The Power Plant

From Landfill to Limited Edition Zero-Waste Design Collection

APR 22 2024

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery collaborates with an innovative design lab and women immigrant sewists to create one-of-a-kind fashion accessories made from recycled marketing materials

This Earth Day, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery is thrilled to partner with DESIGNwith and unveil Form Follows Care, a collection of unique products made from recycled marketing banners.

Production and marketing significantly contribute to social and environmental challenges. Conventional marketing practices have been criticized for their wasteful use of natural resources, especially in creating and disposing of materials destined for landfills after a single use. The Power Plant, a non-profit institution located at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, is taking strategic action to tackle these challenges by buying back its marketing waste and supporting the local initiative.

Together with DESIGNwith, a Toronto-based collaborative design lab at the forefront of the circular economy and social innovation, The Power Plant is upcycling discarded marketing banners by transforming them into a collection of zero-waste products, including one-of-a-kind tote bags, pouches, and wallets. Handcrafted by a team of talented women sewists from the Regent Park Sewing Studio, an initiative of the Toronto Centre of Learning & Development, the product line utilizes every part of the banner to eliminate waste. In addition to mindful design that promotes social and environmental sustainability, each item features a unique pattern, showcasing artworks from The Power Plant exhibitions.

Since climate change affects marginalized communities the most, it is important to consider people and the planet during the design process. This innovative project exemplifies this principle with an exceptional result of a zero-waste collection promoting a more equitable future. From theory to practice, DESIGNwith lab embodies a caring design practice that considers people, undervalued skills, materials, and the environment as vital parts of an alternative economy.

“We are excited to engage communities in rethinking marketing waste and to add beautiful new items to The Power Plant Shop. We’re finding new ways to make marketing materials part of the circular economy, new ways for social innovation, and new ways for building a more equitable and sustainable future.”
—Carolyn Vesely, Executive Director of The Power Plant

“We are thrilled about this partnership, as it calls for a collective effort to foster a circular economy and promote social change. The collection, Form Follows Care, celebrates our grassroots collaboration with Regent Park and our dedication to inclusive design practices aimed at zero waste. Our design strategy honours the original structure of the banner by deliberately using the entire edge for straps, the middle section for the tote, and the remaining material for wallets and pouches.”
—Ranee Lee, Founder of DESIGNwith

"We at the Toronto Centre of Learning & Development are immensely proud to be part of this groundbreaking initiative. Through our Regent Park Sewing Studio, we’ve seen first-hand the transformative power of combining traditional skills with innovative design to reduce waste and empower our community. This project aligns with our mission to enhance employability and community engagement and serves as a beacon of hope for sustainable practices in the industry. It's a testament to what we can achieve when we come together to support social innovation, environmental sustainability, and community development."
—Alfred Jean-Baptiste, Executive Director of the Toronto Centre of Learning & Development

All products will be available at The Power Plant Shop beginning May 2, 2024. Visit the gallery in person to see the variety of fashion accessories and choose your favourite!

To activate the Form Follows Care campaign and create space for wider audiences to engage with the idea of a circular economy, The Power Plant and DESIGNwith invite you to a series of interactive events at the gallery. This May, join us for an educational talk with the founder of DESIGNwith, Ranee Lee, and a hands-on workshop with the DESIGNwith lab’s Managing Creative Director, Katya Koroscil, and Regent Park Sewing Studio members. Learn more about the programming and sign up HERE.