sew sow

Kirby McLean

See it On Campus: Level 2

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Located in the Rennie Hall

Exploring Materiality and Sustainability through Beeswax Vessels

Driven by the desire to allow individuals to become sculptors of their own environment, I transition technical materials to home-based ones, crafting biodegradable beeswax vessels for food preservation. These vessels invite interaction, which allows users to fold them, hang them, and manipulate their form. This act of making extends beyond the physical creation process; it becomes an engaging experience, creating a unique visual form. Made from discarded garments, begging for a new life, these vessels embody a larger discourse on sustainability.

The broad intention of this project is to address the issue of food waste on a personal level by promoting a deeper connection to our food sources. As a product, the features include being watertight, flat-packable, and compostable.

The objects take on a quirky, yet functional quality through the juxtaposition of ephemeral, light materials with rigid textures. This marriage of elements not only enhances their aesthetic appeal but also speaks to their practicality. Beeswax coatings, renowned for their ability to extend the shelf life of certain produce, play a pivotal role in this functionality. By creating a natural, antimicrobial barrier, they effectively preserve moisture and prevent spoilage, thus prolonging the freshness of fruits and vegetables. This dual function not only reduces food waste but also allows consumers to savour produce for an extended period, showcasing how nature-inspired solutions can manifest as tangible, everyday benefits.

“Sew Sow” is a celebration of creativity, resourcefulness, and considers meaningful change through mindful design. I seek to inspire curiosity and engagement with sustainable practices by infusing humour and playfulness throughout the design process.

Kirby McLean

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As I graduate from my undergraduate studies in industrial design, I’m thrilled to merge my passion for creativity with my love for adventure and human connection. My design ethos is deeply influenced by my pursuits in cycling, mountain biking, and snowboarding. These activities not only fuel my playful spirit but also instil in me a profound appreciation for the harmony between form and function.

Throughout my academic journey, my mentors have often remarked on my ability to connect with people—a skill I hold dear and consider one of my strongest assets as an emerging designer. One of my teachers once remarked, “You have a terrific attitude and way of connecting with people—to me, your ability to talk to and get to know people is one of the strongest skills you will bring into your design practice.” This feedback has deeply resonated with me, shaping my approach to design as a collaborative and empathetic endeavour.

As I reflect on the portfolio I’ve curated, I see my design voice emerging—a narrative woven from the threads of my experiences, interests, and values. Each project is not merely a product of design but a story waiting to be told—a story of creativity sparked by constraint, of innovation born from collaboration, and of solutions crafted with purpose and empathy.
In my design practice, I embrace constraints as catalysts for creativity, weaving them seamlessly into the fabric of my work to produce solutions that are both innovative and practical. With each project, I strive to tell a story—one that not only showcases my technical skills but also reflects my commitment to sustainability, inclusivity, and human-centered design.

I’m excited to continue honing my craft and pushing the boundaries of design innovation. Whether it’s crafting compelling narratives for my projects or tackling design challenges with resilience and creativity, I’m committed to making a positive impact through design.