Meet JJ, the founder of Rehyphen®!

Rehyphen® pioneer an up-cycling initiative whereby they collect discarded cassette tapes from locals and weave them into a piece of MusicCloth® as an effort to reduce and eliminate e-waste, while giving the product a new life.

As a pioneer in sustainable fashion, Rehyphen® was praised by Kevin McCloud, British Designer and Television Host of the show ‘Grand Design’, as an “astonishing reinvention of tape into something fashionable and fabulous.” It also made it into Kevin McCloud’s list of Top 7 Green Heroes for both 2018 and 2019. 

In this edition of Get To Know, find out more about the magic behind the birth of Rehyphen® and its founder, JJ! 

D: Tell us more about yourself and Rehyphen®!

I am JJ, the founder of Rehyphen®. I am a multi- local who has been working and living in Singapore, Malaysia, New York and Shanghai. I graduated from Parsons The New School of Design in New York and I am a recipient of Yeohlee Fellowship program which I learned from the luxury designer Yeohlee in New York who advocates locally made, zero waste and sustainable practices. I believe that music is a universal language, and it has the power to change the world. Our team reimagine a new way of exchanging music by addressing our global e-waste issues and transform our pre-loved cassette tapes into pieces of MusicCloth® that inspire global community.  I created Rehyphen® with the aim of solving real-life problem. Run by a mother-daughter duo, our brand produced all our product locally in Singapore. 

MusicCloth® is an innovative up-cycle material made of discarded cassette tapes and video tapes. The tapes consist of polyester film with metallic coatings, which could otherwise be considered a waste material. The material is woven in a basket weave pattern, which allows stability and durability. Cloth edge finished in a smooth finishing. Each MusicCloth® owns its own unique colours combination and patterns. MusicCloth® is lightweight, sound absorbing and highly water resistance. 

MusicCloth® swatches have been stored and are available in Material ConneXion world wide libraries (Product Number: MC 7654-01) & University of Pennsylvania material lab. This material has been exhibited at TEDx as one of the ideas worth spreading. American Design Club’s jury selected MusicCloth® tote bag as one of the modern methods of what it means to build an object. Kevin McCloud hand-picked Rehyphen® as one of his Top 7 Green Heroes. Our MusicCloth® has also been selected by Interior design Magazine as one of the 7 most innovative woven materials in Material ConneXion world wide Library.   Since 2017, RedDot 21 included MusicCloth® as one of the excellent products in the 21st-century world of design.

D: What is the mission and vision of Rehyphen?

I founded Rehyphen® studio with the mission to lead and inspire a sustainable way to be fashionable. “Re” stands for resources, reveal, rethink. A prefix, used with the meaning again and again to indicate repetition, or with the meaning “backward”. “Hyphen” is a sign ( – ) used to join words to indicate that they have a combined meaning or that they are linked. I want to sell the world “a better world”. Rehyphen® is created with the aim of solving real-life problems. 

The objective is to collect our pre-loved cassette tapes and video tapes which was once a precious asset to us and turn them into a brand new form and function that people could use it and be inspired in today’s world. At the same time, we put an effort to reduce and eliminate e-waste in landfills. Nearly 50 million tons of electronic waste was generated in 2018, and only 20 percent of that was recycled, according to United Nations E-waste Coalition. 

Hence, I believe that strategies for the future should be based on a deep understanding of humans as emotional beings. We aim to create a ripple effect to help local communities keep and extend their memories to the next level. As we consider the challenges associated with the process, we have the opportunity to come up with a circular design idea to resource, reveal, rethink and re-share our MusicCloth® in the modern world. Our final goal is to encourage public to reimagine how we care for our planet and challenge our community to turn waste into beautiful memories. 

 D: How did the business first start out? Could you elaborate on some adversities that were faced in the beginning?

The business started out very organically, cassette tapes were part of the medium of communication with my best friends ( who live in Australia ) when smartphones and social media had not been invented yet. During a major clean up of my room when I came back from New York in 2016, I found those cassette tapes and came up with this idea to use them to weave into a piece of cloth, to make waste and memories beautiful. We also found out that cassette tape is plastic material, which is non-biodegradable, and they can’t be burned in the landfill, and is very harmful to the earth. My mum and I then started this project together and took about 9 months to work out a proper way to weave cassette tapes. 

Music is a universal language that ties people together. It has the power to change the world. A quote from Alvar Aalto which had inspired us a lot, “Nothing old is ever reborn but neither does it totally disappear. And that which was once born, will always reappear in a new form.” The idea of MusicCloth® is not just an innovative products, services and experiences, but also an innovative system that embraces change. 

As I was collecting the cassette tapes, I also found that every tape tells a story. In fact, I feel that I am not just collecting cassette tapes, but collecting their memories and giving them a brand-new form. 

D:  Any trade secrets you can reveal?

As you said is a trade secret, it should be kept as a secret. But we do occasionally conduct workshop to reshare our technique. Our private workshop “Ready, Cassette,Go!” which launched in Airbnb experience platform has helped us reached out to many locals and tourists who want to have a unique experience in Singapore. Our experience was selected by Park Royal Hotel as one of the “6 secrets spots in Singapore to Learn unique skills”. We also work closely with government organization and school to host upcycling workshop to educate the younger generation about the technology revolution, as well as making awareness about our global e-waste issue and the important of up-cycle design. 

D:  What aspects of your personality can we see in your work?

We create a mass personalization where every piece of our product is unique and different, and each MusicCloth® is tracked by the original cassette album that we used to weave. We want to make upcycling fun and not a serious thing where everyone could relate and participate in this movement. 

D: What is one thing people don’t know about you?

When I was 18 years old, I was working in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. I had never flown before and it happened to be the longest flight that I have ever taken. It was summer, and I was working in the kitchen of the national park, with an active volcano that could erupt anytime. Animals in the park are free to roam and I was surrounded by nature everyday. It was an unforgettable journey that allowed me to look deep into nature and it felt as if my spirit, too was cleansed. 

D: What are your hobbies and passions outside of work?

I love reading and travelling. I treasure the time when I am in the plane, where I can disconnect myself from technology and focus on reading my favourite books up in the air. 

D: One quote that you live by?

“My eyes are on my life, they are my own private camera, I extend all the experience from my private life into my work, because living is my library.” – by Ralph Lauren. 

When different people see the same thing at a particular moment, their reaction is built up through what they have seen in the past. Some people choose what they see, some people ignore what they see, but I believe in my eyes, that is the truth that I am searching for. 

MORE ON Rehyphen®: 

Kevin McCloud Green Heroes Exhibit: Rehyphen Booth 2019

(Photo Credits:  Rehyphen®)

Redefining Interior Design with MusicCloth®.

(Photo Credits: Rehyphen®)

Sustainable Fashion and Accessories created with MusicCloth®

(Photo Credits:  Rehyphen®)

Creative Greeting Cards: “Tweet tapes” inspired by Donald Trump

Empty tapes, which were previously used for MusicCloth®, being upcycled to become “Tweet tapes”. These unique greeting cards are filled with 140-character meaningful quotes on the end tapes. Tweets can be customized and are therefore perfect for celebrating special occasions.  The Neon tweet tape (below) is specifically designed for NYCxDesign Sound and Vision. 

(Photo Credits:  Rehyphen®)

Rehyphen® has definitely made their mark in our world today – with the call for sustainability more relevant and more urgent than ever before. As we learn to adapt and cultivate new sustainable habits in all aspects of our lives, perhaps we could take our next step into sustainable fashion with our very own outfit made with MusicCloth®. 

Check out their profile on Delegate here.