The Alessi Design Awards are here — and things just got even more exciting.
A fledgling designer can look to many places for inspiration. From a book or the pages of a magazine such as Vogue Living, learning the tips and tricks of the trade are all part of the journey into becoming an established, career designer. But, like in every industry, there’s nothing better than learning on the job — or from the people who know best.
Alessi’s annual Design Awards, which have seen the iconic Italian brand partner with Vogue Living yet again for the ultimate up-and-coming Australian design award, could see that dream become a reality. With two categories, Emerging Designer and Established Designer, the award fosters talent from all corners of the Australian design industry, with the two finalists of the Emerging Designer award winning the opportunity to travel to Milan to present their big idea to the in-house team.
Now, excitingly, a living legend and design icon has joined the judging panel. French designer Philippe Starck has been announced as one of the judges for the Alessi Design Award, and will be personally involved in selecting the final winner. A known figurehead in the industry, Starck’s prowess as an architect and industrial, furniture and lighting designer has seen him work with a slew of much-lauded brands, including Alessi, throughout his impressive career.
Known within the Alessi family for his unique take on the classic citrus squeezer, Starck designed the ‘Juicy Salif’ in the 1990s as part of the Project Solferino, a working group between Alessi and Francois Burkhardt from the Centre de Creation Industrielle at the Beabourg in Paris. The design was functional and controversial all at the same time, transforming the humble juicer into a staple design object — and becoming one of Alessi’s best-selling products of the era. “He is a living example of my dream: design, real design, is always highly charged with innovation towards the word of manufacturing trade, bringing results that need no longer be justified solely on a technological or balance sheet level,” said Alberto Alessi himself said of Starck’s genius.
Starck is among an impressive list of designers who have collaborated with Alessi over the years, including Patricia Urquiola, Adam Goodrum and Marc Newson.
I love slip-on shoes because they’re so convenient to wear.
I can throw them on when I want to get somewhere quickly, and slip them off easily when visiting a “shoes-off” household. And I’m not ashamed to say that I’ll occasionally pop them off in a movie theater or while driving, or anywhere else where I’m sitting for long periods of time and want to let the “dogs” breathe.
The problem with a lot of slip-on shoes is that they aren’t very fashionable. It’s like designers decided that their shoes couldn’t be convenient and attractive at the same time. Fortunately, footwear startup Kizik offers sneakers that look good, provide a custom fit for your feet, and be taken on and off without using your hands.
I tried the Boston and New York styles, and both looked great and were customizable to my feet
I tested out two styles of Kizik sneakers – the $160 Boston and the $150 New York. The Boston Sneaker comes in 11 different sizes ranging from 8 to 14, and there are three colors – Black, Date Tan, and Castle, which is a gray shade. The New York Sneaker comes in the same sizes and colors, but there are also White and Coffee colors.
When I opened the boxes, I was hit with a couple of odors. First, there was the pleasant new leather scent from the full-grain leather upper. However, the soles had a chemical stench to them when I brought them close to my nose. This dissipated over time.
I wear a size 15 shoe in most brands, but I’ve grown used to squeezing into 14s when that’s all that’s available. So I tried out the 14s in the date color for both styles and found they actually fit perfectly; a 15 would not have fit as well.
I tried the Boston Sneaker first. My left foot slid in comfortably, but it was a tighter squeeze for my right foot – it happens to be wider than my left. Fortunately, I was able to adjust the tongue to provide more room. At first, the shoes were slightly uncomfortable and stiff, but after about 10 minutes of walking around in them, they started to feel better. The New York Sneaker seemed to fit better from the get-go. It felt like it had more support for my medium arch. I didn’t need to adjust the tongue at all.
I have a medium arch and found the shoes provided excellent arch support. A cool feature of the shoes is the adjustable Velcro strips on either side of the tongue. If your foot feels too loose around the bridge, you can just lower the tongue on each side and tighten the Velcro. If too tight, raise the tongue and loosen the Velcro.
Neither of the styles have laces, but they each have a series of four elastic bands along the tongue where laces usually are so it looks like you’re wearing lace-up shoes.
Kizik/InstagramThe Kizik Boston, $160
The titanium wire spring in the heel doesn’t fold down when I slip my feet into the shoes
As I mentioned, I love slip-on shoes. For the past decade, my shoe of choice has been the $79.95 Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc. Though it’s incredibly comfortable, versatile, and durable, it’s not much to look at. I feel like they give the impression that I’m either lazy or don’t know how to tie my shoes, but can assure you that I know how to do.
The Kizik shoes are comfortable, easy to slip on, and look great. Though appearance is a matter of preference, I like the look of the Boston Sneakers more, but the New York Sneakers felt better on my feet, especially during long walks. Both pairs garnered compliments from friends.
