In 2016, the United Nations announced that nearly 45 million metric tons of electronic waste had been generated – an increase of 8% from two years ago.
Jessica Chuan Yi Xin is a Singaporean artist and founder of Rehyphen®, a project aimed to upcycle discarded cassette tapes into eco-friendly handwoven MusicCloth®, intended to raise awareness for upcycling and the global problem of e-waste.
“We weave our music, we replay our cassette tapes”
As an advocate for the environment, Chuan had the idea to find a way to reuse material she found rather than contributing to the growing issue of e-waste. She stumbled upon a stash of forgotten cassette tapes in her room and, with a bit of ingenuity and research, she developed the innovative textile in 9 months. She started using cassette tapes donated by friends and family.
In 2016, she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for MusicCloth® tote bags, which became very successful. Not only did it raise the funds needed to take the project to the next level, but it also allowed Chuan to collect cassette tapes from donors around the world.
Chuan weaves MusicCloth® by hand in a simple yet very intensive process. Besides the tote bags, this malleable material has also been used to create art, wallets, notebooks and dresses.
Through Airbnb’s “Experiences” platform, Rehyphen® also expanded to offer workshops and teach visitors in Singapore how to weave MusicCloth® creations. In addition to the recognition by the University of Pennsylvania and Red Dot 21, the globally recognized textile has also even found a place in New York City’s Material ConneXion library.
Moreover, the material was recently entered in the Golden Pin Design Award’s new Integration Design category.
“We hope to encourage people to see waste with fresh perspective, and get curious about how things are made,” Chuan said. “We throw things away for they are broken, no longer useful or having lost their charm. We, however, elevate everyday objects to a work of art, and to show that up-cycling art is not an environment movement but instead is a reminder that observing the other side of existence is the essence of art.”