When the second wave of Coronavirus infections set off in Hong Kong in March 2020, April discovered a large quantity of wallpaper samples in her company’s warehouse; and she came up with the idea of transforming these into mask holders. “The samples are durable and embody various attractive patterns such as animals, geometric and classical designs. We clear our warehouse periodically, and outdated wallpaper samples are just discarded. So I decided to upcycle them into eco-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, functional mask holders instead of burying them in landfill,” April says.
Eventually, some of their wallpaper suppliers learned about this, and donated boxes of brand new samples and wallpaper stocks which were going to be dumped – providing unlimited supplies of high-quality raw materials.
The production process might appear simple, but is full of challenges and limitations: “Although environmental protection is the main aim, the hygiene of the product cannot be ignored. The back of the wallpaper is different from the surface which is printed; it cannot be sterilised with alcohol, so is not suitable for contact with the mask. So I tried folding the wallpaper in half: this allows the colourful pattern to show on both sides, and enables the mask holder to be sanitised multiple times,” April explains.
After several additional modifications and coating with disinfectant spray that can last for three months, these upcycled wallpaper mask holders are both durable and hygienic.