The shoes are also truly hands-free. Thanks to a titanium spring wire built into the heel, you can really just slide your foot into the shoe without needing to use your hands to hold the back of the heel up – it’ll spring back into position if your heel pushes it down a little. I never had an issue with the heel folding in or staying scrunched down.
Though the shoes were a little stiff at first, they have a contoured footbed that provided the right balance of comfort and support for long days on my feet. And I didn’t notice any pain after wearing the shoes for longer periods either.
My only complaint is that the shoes aren’t waterproof. I’m used to footwear that keeps my feet dry in the rain. I like to go for walks in all kinds of weather, and I found that water would seep through in when I wore my Kiziks. On the plus side, they do breathe well, so I haven’t developed any foot odors in the shoes yet.
The shoes start at $150 so they’re not cheap, but reasonably priced for something that looks and fits great, and can be customized for your feet
Kizik/InstagramThe Kizik New York, $150
The Kizik sneakers are among the best shoes I’ve worn. At $150, they’re not cheap, but the price is not unreasonable, for a shoe that demonstrates your individuality and practicality. The fact that you can move the tongue around to ensure a custom fit is a nice option if you have trouble finding footwear for a perfect Goldilocks fit.
Personally, I think the Boston Sneakers look better in the Date color. But if I had the opportunity to choose the shoes all over again, I would get a pair of the New York sneakers in Castle because the shoes felt better to me, and I like the gray color. If you’re concerned about having footwear that matches your wardrobe, then black is your best bet since it can go with just about anything.
Overall, I strongly recommend the Kizik sneakers if you want comfortable and convenient slip-ons that are appropriate for any occasion.
Buy the Kizik Design Men’s Boston Sneakers from Zappos, Nordstrom, and Amazon for $160
Buy the Kizik Design Men’s New York Sneakers from Zappos, Nordstrom, and Amazon for $150
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Makeup was readily available at home with an actor-mother around, and, yet, Masaba Gupta wasn’t allowed to apply any while growing up. Neena Gupta — as is the wont of mothers — would often tell off her teenaged daughter, worrying the cosmetics would make her already “bad skin” — with “huge pores” — worse. Masaba would still put on her mother’s makeup before going to school, but that made her stick out as the makeup — three shades lighter than her skin tone — would leave white spots on her face and a punctured confidence.
Days ahead of the launch of her own line of makeup — for the Indian skin tone — in collaboration with beauty-products retailer Nykaa, the Mumbai-based 30-year-old fashion designer, walks in wearing jeans and an oversized black-and-white striped shirt. Her hair is pulled back in a tight bun, and a light brown lipstick is the only embellishment on her face.
Two years in the making, the collection, as of now, comprises 12 shades of nail paint, and corresponding lipsticks, and a nail-polish remover. “Pop” is the word to describe Gupta’s creations, even though the colour palette is very muted, minus the drama of Gupta’s favourite colours — fluorescents, bright pinks and greens. There are several shades of nude, ranging from pink to brown, as well as a blue-tone red and a shade of orange, among others.
Not everyone has a makeup artist at her disposal, and so, “makeup needs to be super inclusive. There are all kinds of us — girls with great skin, girls who tan easily, girls who want to tan. We needed something for everyone,” she says, “I have put together five shades of nudes, because what’s nude on you is brown on me. Makeup should, perhaps, only make you slightly better, and we should not use it as a place to hide.”
The world of fashion opened up to her when she was only 17. The creator of The House of Masaba label started with ushering at the Lakmé fashion week in Mumbai. A GenNext designer at the 2009 Lakmé Fashion Week, Masaba got her first break under fashion designer Wendell Rodricks. At 24, she was also one of the youngest people to have helmed Satya Paul as its fashion director. But it was the quirky prints of a comb, camera, Tamil script, and animal motifs combined with playful colours that helped Masaba come into her own. Cheap copies of these prints sell by the dozen in wholesale markets. For inspiration, she says, she looks to the past — “to history and the vast heritage of our country, from the south to the north.”
Earlier this year, she unveiled her jewellery line Ghana Ghana (an 85 piece collection, inspired by the West African Akan tribe, blending animal motifs of crocodile, fish, with those of face masks, horns, etc., in large chokers, earrings , pendants and oversized cuffs, in silver and gold) in collaboration with the Rajasthan-headquartered brand Amrapali. This, in addition to a cricket-inspired sari collection for Banarasi-wear label Ekaya. While an Ekaya sari/lehenga would be priced at Rs 70,000 upwards, an Amrapali statement piece is below Rs 13,000. “I’ve always wanted to push myself. I’ve never wanted to repeat myself, am not happy with presenting one line in three months and be done with it. I want to be the master of all trades,” she says, adding, “People think that I have it easy, but I have built something on my own for 10 years. I’m going to work doubly hard to deliver, and continue to create.”
