Self Portrait

Self Portrait
Holly Pepper

Tread Lightly

Currently I am undertaking an internship in Utrecht, Netherlands with the renowned design team consisting of Tejo Remy + Rene Veenhuizen. Through this blog I plan to document my design experience in Holland.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Material Reuse

For the past couple of weeks I have been tinkering around in my workshop space with lots of PET plastic straps that wrap around packs of bricks. I have developed an eagle eye for worksites and skip bins. There have been plenty of occasions lately when I am cruising the streets of Perth on my bike and I spot a special piece of material on a roadside chuck out, so I rig up a novel little contraption that enables to cart the material and make my way home. Findi

ng these roadside treasures fills me with a lot of inspiration, the endless possibilities of creative uses makes my

 mind tick..


I have also been visiting REMIDA a facility, which collects clean, light industrial waste for use in creative projects. REMIDA is based in West Perth, a little too close to my home. I feel like I am in material heaven at REMIDA. I am regularly scooting back to collect more treasures. I have had to gather some restraint, to prevent my studio space from overflowing from material. Slowly my studio space grows and grows with stacks of re-usable materials.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Siapo Making in Samoa

Today I visited Makulata a local Samoan Siapo maker. Makulata lives in a remote village named Siutu in Savaii. Through the help of Samoan socialite Steve Brown, I was able to track down a lesson on Siapo making. Siapo is a natural fabric or paper fiber made from mulberry bark. At the conclusion of a skillful two-hour session session of scrapping and beating the mulberry bark a surprisingly long length of fabric appeared approximately 1.5 meters by 5 meters.

Today Siapo is just used for decorative purposes, or as tourist souvenirs that travelers purchase. However, back before the missionaries arrived in Samoa, Samoans would dress in Siapo, completely natural and biodegradable clothing.


Once again another inspiring sustainable design experience. You really have to praise the work of cultural preservationists and historians who assist in documenting and preserving these traditional practices. It is traditional practices like Siapo making that I am attempting to learn from.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seeking Samoan Inspiration

I don’t need to read glossy design magazines for my inspiration. Instead I would prefer to go more primitive and get amongst traditional cultures for inspiration to my design work. For the past three days I have been cycling Savaii, an island in Samoa. Savaii is 300km round trip covered in lush tropical landscape

, with pristine oceans surrounding it’s shores. I am back immersing myself in Samoa for a short holiday, ten months on from undertaking a long term volunteer placement here.


On this relatively small and isolated island you still see a lot of traditional Samoan culture practiced today. People source there food by practicing self substance farming, running small scale farms to provided the family home with fresh food. A lot of S

amoans live in fales, open grass hu

ts made from various hardwoods and coconut palms. Traditionally you eat from woven coconut leaf plates. Fruit and Vegetables are transported and are sold in hand woven coconut baskets.

These guys are living, breathing examples of Eco design and sustainable living. The Despite being colonised by Germany over one hundred years ago the Samoan lifestyle has not progressed or should I say regressed to full blown western consumerist culture, traditional life lives on. Samoans humbly plod away at their sustainable lifestyles without the hype at which we acclaim for adopting sustainable practices in our western lives.


So basically living in Samoa as a volunteer over the past year has had an enormous impact on how I practice as a designer. I spent a few months questioning the need for more designs and products in our world after returning home, when in Samoa things haven’t really progressed, the genius designs have been born from tradition and the primitiveness of the culture. But when you are born with a making gene it is just inherent and you can’t stop making things, it is the process and materials that I employ that I am attempting to alter to positive sustainable design solution.


It is through this design project that I want to try to express the impact this year has had on me, exploring Eco Design solutions, which re-use or recycle. So far it has been weaving plastic straps from the jungle of masonry that surrounds me in my home context.

Midland Atelier

Midland Atelier
The Water Tower Studio.

The Water Tower View

The Floor Mat

The Floor Mat
This is an organic looking floor mat I am creating. It was inspired by mold crawling up the wall