The Brunel Foundation embraces the concept of upcycling: transforming old, worn or otherwise 'unusable' materials into something that is valuable and functional again. Reviving unique items with a story. In this way, 'waste' that would normally add to our existing mountains of trash is given a new lease of life. That saves money and has a positive impact on the environment.
One of the upcycling partners of the Brunel Foundation is NAAICE, a startup launched by Tessa Arnold. During her studies of industrial design in Delft, Tessa discovered that many materials from events are thrown away after just a single use.
How did the idea for NAAICE come about?
'I started upcycling in 2019 when I was a member of a student association in Delft. These associations buy new banners and flags every year, especially for the student introduction week. They are only used for a short period of time and then thrown away. What a waste!
I've also been making my own clothes since I was 13, so I thought, what can I do with these materials? I took some banners home and put them under the sewing machine. That worked surprisingly well. I started designing special banner items for friends, family and other students. Based on their tips and advice, I then refined my products.’
What message would you like to spread?
‘It's important to have people think about what materials they order. Is it necessary to buy new ones every year? How could you maybe reduce the amount? I notice that, because of my focus on reducing and upcycling, I also inspire the people around me to think about their own use. Besides, for me it's essential to demonstrate that sustainability and affordable products can go hand in hand. You don’t need to have non-transparent layers in the process.’
Why do you collaborate with the Brunel Foundation?
‘Together, NAAICE and the Brunel Foundation turn used Brunel-branded items into something new and unique. Old roller banners are transformed into toiletry bags, while flags are given a new life as bags, or as sustainable party decorations.
I like sparring with the customer about my products. That’s one reason why I really like to work with the Brunel Foundation. It gives me new ideas and leads to the best results. Through this collaboration, my upcycled creations will also travel the world, which is great.’
What is your ambition for NAAICE?
‘I'm at a tipping point now. I've just graduated so I am not sure yet. My ambition is to keep NAAICE fairly small. My main goal is to spread the message. By keeping it small, I have more contact with my customers. I would love to have my own atelier one day where I can focus on more exclusive design products. But for now, I am totally happy with NAAICE in its current stage.’