The fashion industry, she feels, should introspect and look towards our past for inspiration. “I was taught Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen and their ilk in college (she studied apparel manufacture and design in 2010 at Premlila Vithaldas Polytechnic of Mumbai’s Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, whose alumni include Anita Dongre, Neeta Lulla and Sonakshi Sinha), but why is Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal or Anita Dongre not taught as part of the fashion curriculum? We need to look at our heritage, history and learn. Why wait for a Chanel to create an ‘India-inspired’ makeup line?” asks the designer who calls herself “India-proud”. The embroidery for all the leading fashion houses and labels in the West, she says, happens here, and, yet, “we don’t embrace it. We, as an industry, have modelled ourselves on the West, but as a society, we function differently. Wedding shopping, for instance, is a social affair — the whole family has to approve of the bride’s lehenga,” she says.
Today, she has become a go-to designer in the Hindi film industry. Sonam Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Karan Johar, and Alia Bhatt are all Masaba regulars. “Bollywood sells,” she says, “It is a part and parcel of who we are. It’s just better that we accept it. The life of a super star is what we sell.”
Waterproof shoes may seem like a niche market, but we could always use some really sturdy footwear when we’re galavanting on the beach or on a boat. Not all water shoes are the ones you had to wear at summer camp. We scoured the web for some fashion-forward shoes that will keep your feet safe while also maintaining that summer style you worked hard to perfect.
Sea Star Beachwear Beachcomber Espadrille, $85 from Zappos: This water shoe/espadrille combo takes all the things you appreciate about a water shoe (quick drying, sturdy, breathable) and pairs it with the stylings of a shoe you’d wear outside of the beach. They’re stretchy and have a non-skid rubber boat shoe sole so you can wear them on the beach, boardwalk, or even under the waves without worrying about slipping.
Native Shoes Jefferson Sneaker, $20-$62 on Amazon: Injected molded EVA gives this “sneaker” its waterproof capabilities. The slip-on construction means there’s no worrying about tying wet laces and the cutouts give you breathability and quick-drying abilities. Plus, they come in a multitude of colors and patterns to fit your mood.
Women’s Kilchis Sneaker, $70 from Under Armour: The highly breathable textile upper paired with the contoured footbed is designed for maximum drainage and means these sneakers are water’s worst enemy. Pair these with a pair of shorts and hit the town because they’ll take you from beach to boardwalk without much thought.
Cityscape Sneakers, $129 from Vessi Footwear: These sneakers may not be made for the surf, but they’re great to wear while strolling down the shore. The knit construction keeps them lightweight and the entire shoe is 100% vegan.
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Adidas has already been making great strides to rid the world of plastic waste – and now they are taking it one step further by introducing a 100% recyclable performance running shoe that is “made to be remade.”
Sports footwear typically include complex material mixes and component gluing which result in a shoe that can only be downcycled.
After almost a decade of research and development, however, Adidas has refined the process to create the Futurecraft.Loop: a shoe that uses only one type of material and no glue.
Each component is made from 100% reusable TPU – it’s spun to yarn, knitted, molded and clean-fused. Once the shoes come to the end of their first life and are returned to Adidas – they are washed, ground to pellets and melted into material for components for a new pair of shoes, with zero waste and nothing thrown away.
The project is aimed at tackling the problem of plastic waste, enabling a “closed loop” or circular manufacturing model, where the raw materials can be repurposed again and again. But not just repurposed into a water bottle or a tote – but into another pair of high-performance running shoes.
In 2015, Adidas introduced the first footwear concept with its upper materials made entirely of yarns and filaments from reclaimed and recycled marine plastic waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets. In 2019, Adidas will produce 11 million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic through intercepting plastic waste on beaches, remote islands, and in coastal communities.
Adidas is now committed to using only recycled polyester in every one of their products and applications where a solution exists by 2024.
“Taking plastic waste out of the system is the first step, but we can’t stop there,” said Eric Liedtke, an Executive Board Member at adidas. “What happens to your shoes after you’ve worn them out? You throw them away – except there is no away. There are only landfills and incinerators and ultimately an atmosphere choked with excess carbon, or oceans filled with plastic waste. The next step is to end the concept of ‘waste’ entirely. Our dream is that you can keep wearing the same shoes over and over again.
“Futurecraft.Loop is our first running shoe that is made to be remade. It is a statement of our intent to take responsibility for the entire life of our product; proof that we can build high-performance running shoes that you don’t have to throw away.”
The first generation of Futurecraft.Loop is rolling out as part of a global beta program with 200 influencers from across the world’s major cities. Adidas is asking them to run, return the shoes, and share feedback on their experience ahead of the second-generation drop.
The insights will then be used to shape the roadmap for the wider release targeted for the spring or summer of 2021.
