This week, I’d like to introduce you a great eco-friendly designer from Norway, Unni Strand. The girl does everything! From up-cycling, organic gardening, mom extraordinaire and a great teacher who inspires her students to be more earth friendly and eco-conscious.
Tell us a little bit about you.
My name is Unni Strand, I live in Norway, have two children (18 and 4), a partner and a cat. I feel fortunate. And of course, I am!
I live close to the wood and not far from big cities. (OK, I know that’s relative, since Norway’s biggest city is Oslo and have only 550 000 inhabitants…)
I love chocolate, eggplant, cats, hens, latte, flowers, printing, sewing and spring. And I truly care about the environment!
So you live in Norway, Tell us a little bit about your country.
I asked my son to help me with this one. He says: “We think we have a lot of snow, but we don’t. And it’s cold and awful.” And I guess it is partly true, if you don’t dress well. But with the right clothing you could have a great time outside with the children in winter. And summer is occasionally warm and lovely. We sometimes even have real heat periods. I am proud to tell that I grow peaches and grapes in my garden.
What prompted you to pursue a sustainable/green lifestyle?
I have been trying to figure out where my environmental obsession started. Besides living near nature and coming from a family of gardeners, I think it might have started with the book The ark of Barbapapa (Annette Tison and Talus Taylor) I had as a child. This book discusses pollution in terms children can relate to. In short: The Barbapapa’s saving the animals, then the humans fixing the world. In the book, the world is getting more and more grey as people pollute and they also chase the animals. The Barbas come to rescue, build a spaceship and take all the animals away to a green planet. After a while, the people start to miss all the animals, clean up the world and plant trees and flowers. –Finally, all the animals return.
” I really loved the drawing of how nice the world looked when it was cleaned up and replanted. Such an inspiration, and it gave me the hope that it really is possible!”
What are examples of things that you do in your everyday life reflecting an eco-friendly and earth conscious lifestyle?
I compost the food leftovers and other vegetable and fruit waste into nutritious soil for my garden. I keep a vegetable garden. –Have grown vegetables since I was 8 years old and had my own garden since I was 20. And of course, only natural fertilizers and no spraying with pest control.
Everyone should grow some vegetables! In their garden or a container or whatever they have! There is too little food in the world and too much unused land.
I save gift wrapping paper and ribbon from presents we receive and reuse it. I use the lawn movings for mulching in flower and vegetable beds. –It keeps weeds away and provides fertilizing.
I try to buy locally grown or organic food. I try to drive as little as possible, but this is really the hardest part for me since I work far from home.
I try to make as many of my presents myself. The habit I am most proud of is that I have started to use only reusable shopping bags whenever I shop. (My partner doesn’t, so we still have plastic bags for the garbage…) The hardest part was to get used to always keeping the totes in my handbag. And of course, I use my own recycled shopping totes!
What do you do professionally? And how do you incorporate sustainability in your work?
I am a teacher, teaching art and design subjects in high school. When I talk about design or materials science, I always incorporate sustainability and fair trade. I think my students actually might be a bit fed up with this. It really surprises me how little they know and care about these issues.
In my redesign business, I reuse fabrics and I use only recycled shipping materials.
As a designer, what is your design philosophy? What inspires you?
I love to work with textile. And I have a need to create. Sometimes I am too creative for my own good and cannot sleep for all the ideas I have.
I do screen printing and redesign. I want to make new favorite objects out of old, unloved fabrics or clothes! I want to make shopping totes that make people want to use them instead of plastic bags. And I want my up-cycled t-shirts to be so cool that people prefer them before new tees.
I am inspired by nature, mostly flowers and animals. I like it if I can make my designs express a hint of humor. Before, when I did weaving I also aimed for that humor bit, but believe me, it’s far easier with printing than with the loom!
While pursuing a sustainable lifestyle, do you have any books/magazines/websites etc that you recommend where one can find info on how to incorporate eco-friendly options in our day to day life?
Who do you listen to currently? Favorite bands?
I want to share some great Norwegian artists with you!
Donkeyboy comes from the area where I live. They are quite new and have had a hit in Norway the last months. If you follow this link, you’ll hear their great song Ambitions:
I like punk, and we have this great Norwegian punk singer, Ida Maria. You can listen to her here:
And then we have the calm and masculine band, Madrugada: http://emi.no/madrugada/
What is the last book you read?
Divas don’t knit, by Gil McNeil. -A lovely book where knitting and knitting recipes play a natural part. I can’t wait to read the follower.
In 10 years, where would you like to be?
I would love it if I could make a consistent income from my designs! I hope to be able to work part time with this. But I do need my teaching too! I love working with the students!