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Putting old books to good use II

29 Feb

More ‘hard-back book’ tile color combinations.

As I said before… I love the shades of brown :). Here it has been mixed up with blue. The motif on the tiles brings the nature into the room where these are used.

Shades of brown

This is a more masculine color combination.

Shades of green.


More Buttons!!

23 Jan

I was excited when I found this being made as a window curtain or drape(don’t know what name suites it best) at the Fretex redesign work-shop in Drammen.

So cool I have to say! Buttons have no end when it comes to design ideas.

Little treasurer, are they not? especially when put together.

Think twice before ever throwing away a single button people.

Mix it up with Second generation knobs.

9 Jan

It looks good (if you like to mix things up) and is kind on the pockets.


So, the next time you are re-decorating, borrow a green leaf from what has recently been done in the redesign studio at Fretex east Norway(Ole Deviks vei )

Adapting to change.

5 Jan

As life will have it, every thing has to change. The one constant thing in life is change it’s self.

That said…

I have had a few changes in My life and work especially during the transition from 2011 to 2012

I have been living and working with Fretex Redesign Sandnes for the past 9 months. However due to structural changes in Fretex I have had to move to the Oslo branch. I started work in Oslo on Monday and I must say it felt good to start off the new Year in a new working environment.

The holiday and merry-making season is over so it’s down to business.

Day one is actually a blur now. I clearly remember hoping that I would not get lost though. It was my first trip there by myself . I went over the online travel planner (trafikanten) like I was reading for an exam the previous day. It paid off since I got there at 8:00 am sharp as I had planned to.

First thing I noticed was how much bigger the Oslo Fretex is. No surprise there though since it’s the main Branch.  The sorting room where all the clothes given to Fretex  are inspected and sorted, The redesign work shop, the Canteen…… are all much bigger. My Office space is also bigger 🙂 (and has a view). I can now watch the sun set at 3:00pm; this, I can’t get used to.

Spectacular view.

Day two,  my boxes, with all the stuff I was using in Sandnes, were delivered and I had some  un-parking to do. Still doing that at the moment but am sure by the end of this week I will be settled in nicely. 

I have to go through the embarrassing phase of forgetting people’s names within a few seconds of meeting them but other than that, all ‘s well. Every one I have met so far is really helpful and nice. I am still in the process of settling into my office and getting to know my work-mates.

Today I got a little panic attack  when I realized how little the time left for the rest of my project  is. Working with experience people helps though. I attended A meeting today were the general work plan for the month was discussed and updated. Plans were made to have certain goals achieved within a given period and ‘pending feedback’ on these goals progress will also have to be discussed

Lesson learnt: A work plan has to be made and frequently updated and communicated to whom it may concern, especially in a big company  if things are to Run as planned. NOTE, room has to be made for change.

For now, I am content with my work and the informal norsk lessons I get over lunch.

Thumbs up!

11 Sep

It is mind-boggling to discover how many tones of paper are collected on the daily at the Fretex paper recycle plant in Stavanger. 50 tones in a day, WOW! This, I found out on my visit to the plant  with Magny Tjelter  Friday 12 2011.

I got the opportunity to see what it takes to sort the paper that is put into recycle.  The tour of the plant was very interesting and educative.

First as seen below, the trucks that collect paper  from the Rogland area  are unloaded.

Another truck then shovels the paper onto  a belt which takes the paper into the first sorting cabin.

The first thing that is done is to remove any waste that does not qualify as paper, things like plastic bags, candy wrappers or plastic . Different paper grades then have to be separated and cardboard gets sorted first. It is put into a machine that compresses and ties it into bales that makes it easy for  a forklift truck to move it around. Brown cardboard actually has a huge market and is sold to paper mills which recycle it.  Milk cartons are also put into a separate pile which is  compressed and exported to Germany.

Paper is manually sorted along this belt.

Safe demolition of documents.

The picture above shows shredded “important” documents. Fretex offers this service too. For example, a bank would pay Fretex to safely shred documents for which no further use is needed.  This department has fewer people working there and they are sworn to secrecy. No visitors are even allowed in this department. Some workers at the plant don’t even set foot there so obviously I didn’t take a picture. I could only take one of the shredded bits. It would take the worlds greatest genius to puzzle these shreds into even quota of a document.

After the shredding, the bits are also pressed into bells as show in the picture below


 The paper is compressed into bales to make it easier for the fork-lift truck to move them around. It also makes storage and transportation more practical. the fork lifts load the bales onto the trucks which transports the paper to different companies or ports for exporting. China buys a lot of mixed(unsorted) paper waste which they recycle into numerous products.

 Fretex also does glass and tin collecting .

