For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This Interview is with Zoe Dunn, an artist, designer, maker based in Bristol. Mainly working in recycled, waste & scrap materials.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.
Hey! My name is Zoe, I am an artist/designer/maker from Bristol.
I make sustainable leather accessories and jewellery. I started my business a couple of years ago having previously worked at as a seamstress for some incredible leatherwear designers.
My work is rooted in my love of nature and the escapism of a big view. In a different life I am a painter, which I think informs my design instincts. My commissions, in particular, are titled. There is a story in my mind when I’m making special pieces for customers.
How or why did you get started?
I started my business because I saw that there was an enormous amount of very high quality useable leather going to waste. I saw an opportunity to prevent waste going to landfill and felt there was potential to repurpose all of the incredible pieces that other designers or industry cant use.
I work entirely in scrap and waste leather and suede to hand craft one-off pieces to be treasured. I’m on a mission to prove that waste isn’t a dirty word, waste is beautiful, don’t be a waster!
What is your favourite thing about the materials that you work with?
Leather hides have been used by humans for time immemorial, it feels like a real privilege to work with such an ancient material.
I love the delicate nature of the finest suede and glove leather, the durability of the heavier cow hides and bag leather and the fantastic array of colours that I receive.
How has working sustainably impacted your non-business life?
I am definitely very conscious of what I buy and who from. There are lots of small businesses like mine working sustainably, working slower and healthier making wonderful things. I much prefer to buy less but really value what I have.
Can you recommend any other makers or businesses that work in an ethical or sustainable way?
A ridiculously talented designer and maker, Tovi has supported and encouraged me for years now. He hand makes incredible wearable contactless tech and other accessories from the finest leather which he prints, cuts, stitches and finishes himself from his studio in Stroud. These are life enhancing, practical beautiful designs at their finest.
Well known for her stunning wooden geo vessels, lamps, vases and jewellery, Beck is tireless force in sustainable design and her products retain the beautiful quality that you only really get with handmade products.
I have worked in the Priormade workshop for over three years now and I love it! We continuously tweek the processes and materials we use to find the most efficient and responsible way to work.
Where can we find you on the internet/buy your work?
Photographs by @zoedunndesigns