Rewilder is a young, sustainable brand based in California. Gessato recently came across their apron design, upcycled from beer filter cloth and climbing ropes, and had to add it to the Gift Guide. Yet, that cool kitchen accessory is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Rewilder is working on a bevy of products, furthering their environmentally conscious mission. Learn more about the brand’s past, history, and future in the interview below, and check back soon to shop Rewilder’s designs in the Gessato store.
Gessato: Los Angeles is not a city that one would usually associate with environmental causes, so, in a way, it’s especially good to see that your business is there making a change. How did Rewilder come to call Hollywood its creative home?
Rewilder: Los Angeles is an incredibly diverse place surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, with a vibrant community of environmental activists, artists and makers. It is a place for big dreams and big change. We are constantly inspired by the natural landscape that surrounds us, and also by the history, culture and industry of the city itself. We have both lived in Hollywood for over ten years, and it was a natural fit for us to stay nearby. We rented a small studio in walking distance to our homes, and Rewilder HQ was born. Over the course of the last year, we have even greater appreciation for the diversity and eccentricity of Hollywood, where you never know what adventure the day will bring.
While we are rooted in Hollywood, we also camp, hike, climb, and swim in the mountains and beaches just outside of LA. We take Rewilder field trips to places as varied as the Puente Hills Material Recovery Facility (to see how our trash is processed), the Gentle Barn (to commune with animals), and the Craft and Folk Art Museum (to practice weaving skills). There are constant opportunities to learn from Los Angeles.
G: Minimizing the environmental impact of Rewilder goods is clearly a priority throughout design and production. What does sustainability mean to you?
R: For Rewilder, sustainability centers on a simple idea—take unique, strong materials that are being thrown away and give them a second life. We are part of a movement that explores a new way of making—carbon-negative—opposing the current industrial process that we are all hauntingly familiar with. Rewilder is socially and environmentally responsible, where creativity aligns with process and product. We carefully consider each step to be sure that we are designing responsibly, manufacturing with respect for the environment, and making beautiful goods that are built to last.
Repurposing extends the useful life of a material. It is a material evolution from industrial byproduct to design object. Repurposing means that we are not making new material; instead, we’re careful to use materials that are already made. This is better than recycling, with greater positive environmental impact.
As designers, we feel responsible for educating people about the things we make and consume. We believe that design is a powerful tool with the ability to influence thoughts and action.
G: The two main materials used in Rewilder designs are salvaged beer filter cloth and climbing gym rope. Would either of you consider yourself beer drinkers or rock wall climbers?
R: We are both outdoor adventurers, although have only rock climbed with rope a handful of times. Jenny loves beer. Lisa, unfortunately, is allergic to beer.
G: How did you choose your materials?
R: We discovered our primary material when Jenny was teaching a Materials Innovation class at Art Center in Pasadena, doing research on post-industrial salvage. It was immediately clear that this material has unique properties perfect for repurposing—strength, beauty, lightness—and we began testing to understand the best ways to work with it. Every sheet of filter cloth we get is unique, dyed naturally to a particular “Beer Brindle” color by the hops and barley during its first life in the big brewery. We sort material on a gradient from lightest coppery tones to a deep patina of dark grey.
The salvage climbing ropes became a part of our process after months of testing. The ropes we use also have ideal properties to complement our bags—strong, versatile, and lightweight—and we have developed a process (molting) to make the ropes flat, comfortable, and wide.
Using salvage materials greatly reduces environmental demand involved in manufacturing new product, and we are constantly exploring and identifying new materials to transform into high design.
G: After your accessories wear out, people can send them back to you for recycling. It’s a great way to continue the life of your already-upcycled products. Has anyone sent an item back yet? How long are the bags expected to last?
R: Our bags are extremely durable, lasting years with proper care. Our preference is always to reuse material before recycling, which stops the cycle of production and consumption of new materials. We have not gotten an end-of-life bag back yet, but our goal is to repurpose the fabric into a smaller patterns that continue to value the material as-is for as long as possible.
G: Thanks for “speaking” with Gessato. Can you share a final nugget of inspiration with our readers, or perhaps a hint about what’s next for Rewilder?
Our name, Rewilder, is inspired by the wolves of Yellowstone National Park, reintroduced into the ecosystem in 1995 after being killed off 70 years earlier. This is called rewilding. The results were dramatic, starting a cascade of growth and change that brought back many animals, regenerated plant life, and stabilized the river. This amazing transformation inspired us to begin our own transformation, giving strong, valuable materials a second life and reintroducing them to the world.
We are deep into development of our spring capsule collection—the CAUTION collection—which will launch April 25 at the Jackalope Art Fair in Pasadena.
We are also revving up for a Kickstarter campaign in the spring to save a ton (literally, 2000 pounds) of material from the landfill. We are designing an exclusive style for this campaign that will be versatile, modern, minimal, and, of course, made with environmental integrity.