I also discovered that fretex had a hand in creating the The items below. They are made out of recycled paper

Cup holder

Medical tray sometimes used by dentists.

Attention to detail

25 Jul

Red Fretex Redesign Tunic

It sure is fun and very educative to see all the work that goes into a single redesign product especially in a big company like Fretex. When I was doing work in my small-scale fashion business back home(Uganda), I was working alone so, my system of doing things was obviously less complex than the way things are done in a large company like Fretex. For example, I didn’t have to meet with a production team to go over every single detail of just one garment before I produced it or do a lot of detailed market research. I was dealing with clients one on one, who already knew what they wanted. That took a lot off production time because then I only had to come up with some fashion design ideas from which one would be chosen by the client or sometimes by me . All the other production details were then mine to decide. Things like what type of thread to use, what type of lining to use or if lining was necessary, what type of zipper and small details like that. These  were left for me to decide based on my garment construction experience. No meeting ever happened concerning what details to use, why those details or how those details would be achieved. This sometimes allowed me to make several garments in less than a month.

I have realised that it takes much longer to finally produce and sale a product in a big company and a lot of thinking ahead has to be done. One obvious reason is of course that it is serial production. Every single detail has to be analysed too and this automatically lengthens production time. Before even going into small details the bigger picture has to be looked at and that is ,”What do clients want?,” this leads to a lot of market research. So while my clients came to me with what they wanted and were trend aware most times, Fretex redesign has to go to the market and find out what the trends are in terms of whatever they might produce. What Fretex has to Its constant advantage is that anything labeled eco-friendly is trendy(That trend is not going anywhere any time soon) so Fretex redesign in my opinion is trendy in its self 🙂 .

So any way, I am now working on a project where I will redesigned men’s shirts into women’s dresses. At the beginning of the project, I thought that it would take a few months, 2 to 3 or maybe a maximum  of 4 for the Dress to be designed, produced and put into the market for sale. Boy,was I wrong!  I was soon to learn that that’s not how big companies do their thing. With all the “detail” that goes into a single product, the process from start to finish can even take one whole year! Shocking but very helpful lesson for me. Whats more, Fretex Redesign as a company has Sustainability as one of its main goals so, a lot of effort has to be put into making sure every product has this goal attached to it. As I design the dresses, I am doing things I had not done before like making various prototypes and critically analysing every single detail, making sure to record my findings, filling out a product history file…. things like that. A lot of fun is involved too though, I get to go to Fashion boutiques to do trend searches and look at beautiful designs by the likes of D&G or Michael Kors.

I also remember how interesting it was to sit in the sorting department  at Fretex. On this particular day I was doing  research to find out how many shirts I would be able to collect over  given amount of time, in this case, one and a half days. This  was required as shirt collection time affectes  shirt production time(Details details details…..). Any way, besides the fact that I was able to find some good shirt brands,(Calvin Klein included.WOW!) I could see all the types of clothing Items people give to fretex; the REALLY  cool, the good and the…. ‘very interesting items’ 

A designer label for my dress project!

As I mentioned, Fretex is really trendy because of all the good it does, That said, some people are willing to give top quality clothing items as long as it is for a good cause and even though they are second-hand, whatever amount of money that is generated from them goes to charity.

Brand new shirts, Good find.

Sometimes, people give brand new items like these shirts I found. Better to give it to a good cause than throw it away.

Very intresting project this is for me so read on as it unfolds……

Getting to know Fretex II

7 Jun
My first day at Fretex was a mixture of anticipation and nerves. I was so eager to work for a large company after having been only self-employed for 2 years. I was also really nervous because I knew that I had to learn a completely new system of doing things in a completely new language which would make the learning process slower. Fortunately every one  was patient with me and kind enough to speak to me in English but I have to say I really wanted and still want to learn more Norsk (otherwise I miss out on those interesting lunch time conversations). Upside to all this is I am now starting to understand more and more every day, I still can’t contribute to a Norsk conversation but I know I will get there someday.

My office space


So anyway, as first days at work go, I was given the grand tour to all the departments and finally shown to my office space. “My office space, ”I had not had an ‘office space’ before, I had only had a ‘work shop’ with a sewing machine, fabrics, sewing tools…. the works but not an office space with a desk, computer… basically everything that comes with an office, plus a redesign workshop. Now the redesign workshop I really liked. It is fully equipped with all the equipment and tools a designer would need to get really creative, I knew I would be in my element there.
The highlight of my first day was actually seeing all the recycle products that I had only seen in pictorial form. Below are some of these products but there were actually more products than I can show on one page.


Photo by Fretex

More cute leather products


Tunic made out of a blend of traditional Norwegian table Linens and silk fabric.


