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Design student inspires with up-cycling exhibition

Design student inspires with up-cycling exhibition and workshops

Tessa’s Bar

An Otago Polytechnic student is creating beautiful, practical furniture and furnishings from unwanted objects that would otherwise be cast aside – and she wants to encourage others to do the same.

Third-year Bachelor of Design (Communication) student, Tessa Hewlett, is breathing new life into such materials, building furniture from surplus crates and pallets, and creating soft furnishings from fabrics gifted to her by the Otago Hospice Shop.

From quilts to reupholstered chairs, lamps and footstools, planter box seats, a bar and a table with its own built-in chilli-bin, Tessa’s venture, Dad & Me, forms part of her final third-year project.

Her creations will be exhibited in the front windows of the Otago Hospice Shop on Crawford Street, Dunedin next month. The aim is to inspire others, while also providing a platform for the sale of the products. From 5-11 October, her soft furnishings will be displayed for sale, with all proceeds from going to the Otago Hospice. The following week, 12-18 October, her furniture will be on show and available for purchase.

Additionally, Tessa will be taking workshops to teach people how to make their own “up-cycled” bar stools as part of the Vogel St. Street Party on Saturday 18 October.

“I want people to see that this is something they could do themselves,” she explains. “The physical creation of my designs has been a collaborative process with friends and family, reinforcing the idea that this is something everyone can potentially do. Perhaps you are already doing it without really realising it.”

For Tessa, it’s been a lifelong passion.

“I’ve always been interested in DIY and making things,” she says. “I remember the first flat I moved into, Dad and I up-cycled my headboard, drawers, bedside tables and my desk. It’s something I know I’ll be doing forever.”

Otago Polytechnic’s Communications Design Academic Leader, Caroline McCaw, is impressed with Tessa’s initiative.

“Tessa has found a passion for design revival and a way of working that has set her on fire,” she says. “It's great to see her work with the local community to share her vision and innovative designs.”

Dad & Me Exhibition and Sale
5-18 October
Otago Hospice Shop
Crawford Street, Dunedin

Up-cycled Stools Workshops
Saturday 18 October, 3.15pm-4.00pm and 4.15pm-5.00pm
Vogel St. Street Party
In the car park at 76 Vogel and 40 Jetty Streets, Dunedin

Tessa’s blog:


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