding of the tarp were placed. This combination is something I had never seen before.
During the stages of design and concepting, I always thought back to my time in Brazil. The level of creativity amongst the people really inspired me to push the creative edge for the first Metamorphic Gear bag. What type of upcycling have you seen in the world?” – Lindsay