The story of rēfuse starts with a fascination of simple materials and a life long appreciation of creating something out of nothing.
As a designer, I have always been most inspired by examples of people being resourceful; people finding creative solutions within the limitations they may be confronted with. I am the product of a mother who in the 60’s recognized the importance of recycling: sorting, bundling, flattening, then shuttling to the recycling center to neatly unload. That was common practice in Portland, Oregon at the time.
It is for all those reasons that after working with this unique fabric for several years designing and developing light fixtures, I almost felt obligated to figure out some re-use of even the smallest scraps. This 100% polyethylene fabric, in all its brilliant colors, is fully recyclable but the fabric seemed too nice to waste, especially because re-using uses a fraction of the energy required for recycling.
Somewhere around 2010, as a way to keep my boys occupied at my work, I suggested they figure out a way to make some wallets out of the fabric scraps. Those first attempts proved to be surprisingly functional, and I was struck by the ultra thin results, compared to most wallets. That led to more experimentation and eventually selling wallets at a friend’s store in the neighborhood. With more positive results and a growing realization that the fabric is perfectly suited for such a product, rēfuse was born.
With two boys quickly discovering the joys of making: art, hats, clothes, skateboards, food, etc., I’ve decided to help elevate this idea into a small, and viable business that my boys can participate in as they get older. I hope to build a shared learning experience with my boys, and support and inspire a life of creating.
So begins the quest to rē-use this fabric by designing and crafting new and useful goods.
- Brent Markee
The multi-colored wallet, pictured on the turquoise background, is one that I have personally sat on every day for roughly the last three years.