Notes from Ben Kreeger on the adidas Originals x Parley launch in London
From the start, our partnership with adidas has been about harnessing the powers of collaboration and eco innovation to set a new standard for the ways brands participate in the protection of our oceans. Though focused primarily on addressing the threat of marine plastic pollution, this commitment goes beyond the products and materials we create. It requires and depends upon new ways of thinking, living and working together on a finite, blue planet.
As a founding member of Parley, adidas is committed to creating change across all levels of the brand's ecosystem, adopting the Parley AIR Strategy and weaving its principles into the fabric of their culture. Redesigning faulty materials and methods is a challenge. It’s also an opportunity to become a leader in the growing and vitally important fields of social and environmental responsibility.
Although the adidas x Parley alliance is best known for the products we co-create, the biggest shifts are happening behind the scenes. Answers to complex problems are rarely straight-forward and long-term solutions cannot be achieved overnight. Improvement requires a constant assessment and reassessment of the status quo. This process is driven by asking the right questions. For instance, how does one introduce an eco-innovative product and partnership in a manner that’s consistent with the goals of the greater mission? The responsibility of finding the answer — or right questions — to this one fell, in part, on the shoulders of event producer Ben Kreeger as he prepared for the adidas Originals x Parley launch event in London.
We asked Ben to share notes on his process. Read his learnings below:
Identify the goals, set the stage.
Before I begin, I should say that the design of many of the elements were handled by the team at Superimpose Studio. The initial concept that we presented to adidas focused on creating different environments within the event space — something we felt aligned with the overall aims of the project. However, after discussing this concept with adidas and doing further research, we shifted our focus, and began to think about the ways we could reduce the overall environmental impact of the event. In the end, we managed to deliver an event with 90% of materials used in its production coming from either reclaimed or recycled sources.
Work with existing elements.
The build included two different product displays, which we had custom made. Although we originally considered making both of these from reclaimed wood, we became aware that we would in fact reduce the potential for this material to be recycled, post-event, by using it in the way we were proposing.
Showstudio, the space in which the event was held, uses a scaffold frame for their in-house panel discussions. Taking inspiration from this, and after some discussion with our manufacturing partner, we agreed with adidas to use reclaimed scaffold tubes/fixtures to build the display frames.
Consider the future and minimize waste.
The materials, which were due to be scrapped, were purchased from a scaffolding company based in Tottenham, North London. After the event, these materials were repurposed by our manufacturing partner to create desks for a number of live/work units, not far from the scaffolding company they were originally purchased from.
In addition to this, the plastic bottles used in the display were donated to a visual artist based in the same live/work units (who is planning to use them for a new piece of work) and the Parley trainers returned to adidas.
Research and connect.
Whilst researching furniture for the space we became aware that the majority of available options, either to purchase or hire, were designed and manufactured with very little consideration of their impact on the environment. After looking into a number of recycled cardboard furniture options, our manufacturing partner introduced us to Will Gladwin, a designer who uses reclaimed wood provided by a local tree surgeon.
When we visited Will at his workshop, he showed us the various pieces of trees he had stored in his yard. He began telling us about a beech tree that had been hit by lightning last winter, that he had recently salvaged. Due to its condition, the wood was unsuitable for a lot of the projects Will had undertaken, but he suggested that, perhaps, it would be suitable for a set of stools.
Again, think ahead.
Will manufactured the 20 stools used for the event in less than a week, and less than a week after the event, these same stools were being repurposed into chopping boards and bowls.
Consider the details.
In addition to these two core elements, we sourced photo paper and boards made of recycled stock, and researched the potential benefits of carbon offsetting. Whilst we did not invest in a carbon offsetting scheme for this event, by sourcing everything locally we managed to further reduce the overall environmental impact considerably.
Learn from the process.
Through our involvement in this project, we not only learned a lot more about the ways in which materials can be recycled and repurposed, but how much more work there is to do to ensure events of this type are delivered responsibly and sustainably.
There a million ways to make your events plastic/waste-free and minimize potential environmental impacts. The Parley AIR Strategy is designed to be flexible and adaptable to the situation.
Visit Ben's website here
Learn more about the adidas Originals x Parley launch