Using Trash To Make Treasures: Meet Clara Chu
We sit down with Clara Chu, an up and coming UK based designer transforming trash into treasures.
Share 3 words that summarise your designs!
For those not aware of your work, please share with us a summary of your work
Clara Chu is a London based multidisciplinary artist and designer.
She creates work that re-imagines everyday, mundane objects in our domestic world, mixing mass production with the hand crafted. Visionary and colourful pop accessories challenge what we wear on our bodies, not only textiles but everyday household objects we take for granted such as a mop, a kettle and a toothbrush. Clara’s exploration around up- cycling questions the prominence of fast-moving consumer goods, blurring boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms of culture through humorous transformations. Her practice helps change the perception around waste in forms of fashion accessories, installations and workshops.
Tell us about your journey into sustainability?
I first conceptualised household items as resource material for my work during the first year of my Masters studies at the Royal College of Art. I was exploring the world of food packaging, food transportation including takeaway, packed- lunches, the tools people were using historically, how they have evolved and how they differ in different cultures and eras. I soon then picked my favourite form of food packaging, which was a Tupperware container, and studied its history, manufacturing technique, and their huge variety of designs. I wanted to redesign a lunch bag essentially, and to present something with such mundane functionality within the context of Fashion. In the end, I produced a handbag collection utilising different kitchen utensils including chocolate moulds, silicone heatproof mats and water bottle lids.
Using recycled materials is key to your designs, can you tell us about your upcoming relationships with NGO’s and companies who assist you in diverting materials from landfill?
In the coming months I plan to connect with local organisations that focus on recycling and repurposing plastics and work with NGOs that target cities' industrial and commercial wastes with the aim to achieve the diversion of product wastes to landfill. Through these collaborations, I hope to gain support on the salvage of abandoned and disused objects and create a collaborative vision on producing better waste management systems that are both creative and inspiring.
Proudest moment to date?
Being part of The State of Fashion Biennale 2022 in Arnhem has marked a significant achievement for the business.
I learnt from Het KinderWijkTeam in plastic recycling and partnered with 2Switch to produce ‘Promenade on Slow Street’, an interactive installation piece aimed at questioning our existing fashion high street; 3 sculptures that helped introduce some of Arnhem’s ‘slow-street initiatives’ as well as a ‘zero-waste bag’ workshop corner where audiences built fashion accessories using donated second hand objects, such as cookie cutters, toys, yarns and milk bottles.
What does the future look like for your design, how do you see it evolving in the future?
Improving the design process is a continuous goal for the business. Next is to involve the community more in both my sourcing and production processes by encouraging customers to donate their own materials in order to receive a ‘new’ product in return. I would also like to spend more time on developing a new website that offers a more accessible, systemised and efficient process of purchasing a Clara Chu custom accessory.
Where can we follow your journey?