What is sustainable design?

Generally, sustainable design indicates that a product is designed in a way that takes the reduction of social, environmental and economic impacts to its heart. Minimizing these impacts as much as possible. The goal is to lessen and ideally, eliminate humans’ dependence on natural resources like oil, water, coal and air. This is done by looking at every step in the life cycle of a product; from raw materials, production, transport, to use by customer and the end of its life.

At Quazi we want to be transparent and we continuously make environmentally beneficial choices when designing our products. By using only waste paper we are limiting the impact on natural resources. Our raw material is 100% recycled. All our paints and glues are water based, sourced locally, and we use local pigments and red ochre taken straight from the earth to add color. These choices inform our product development and the basis of our production. We use a local custom-made eco varnish to coat our pulp products and protect them. Some jewelry pieces require a stronger varnish. We minimize water use at the workshop and reuse where we can. And we use the sun’s rays for drying. This process is slow, and handmade, and means that at every step in our production process we are aware of the impact on the environment.

Our social impact is also at the heart of our business, our artisans are paid living wages and we strive to provide working conditions and an enviornemnt that is supportive and healthy. Each product is made from start to finish by one artisan rather than a supply chain. We provide permanent contracts for our artisans, with access to loans and capacity building including training. We have created our own techniques and train in-house in metal work, sewing, paper jewelery and home ware creation. Working very closely as a team and considering each and every person we work with we have worked with the same group of women since we started. Piece pricing is negotiated together with our artisans and there is full transparency including how we order with them, while providing all tools and materials. All work is undertaken at our central workshop with no child labor.

A large majority of our sales is export so transport is a challenge the further away our customers are. We have a local retail shop and we welcome visitors to our workshop, as well as wholesale customers in South Africa and across the globe. Our jewellery can be worn everyday, it is light, strong and makes an original statement, and we design with durability in mind. Once our products are at the end of their life they biodegrade back into the earth while the brass compoments can be infinitely recycled. Our home products are design objects, they can be cleaned with a damp cloth, used as a vase with a glass inside, and will also biodegrade in landfill if they have come to the end of their life.