What inspired you to create Made In Sample? Clive Sit: “I’ve been an interior designer for 15 years. I noticed that a lot of samples we use, fabric as well as other materials, eventually go to waste. Realising that these materials could be repurposed, I started Made in Sample four years ago. That was how we created the look of our patchwork cushions.”

Where do you get the samples? Sam Fu: “From fabric suppliers who work on hotel and residential projects; from interior design firms, who have so many samples in their material library, which they replace each season; and from architectural companies, which use fabric and other samples for their projects.”

Hong Kong upcycling group on urban renewal, community and making good use of what’s thrown away

Tell us about your production process. Terry Law: “We try to involve as much of the community as possible. We employ mentally disabled people, who help us to cut the samples into a standard size. We also have retired garment workers who can patch and sew our designs together. We also work with people from St James’ Settlement [a charity that provides services to children, young people and the elderly, as well as counselling services], who help us with packaging.”

Reducing Hong Kong’s waste, one upcycled product at a time

Made In Sample also provides design services. What does this involve? Law: “We’ve done a few charity bazaars with Swire Properties, helping them to understand the concept of upcycling. It’s not just a brand-building concept, but a way to help and support the local community. We’ve created a wallpaper-art installation and denim-patchwork partitions, and also conducted workshops with NGO partners. Our goal is to change each corporate client’s perspective, ensuring they are not just using NGOs, but instead really contributing to the community.”

Has the general public been receptive to your concept? Sit: “In Hong Kong, people don’t really under­stand the upcycling concept. They think the materials come from rubbish. We want to show people that they don’t need to buy our products out of empathy or charity, but because of the aesthetic and quality. Our products, which are made from European and American materials, are more fitting of a luxury brand.”

Upcycling is the way forward for award-winning designers

What’s next? Fu: “We are working on eco-banners with Polytechnic University made from sample fabrics. Later, the patchwork banners will be turned into cushions.”