6 July 2022

HKU for Arte Viva, when art meets sustainability

It all started with an observation “they are such good materials, it is a pity to throw them away”. This is what Sandra, product manager, thought while looking at a pile of scrap material in a corner of the warehouse.

What happened next is a project that involved two art university students which used these apparently useless materials to create something new, artistic, and wonderful!

Read the article to discover more!


The beginning of a creative process

The idea for this project first came to mind in December ‘21 when Sandra showed to the sustainability intern, Alice, the scraps in the warehouse. They were damaged products that could not be sold (such as scratched Child Safe Mirrors), long pieces of Finger Alert strips, the outline removed from Acoustic Clouds and other miscellaneous material which were normally accumulated and brought to recycling facilities.

It was clear that they were good materials but how to reuse them? Then, a memory emerged. The memory was about those artworks made of waste that are particularly fascinating for two reasons: they make something beautiful out of something “ugly” and they force you to think about the problem of waste.

At Arte Viva, the idea of creating art from those scraps was appealing, but we were not the right people to do that concretely, as we are not artists! Therefore, we found and contacted HKU, the University of the Arts Utrecht that could help us in this project. Mai Linh Ly, internship coordinator Fine Art & Design in Education, answered to our request and we worked together to shape a project that could satisfy Arte Viva and HKU requirements.


The development

At the end of February ‘22 the project was formally launched with a kick-off meeting and project presentation at Arte Viva office, where we first met the students that joined.

Laurissa Back and Nathalie Van den Berg showed a lot of enthusiasm from the very first moment. We explained the idea behind the project and what we expected from them. The main requirement was basing the artwork on the theme “sustainability and child safety”, as Arte Viva cares a lot about these topics. Sustainability is at the core of this project as it is a way to avoid disposal of good materials, while artists do not have to buy brand new resources. This is just a small action, an invitation to everybody to rethink their “business as usual” and search for inspiration in different sectors.

Then, from March to June, the students had time to develop their artwork using the scrap material that Arte Viva provided and brought to HKU. In addition to that, Arte Viva provided an initial budget of €30 to buy all the art supplies that they could need.


A (wonderful) outcome

Some days ago, in June 2022 a final meeting took place at Arte Viva. The students brought their artworks and presented them. They did not disappoint Arte Viva expectations and were able to transform scrap material in beautiful and meaningful masterpieces.


“Terra” by Laurissa Back

Terra is an abstract painting made with the colors of nature: blue, green and brown. Laurissa explained that, at first, she wanted to represent something more definite, but this combination of colors actually resembled a map and our Earth seen from the sky. So, she decided to keep it in that way and giving it the name of Earth, translated in Italian, Terra. She also thought that Earth is a good subject because Arte Viva ships its product all around the world and, at the same time, it cares about the environment and its preservation. The painting is made on a surface created by weaving a lot of Finger Alert strips and covering it with a layer of plaster in the middle. The creative use of these PVC strips was really surprising and innovative! Laurissa said that she had a lot of fun while creating her artwork and she enjoyed the freedom that she was left to interpret the theme.

 “Growth” by Nathalie van den Berg

Nathalie realized a sculpture starting from a Child Safe Mirror used as a base from which some flowers grow and bloom, showing delicate petals made with tiny bits of Finger Alert strips. On the base, tiny pieces of mirror reflect the viewer. When she started, she designed and created a sculpture of a child reaching for the flowers, made with the Acoustic Cloud foam but later she discarded it; sometimes less is more. Nevertheless, her idea is really nice: children can grow in a safe environment thanks to Arte Viva products, like these flowers grow from one of these products. She also enjoyed the project and, in particular, creating an artwork for someone else that requested it and gave some indications. It is something that is not usual for art students and it is a challenge that can help them develop as artists and educators.

In conclusion, Arte Viva was amazed by how well Laurissa and Nathalie creatively interpreted the subject and brought a sparkle of art in the company. From now on, the artworks will be proudly displayed in the office in Wijk bij Duurstede. We believe that this experience enriched both Arte Viva and HKU students in many ways and pushed everybody to think more about sustainability and waste. Sometimes what is considered waste is just “one creative idea away” from having a second life and become useful again! As a matter of fact, some more material was brought to the LDD (Lucrative Dumpster Dives) corner of HKU, a free space where a lot of different materials are collected and HKU students can pick them for free for their artworks. Happily, we discovered that Arte Viva materials were taken rapidly and were considered good! This is not an excuse for creating waste but, at the same time, it is a way to reuse some waste that is unavoidable, while we are looking for ways to stop creating it. This project is just another step in becoming more sustainable and we hope it will inspire others to act, more sustainably and more creatively.