LoveToKnow was very excited for the opportunity to talk to Ann Wizer in this recycled handbags interview. Ann heads up the XSProject, which turns trash into treasure.
Recycled Handbags Interview with Ann Wizer
About Ann Wizer
LoveToKnow (LTK): Tell us a little bit about your design background.
Ann Wizer (AW): That's a good way to start, because I have no design background at all! My background is in fine arts and I've worked with all kinds of things, starting from fine crafts like glassblowing and textiles, then painting, installations, sculpture and then collaborative projects in costume and set design for theater and dance. I've always worked with "stuff," whatever it is I find in my surroundings. Long ago my surroundings were littered with lawn cuttings and nature's debris, now it's post-industrial debris.
LTK: Using items that would normally wind up in a landfill to create unique and interesting designs it a great concept. Tell us a little more about the types of items you use in creating your handbags.
AW: The handbags started, not as fashion at all, but as an environmental intervention, activism. Since we notice things more when they're out of their context, I needed to take this art and plunk it down right in public. Keeping the ideas only in the art world was too removed. I didn't want to describe our trash problems but to make something ironic and effective enough from trash itself, to sell it right back to people. In doing so, the bags actually become vehicles that teach... little walking art works, and each owner can tell the story of waste. As to what I use in the bags, I'm interested in re-using any industrial waste material that I can transform into something interesting. It's the transformation that's important.
LTK: What is the XSProject?
AW: XS means "excess." Our tag line is "using design and education to protect the environment and reduce poverty". It's a wholistic, integrated strategy that's intended to nourish, not delete, the environment, and help those in poverty, not exploit them. In order to correct the mistakes, the education aspect is two way. Those in poverty need a way out, and the privileged need to be made aware of poverty. Finally, to compete on the market, our design needs to be good.
More About XS Handbags
LTK: You have many different types of products, including small makeup bags and totes. Tell us a little about the different products we can expect to see from your line.
AW: Hopefully we will be narrowing the line and doing more frequent design changes. I hope to introduce more kinds of waste materials in the designs-keep it interesting. After all, it's all about innovation.
LTK: What purse are you carrying right this minute?
AW: A very funky saddle bag with every color in it, made from re-used plastic bags by a 76-year-old grandma.
LTK: What can we expect to see from you in the future? Can you give us a sneak peek at upcoming products?
AW: I hope to have more designers involved at XS and I am piloting another project based on the same vision.
LTK: You are an environmentalist. What else can people recycle and reuse to help the environment?
AW: Simply, we need to rethink every single thing we consume, make a lot of sacrifices and become more demanding about what the markets toss our way. The vast majority of everything made will be in a landfill in no time. Rethink the whole idea of a landfill, they are burial grounds for our manufacturing "mistakes." We shouldn't have them at all.
LTK: Where can our readers find your products?
AW: Go to xsprojectusa.com to shop our products.
LTK: Anything you'd like to add?
AW: How about the next holiday season, let's give gifts with true substance and meaning. There are lots of fantastic projects being done around the globe.
A very warm and special thank you to Ann Wizer for taking the time to talk to us about her exciting and environmentally friendly products. Perhaps her items will inspire you to find ways to recycle material and help the environment at the same time.