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craft&design Selected

  Selected Makers

Katcha Bilek

It was in 1999, when I was living in a converted fire engine that the eco-design story began. I became so aware of the abandoned materials that were around me and it struck me that with some imagination they could be reconstructed into something beautiful and useful. Using my knowledge of leatherwork techniques, I began creating handbags and wallets made from lorry inner tubes & car seatbelts, and made belts out of bike tyres.

My studio is now set firmly in the arts community of Stokes Croft, Bristol, where one-of-a-kind eco-friendly products continue to evolve.

I focus on the design and aesthetic of each product. My instinct is to re-use materials that are in good condition, which is why I'm naturally drawn to using inner tubes and other strong materials to make the bags. I design for men and women, and many of the styles come directly from the form the rubber has already - it is not a flat piece of material. Each item is unique due to the nature of the material used; a design can be cut from the same pattern but the outcome will never be quite the same. 

My work has been commissioned by major companies including Sony, where a collection of bespoke laptop bags was designed to raise Sony's green profile. 

My goals: The social and environmental standards in the fashion industry (and all other industries) are of utmost importance to me, and my business exists not only because of my passion for designing but also in order to make a difference in areas that so desperately need it. I know that by running a company that promotes awareness of ethical issues and environmental solutions I can be part of that change.

People are drawn to my work because it is interesting, but also exists from this idea of reducing waste rather adding to it. By making products that are as equally beautiful as they are useful, I find that my work inspires people to reassess their own use of materials and products in everyday life.

craft&design Selected Silver Award Winner 2013
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"So long, and thanks for all the fish"

After very many years of craft&design we've decided that we'd like to retire and so in 7 days we will close the craft&design website, including craft&design Online and the craft&design Selected Makers and Craft and Design Month websites. We've had a brilliant 35 years and would like to thank all our readers, advertisers, writers, contributors and website visitors for their support throughout that time. Our very best wishes to you all for the future - Angie and Paul.