Tanyaradzwa Sahanga, who is the manager of Adidas’s innovation department, commented: “There were times when it didn’t seem like we could get over some of the technical hurdles – now we’ve made the first leap, the playing field has changed.
“We cannot create a circular future on our own, we are going to need each other. We’re excited to see this first step come to life as part of the beta launch.”
The students were challenged to reduce their plastic use by 75%, which they found difficult.
“It’s hard when you’re on a student budget, getting anything not wrapped in plastic is so much more expensive,” Amy explained.
Plastics guru Lucy Siegle gave them a helping hand, swapping their countless shower bottles for sustainable versions of shampoo, toothpaste and soap bars.
She also gave them reusable items like coffee cups and cutlery and told them to change their shopping habits.
But Amy said they found supermarkets a particular problem as “everything was wrapped in plastic”.
“And going to the butcher’s was more expensive than getting pre-packaged stuff,” she added.
At the start of the week, Ms Siegle weighed the plastic in the students’ home, which totalled 2.8lb (1.3kg) – a figure she described as “rather a lot”.
With her advice, the students reduced it to 1.5lb.
“I’m still really pleased with them,” she said. “Especially as when I saw all the bottles they [initially] had in their bathroom, I nearly gave up.”
Ms Siegle said she thought the group had adopted the mindset shift really quickly, experiencing outrage over everything being plastic.
She urged them to be more militant by unwrapping products at the supermarket checkout and leaving the plastic behind to make the point.
“We need to take a stand,” she said.
Marcus Rudd, one of the housemates, had hoped that his shopping habits – buying 10 to 15 T-shirts a year, combined with some designer pieces – were environmentally friendly.
Then he learned that it took 3,000 litres of water on average to make only one T-shirt.
The fashion industry – which makes 100 billion garments each year – is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, water pollution, air pollution and the overuse of water.
It is exacerbated, MPs say, by so-called “fast fashion” – inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers.
Sustainable stylist Alice Wilby taught the students to reuse, repair and recycle, encouraging them to swap fast fashion for second-hand.
She challenged Marcus and his housemate Goby Chan, who regularly buys clothes she does not wear, to make a new outfit from old clothes to model at London Fashion Week.
“We buy so much stuff and half of it sits unworn in the back of the wardrobe,” Ms Wilby said.
“Before we buy anything else it’s great to see what you’ve already got, and fall back in love with your things.”
Goby enjoyed the challenge. “I was shocked by what you can do by reusing a garment and making it into something new which is actually really fashionable. I actually love it.”
The students modelling recycled clothes
Quiz: Are your clothes damaging the environment?
The students with a food waste problem
And Ms Wilby said they did well.
“Considering Marcus had never set foot in a second-hand shop before – and thought they were smelly places with clothes you would never want to buy – by the end of the week he was finding pieces he really loved. That was a really great victory.
“These two shop a lot, and over the past month [since the challenge] he has only bought one item.”
The students took dramatic action to reduce their energy usage – and it worked.
They used much less heating – switching it off at night; wearing jumpers, coats and blankets; and generally keeping the house a little bit cooler.
It made a huge difference to their gas usage – cutting it by a whopping 48%.
They also lowered their electricity usage by 15%. This added up to a 44% carbon saving – around a tonne of carbon in all.
“It was a massive effort – it was freezing in our house,” said Marcus Golby.
“[Before] we weren’t communicating when things were going on and going off, so you ended up with the heating on the majority of the time,” explained Amy.
“This month we’re having more of a balance of keeping warm and keeping the heating off when we’re out.”
Dr Rosie Robison, an energy expert from Anglia Ruskin University, said it raised wider questions on whether the focus should be on individuals using less energy or the “wider responsibilities for landlords or homeowners, housebuilders and government for thinking about how our homes can require less fossil fuel in the first place”.
A third of all food made for human consumption is wasted every year – costing the average UK family £700 each year, estimates suggest.
The students were challenged to cut their food waste by 50% and move to the planetary health diet – a plant-based diet with small amounts of meat and fish.
Dr Elliot Woolley, a senior lecturer in sustainable manufacturing at Loughborough University, encouraged them to store their food more carefully to stop it becoming spoiled, plan their meals and prepare the right amount of food for the people eating.
He said that they found the challenge hard, but had reduced their food waste from 8.1lb to 6.8lb, which he described as “a fairly small reduction”.
Dr Woolley added: “One of the things it shows is even when you’re aware of the problem and you’re trying to reduce waste, it’s so ingrained into how we waste and use food that actually we continue with these large amounts.”
Housemate Will Smith said their waste totals were boosted by food bought before the challenge which had started to go off, but admitted: “I don’t think we did too well.”
But he said it had changed his mindset and he would continue trying not to waste food in future.
The Sustainable Students series was produced and directed by Owen Kean and Tom Yeates, with research by Curtis Gallant and Simon O’Leary.