Reth!nk design makes reusable gift wraps, with two designs on offer.
The first is made from reused and leftover materials foraged from op shops and industry waste. Each design is one of a kind, reincarnating ‘waste’ into something beautiful and functional.
The second design, the heirloom wrap, made from organic cotton and eco-friendly inks, was a finalist in the Tasmanian Design Awards.
Kirsty’s inspiration for her gift wrap came in the mid-nineties. She recalls being at a wedding where the couple decided to open their gifts then and there. She remembers them ripping through present after present, a tower of wrapping paper piling up, ready to be unceremoniously carted off to landfill.
‘I just thought what a waste,’ she says, ‘that's just a resource that's had a few minutes of use and it's gone. So, I thought there must be a better way.’
And so, the idea was born. Unfortunately, it was way ahead of its time and was put on the shelf for a few decades until the timing was ripe.
In 2019, Kirsty received a photo from an old friend. It was of her mother’s Christmas tree, underneath which were presents wrapped in Kirsty’s now 20-year-old wraps. They had been reused by the family Christmas after Christmas.
Kirsty thought it a shame that no record had been kept of each wrap’s journey, documenting the occasions it had been shared. She saw these wraps had value beyond their material function; they also told stories.
This inspired the heirloom wrap, patterned with open leaves in which people can leave their mark through writing or stitching. The idea is that over time the wrap will become tattooed with mementos and memories, stories etched deeper with each exchange.
‘Narrative and storytelling is really important for valuing things,’ she says, ‘And if we value them, we're less likely to throw them away.’
Storytelling is a common thread in Kirsty’s work it seems. Perhaps the most palpable example of this is her Bye Buy! Pop up Shop, a community project in Launceston which she established as part of her PhD.
A very unconventional shop, nothing could be bought or sold. Instead, Bye Buy! facilitated four stations, each exploring a branch of sustainable exchange.
The Swap Shop invited people to trade in unused items. There was a catch though; they needed to provide a story to accompany their old item, revealing details such as where they got it and why they no longer used it, and these stories really took off.
‘It was so amazing to see people going through these things. They weren't looking at the objects; they were looking at the stories. It was the stories that were really inspiring, and they attached a value,’ Kirsty says fondly.