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Wayne Hemingway: sustainable design

Date: 6/09/2013 | Author: Paul Sanderson

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He founded Red or Dead and is one of the UK's top designers. He is also committed to resource efficient design as Paul Sanderson found out

Wayne Hemingway is one of the UK’s top designers. Along with his wife Geraldine, he has designed fashion when they founded the Red or Dead brand in the 1980’s, they have designed houses for Taylor Wimpey and recyclable uniforms for McDonalds.

And a key element of all of this, is that Wayne has always put sustainability at the heart of what he does - or as he puts it “thrift”.

He sees traditional values of thrift as a vital ingredient in developing resource efficient practice so that we make the most of the materials we already have.

This may include everything from promoting vintage clothing, to better understanding of how we can repair and reuse goods rather than throw them away.

He is putting all of this into practice at the first national and free Festival of Thrift that takes place on Saturday 21st to Sunday 22nd September at Lingfield Point in Darlington.

“The idea for the Festival of Thrift came from working at Lingfield Point,” he says. “It is an amazing 1950’s, and earlier, factory that had closed down.

“It is an evocative building, but there was no chance of a building like this being listed.

“But you see these buildings all over the place empty or they become a soulless housing development.

“A company called Marchday have bought the building and brought this building to life.

“This building should be famous for what Marchday are doing with it.”

Wayne HemingwayLingfield Point offers businesses and organisations such as Capita, Student Loans Company, NHS, NFU Mutual and others office space, but it also intends to  provide eco-homes working with Taylor Wimpey, a school, parkland and sports pitches as well as a health centre, shops and restaurants.

All of this is designed to be low carbon with its own renewable energy centre  due shortly on site using sustainable combined heat and power.    

“John Orchard from Marchday and I talked about all of this being thrifty and sustainable,” says Wayne. “But we also came up with the idea of a mini-festival looking at all of the small things that are going on around the idea of thrift.

“This is about being thrifty and cool, but not about wearing a hair shirt. It is about having fun to make the most of your money and the idea of making the world a better place by giving products a full life.

“We live in a society of over-consumerism and this isn’t very enlightened. This isn’t about being poor and not having a choice, but making the best of our resources.

“In the 1980’s, brands encouraged us to throw things away and lead a disposable lifestyle.

“We’ve lost those values, but we can get them back. The High Street is going to have to change and we have to start thinking again of town centres as a place we can go to get things repaired.

“There is no reason why repair shops have to be relegated to industrial parks.”

The Festival of Thrift will give people fun experiences such as preparing interesting food cheaply, how to keep animals, lots of fashion including how to buy vintage clothes and well as workshops for kids and adults of all ages.

“It is about helping people to learn, without it being preachy but fun, some of the skills our parents and grandparents would once have had.”

But this idea of thrift does not just apply to the general public.

One of his recent projects was to develop a new sustainable uniform for employees of fast food chain McDonalds.

Originally designed for use at McDonalds restaurants on the Olympic Park at London 2012, the uniforms proved so successful that they are now being rolled out across the country.

“The brief from McDonalds was to do two things - a uniform that looked younger and fresher and one that was more consumate with store fits that felt like a restaurant rather than fast food.

“It is the first closed loop uniform using recycled polyester.

Wayne Hemingway McDonalds“We found somewhere that can recycle this material when the uniform comes to the end of its life and we are going to bring this technology to the UK.

“We have a manufacturing facility in the UK to make the uniform and we will recycle it here in the UK.

“Around 87,500 people working in McDonalds now have the uniform and we are also going to launch it in Scandinavia and northern Europe.”

He says there was once a time when he was sceptical about working with companies such as McDonalds, but he has realised these businesses can be agents for change.

“These companies are pushing the boundaries of what we need to do in terms of sustainable resources because they have the money and the will to do it.

“We are working now with Coca-Cola and there is more opportunity to get things done with companies like this.

“Things are more likely to happen quickly if these brands are involved as they have the manpower and the money.”

He argues that the recycling sector can do more to engage with designers, manufacturers and retailers, but it needs to improve its image from being a waste industry to one that is “cool”.

As somebody who is not afraid of giving his opinions, he suggests that the recycling sector needs to be much better at presenting itself as an exciting and sustainable industry that markets itself as a cool industry to be involved in.

That way, more people are likely to be inspired about resources, he believes.


Lingfield Point: the future of office space?

Lingfield Point

Lingfield Point is an office space unlike many others in the UK. While many people will be used to working in bland offices, Lingfield Point, based in Darlington, inspires through use of retro furniture, as can be seen in the picture of part of its canteen above. Its reception is designed to inspire using Barcelona chairs to give an art deco feel along with the sweeping staircase. 


Category: Interview


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