Cushion cover made from silk scarf


It felt really good to finally be at Fretex. It had been a long wait filled with anticipation but I was finally there. So my first day at work went by really fast or maybe I think it did because there was too much to learn for one day. I actually found that at the end of every day for that first week I was really tired but in a good way (information overload) for there was surely a lot to learn.

 More Interesting things I learnt about Fretex redesign

Fretex Redesign Presented a fabulous collection at the 2009 Oslo Fashion week.  It was a blend of vintage outfits and redesign outfits. The color theme was amazing, fabulous even. I also like the fact that there was no clear distinction between the redesign and the non redesign outfits.

Fretex also Presented its self  in the most unusual way during the 2011 Oslo fashion week.
When I watched the video, I was very impressed and full of laughter. I can just imagine exiting a subway to find myself on a fashion runway! Wonder how I would react. Involving the public in a publicity stunt, big thumbs up and wise thinking. It is seeing things like this that makes me really proud to be part of Fretex Redesign.

* You would achieve more, if you don’t mind who gets the credit.

Getting to know Fretex

23 May

 I started learning more about Fretex Redesign from the day I was told that I was nominated fo the job, for example;

Fretex is a Salvation Army owned company and actaually the Salvation Army  has a Branch in Kampala Uganda. I also found alot of information about Fretex on the internate (

Katerina.G and Magny T from Fretex Redesign visited the Salvation Army branch in kampala, UgandaFretex.

I also got to know more about the redesign department of Fretex and the products they make. I was really impressedand facinated! Te recycled products look brand new, its hard to imagine that these product are made from materials poeple dindnt want.  Its hard to describe with words so Ican only  show you;

Photo by Fretex Redesign

Purse made from recycled leather jacket





Photo by Fretex Redesign
Dresses made from bedcovers
Photo by Fretex Redesign
Yup, hard to belive but these stylish bags were made from leather Jackets!!

I call these the wow bags coz thats all I could say when I saw them first!!

The more I learnt about Fretex Redesign, the more Interested I got. I am still learning because there is alot to learn ofcourse, I am not even sure if one year is enough, but hope you enjoy this learning experience with me coz if you dont, I now I will.

The beginning of my journey

13 May


This is how it all started
It was 2010 and I had been running my small fashion business for two years. I was at a point where I wanted to take the next big step for my business and myself when this big opportunity came to me in the ‘nick of time’. I got a call from a former professor of mine called Dr Venny, from the Margaret Trowel school of industrial and fine art in Makerere University, who informed me that I had been nominated as a potential participant to represent Makerere University and Design without Borders (Designe uten grenser) of Norsk Form as an exchange designer in Fretex Redesign. She did not want me to get to excited however because there were other nominees but, as you can imagine, I was extremely excited even though there was a big possibility that someone else would  be selected.

As far as I know, apart from my two-year experience as a fashion designer, I was nominated mainly because of a project called “ Fashion Recycle with a difference.´´ that I had done in my 3rd and final year at the School of Industrial and Fine Art in Makerere University. In this project I focused on how ‘recycle’ as a fashion design tool could be used to promote sustainability by transforming men’s secondhand  shirts into beautiful blouses for women. Below are some examples of the outcome of this idea;

Colar twist (photo by Brenda Asiimwe)

From shirt to blouse


Twisted colar


Photos by Brenda Asiimwe D

You have to know that at this point I had no idea whatsoever what Fretex Redesign was all about. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I later found out and realized that someone or a company far, far away from Uganda was doing fashion recycle but on a larger scale than I was doing it and that in fact they also recycle other materials other than textiles like; paper, leather, wood, glass and metal. I was beyond excited. I now wanted this experience more than before. I really wanted to see and learn more about what Fretex Redesign was doing because obviously there was a lot to learn, so, I crossed my fingers and prayed that I would be selected.With fingers crossed, I went to meet Katarina Gronmyr (Project leader Fretex Redesign Øst-Norge) and Magny Tjelta(Redesign leader Fretex Vest-Norge) for my interview and to show them samples of products made for my ‘fashion recycle with a difference’ project. 

Apart from the interviews Katarina and Magny were holding to find an exchange designer to host in Fretex, they were in Uganda to visit the Salvation Army branch there and also to visit one of the largest outdoor markets in Uganda and in East Africa called ‘Owino’.


The day I got the long awaited call from Katarina with news that I had been selected for the exchange, I have to admit, was one of the best days of my life! I was speechless and don’t really remember what I said. What I remember for sure is I had an ear to ear grine and ofcourse, I did a little victory dance. Thank God no one could see me because I must have looked silly. I then shared the good news with my family and they were really happy for me,(my Mom put my earlier victory dance to shame with hers, it was a sight to remember). The process and the wait for my depature then begun.