Eco-friendly Practice: Liana Kabel

By Phoebe Miller In my opinion, this month's eco-friendly creative lady featuree embodies a lot of what the CWC is all about. Liana Kabel juggles motherhood with running her own creative practice and working with other women to help turn their dreams and ideas into business success. From my observation, she does it all with a smile and the attitude that while it might be a challenge, it's also rewarding and incredibly worthwhile.

Liana Kabel Push Pin Bangles - knitting needles, push pins

Originally from Sydney, but now residing in Brisbane, Liana has a diverse, broad ranging creative background, with experience in ceramics, photography, painting, fibre arts, costume design and the performing arts. These days her artistic practice focuses on the design and handcrafted production of contemporary jewellery, predominantly using recycled plastics. With a Tupperware Lady mother and jeweller father, she says it's hardly surprising where she's ended up!

Knitwit Necklace by Liana Kabel - vintage knitting needles, stainless steel, button

What do you do/ design/ make? I’m a jewellery designer with a focus on using recycled plastics. I’m really interested in going beyond the jewellery in the future to include more sculptural work and wall pieces.

I am also the manager of the Brisbane programs for Bizness Babes, a not for profit organisation with a range of business training programs for women who want to turn their idea into a business.

What are the key elements in your sustainable or eco-friendly approach? Most of my materials are recycled, found, vintage plastics and metals, sourced locally.

I’m keen to create as little waste from any project as possible, but when I do, I try to use the waste in other projects. For example, my love knot rings and knot brooches are made from the middle sections of the knitting needles, once I’d used the tips and tops for necklaces and earrings.

Liana Kabel studio detail

Where do you source your materials? I’m always on the lookout! Markets and op shops are a great source, however lots of my materials are donated. Customers, friends and relatives will often send me parcels of odd knitting needles, buttons, plastics lids etc. Reverse Garbage  is a great source whenever I need something like acrylic or rubber.

Many of the materials I’m using this year are from my relatives. My Uncle had a jewellery factory in Sydney and so did my Great Uncle. My Father and another Uncle also had a jewellery retail and wholesale business. I’ve inherited some of the materials that span over 60 years of their various businesses.

Liana Kabel earrings materials

Is there anything you’d like to do or learn to make your work even more eco-friendly or sustainable? I’d really like to learn more about bio resins/eco-friendly plastics and how to work with them. I’m also interested in collaborations with other designers/artists across different fields who share a similar focus. I am also going to work more on make more small changes such as packaging, printing etc. They all can add up to much.

Tupperware Dress by Liana Kabel - recycled Tupperware, steel jump-rings

Are there any other designers or businesses doing new or interesting things with an environmentally aware focus that you admire or are inspired by? I love amazing design done well with as little environmental impact as possible. I think it’s great when the first thing you notice is great design. Melissa shoes are a great example. Melissa has been quietly leading an ecological fashion revolution for nearly thirty years. Melissa shoes are made from eco friendly mono materials that can easily be disassembled and recycled. 100% of materials are used in production. No waste. No dumping excess into landfill.

I am always inspired by businesses that are as much about people as the environment - when the social and environmental impact is considered equally. When those can go hand-in-hand I think the impact and long term benefits are the greatest.

Where can we view and/or buy your work? Stockists and my online shop can be accessed via my website.

Liana Kabel Pied Piper Necklace - vintage games counters, recycled acrylic, coat hangers and sterling silver

Phoebe Miller is a Brisbane-bred, Sydney-fled, Melbourne-embedded gal who enjoys making, spruiking, collecting, exploring, telling her friends where to eat and posting photos of doors on instagram. After several years working in corporate marketing and communications, Phoebe followed the urge to explore her creative side. These days she divides her time between her sustainable fashion accessories label, Simply Phoebe, and freelance PR consulting.