Meet the fashion designer taking 'upcycling' literally to create must-have looks

Designer Katri Chapman (KatriK) makes jewellery from bike inner tubes. Pictures: Brittany Woodmam

Designer Katri Chapman makes jewellery from bike inner tubes - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Dressmaker and artist Katri Chapman has been a self-employed for 15 years and is determined to promote the upcycling of materials to make sustainable and durable products.

And now she has hit on the idea of upcycling cycles! 

The 38-year-old moved to London from Finland in 2014 where she set up her business, KatriK Design before settling in her husband Alex's home city of Norwich in 2017 to raise her two children, now two and four.

She opened her studio in Anteros Arts Foundation in the heart of Norwich in February.

Designer Katri Chapman (KatriK) makes jewellery from bike inner tubes. Pictures: Brittany Woodmam

Designer Katri Chapman assembling a corset, make from bike inner tubes - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Katri said: "One day, a cycle courier friend of mine - who had loads of broken bike inner tubes - asked me if I could make a wallet out of them. I said I could give it a good go and try it.

"It's a hard material to work with. It's not meant to be punctured or sewn, but it has a lot of similarities to leather.

"That's why I like it. I often think 'why am I doing this?' but when you make something really nice and functional it's rewarding.

Katri Chapman of KatriK makes clothing and accessories from bike inner tubes

Katri Chapman of KatriK makes clothing and accessories from bike inner tubes - Credit: Brittany Woodman

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"It's a really rough material and I like the contrast of making pretty things with it. I've made evening bags, accessories with bows - and even vests and corsets.

"I still get friends bringing me broken inner tubes and bike shops donate theirs to me instead of having to pay to have them recycled."

Katri's partnered with Redo Norwich which works alongside charities and businesses to help them to reduce waste.

Designer Katri Chapman (KatriK) makes jewellery from bike inner tubes. Pictures: Brittany Woodmam

Designer Katri Chapman set up her brand KatriK in 2014 - Credit: Brittany Woodman

They help Katri source other materials she uses for her projects including rags and denim offcuts.

She added how she prides herself in sourcing good-quality materials to give them a new lease of life - and to keep them from landfill.

"Inspiration comes from everywhere.

Designer Katri Chapman (KatriK) makes jewellery from bike inner tubes. Pictures: Brittany Woodmam

Katri said she likes making beautiful items which contrast the roughness of the material she uses - Credit: Brittany Woodman

"I get a lot of requests to try and make items.

"I find it really interesting to see normal clothes or accessories and think how I can flip it on its head.

"I say to people to contact me if an item breaks to see if I can repair it rather than throw it away. I haven't had any of those so far which is encouraging."

How she does it

When Katri has a collection of bike inner tubes from donations and friends she cuts out the pump attachments and splits the tubes in half lengthways to flatten them out.

Designer Katri Chapman (KatriK) makes jewellery from bike inner tubes. Pictures: Brittany Woodmam

Katri works with as few virgin materials as possible - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Then they get shoved in her washing machine at her NR3 home for a thorough cleaning. 

She explained: "I do a few at a time. I used to wash them in the bath but then I realised I wouldn't break the machine if I put them in.

"At least I haven't yet. Fingers crossed."

After the tubes are cleaned and dried she takes the tubes to her studio where she sorts through the material piece by piece to see what is strong and viable enough to work with.

"Usually I can use every bit just for different purposes," she said, adding that very little material is wasted. "But it's a lot of work."

From there she cuts the tubing to the desired length and shape for her desired design before attaching other materials and pieces.