Timo Rissanen & Zero Waste Design
I was lucky enough to be connected to Timo Rissanen via a chance encounter I had with a Sustainable Material Developer at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Timo is an Educator, Artist and Designer. He is Finnish born and Australian educated and has called NYC home for the last decade. Timo is a leading voice on Sustainable and Zero Waste Fashion. He holds a PhD on Zero Waste Fashion Design and has co-published two books on fashion and sustainability, Shaping Sustainable Fashion with Gwilt in 2011 and Zero Waste Fashion Design with McQuillan in 2016. He has been the Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability at Parsons School of Design since 2010. Prior to meeting he sent me a fantastic presentation by Annie Leonard who is a leading voice in sustainability. She echoed similar feelings which I had had of late regarding the importance of incorporating many voices in to the zero waste conversation, particularly the government because without governmental support no large scale impact can be made.
Timo's office sits high above fifth avenue in Manhattan at the renowned Parsons School of Design, packed full of green leafy plants and and books. Timo is warm, welcoming and passionate about his subject. He is a keen needleworker and is strict about making time for his own creative practice. With regards to a Zero Waste approach to design he said ‘We try and fix things without addressing the problem’. He referenced the waste management hierarchy and how limited knowledge there is around it; how recycling needs to be a last option. We need to begin the design process with the end in mind.
We discussed zero waste and how it relates to all aspects of life, not just the Fashion Industry. Timo referenced how time plays a huge part in the Zero Waste problem, there is an encouraged sense of urgency amongst consumers, to buy new and not to revisit or reuse items. He believes we think of time as linear and that in the past it was a much more layered concept with returning to not only items but to ideas and concepts too. There is an obsession with newness and immediacy. The throwaway culture accepts a linear approach to time whilst an approach that Fashion collective ThreeAsFour use for example of revisiting projects and reinvesting in old ideas is much more zero waste.
3 Take Aways
- The importance of having your own creative practice outside your work (even if your work is considered creative)
- Zero Waste is a group conversation not limited to any one industry or person, everyone needs to be involved from consumers to designers to government
- Zero Waste can be applied to everything; revisit old ideas and concepts in your work, reuse and reinvent