Eco-Design Christmas Fair

Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, 13th December 2008

Written by Kirsty McGregor

It’s Saturday and everything at the Eco-Design Christmas Fair in the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, is daubed in gloominess. Thanks to the amazing British weather, the Christmas spirit is not in the air as greyness bears down through the skylights and umbrellas drip a murky trail behind each visitor. We all gravitate towards a stall selling mulled wine, but the smell – delicious at first – soon mixes with the sickly sweetness of organic soap and incense.

The fair, now in its fifth year, brings together designers whose work is centered on sustainability and kindness to the environment, the products on sale range from clothing, jewellery, toys and furniture to edible shoe polish.

The best find of the day is Finnish designer Minna Hepburn. Hepburn looks and sounds like she is channelling Claudia Schiffer, and is selling her leftover designs from London Fashion Week’s eco-sustainable show ,estethica. Her clothes, all creamy Scottish lace and organic or fair trade silk embellished with found brooches, buttons, outshine neighbouring designs. (pictured below)

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Around the relatively small space, recycled jewellery stalls clamour for attention. Rosie Weisencrantz’s display is by far the most elegant; some of her work is even framed and mounted on the wall. (pictured below) Weisencrantz was a weaver for 25 years before becoming a jewellery designer, and her pieces hang on intricately woven string. She also likes to root around at markets and on ebay for antique brooches, which she transforms into one-off, textured necklaces.

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Using an altogether different approach, Kirsty Kirkpatrick buys enormous bags of old jewellery and spends hours sifting through, detangling chains and picking out gems, before reassembling them into new designs. She uses recycled materials too, making geometric necklaces from wine and biscuit boxes. Kirkpatrick has a quick smile and soft Scottish accent, and is obviously proud of her “anti-landfill” label. (pictured below)

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After Minna Hepburn, the rest of the clothing at the fair is a bit of a let down. T-shirts are in abundance, most sporting slogans and stencilled graphics like those by design collective Edge. (Their ethos: “We will make eco-fashion cool if it kills us”). (pictured below)

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Overall, there was far more here for the eco-jewellery enthusiast than anyone else.

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