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Ecospire - Nov 11th, 2009

The curtain of hanging clear glass circles and squares twinkled as you walked by them at the entrance of Environment Furniture on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles on Monday night. "These glass squares are made from Jose Cuervo bottles," a woman standing nearby explained to a crowd of admirers. Are we talking about the same glass squares? 

Indeed we were. The woman was jewelry designer Kathleen Plate and this was the launch party for her new recycled glass home collection. The collection includes recycled glass pillows, chandeliers, lamps, wall art, glass curtains and dresses all made from recycled beer, wine, soda and yes...tequila bottles. 

Kathleen's been designing art pieces from recycled materials for fifteen years. Growing up in Atlanta, she was an environmentalist, before she knew "that that was a thing. I thought everyone's mom made them compost and reuse their plastic baggies." 

Her work with recycled bottles started when she received a phone call from the Director of New Product Development at Coca-Cola. Coke wanted her to get creative using their bottles. At that time she was working with the front of bottles, pieces of glass with the logos intact that she would melt and flatten out. One day, she sliced a bottle horizontally to cut a circle and her new design style was born. She slices the bottles and tempers them, working with about nine different colors. 

Although she has no formal design training, her dress designs walked the catwalk at LA Fashion Week two years ago. When asked if she saw her dresses as art or fashion, Kathleen replied, "the highest form of fashion is art...they are conceptual fashion." 

As far as Kathleen's carbon footprint, she uses only recycled bottles for her designs, never wasting any part of the bottle, whether for use in a current project or she saves them for future ones. All the frames are made from iron scraps. She's very proud that her studio's utility bill is just $35 a month, considering she uses a kiln for her designs. "There's very little impact," Kathleen says. They also recycle the water used in the machinery for landscaping at the studio. 

When asked what inspires her, Kathleen's response was, "I love people to know they can do something they love...its the ultimate alchemy." 

Her handmade dress designs go for between $3,000 - 5,000 and the home decor hanging pieces sell for approximately $250 per square foot. Prices for other items vary. Kathleen's home decor line can be seen on display at Environment Furniture at 8126 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90048.

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