How three friends launched London design studio based on sustainability

When Bibiana Farenzena moved to England to study a Masters course in Design for Communication, she never expected to run her own design consultancy business eight years later.

The Brazilian-born designer is the co-owner of Upcircle along with friends Ophélia Gisquet and Mercedes Alvarez-Fojo.

Upcircle, which was launched in 2017, is a design studio based in London that offers sustainable design consultancy services in digital, graphic, furniture and interior design.

Mercedes Alvarez -Fojo, Bibiana Farenzena and Ophelia Gisquet

“We are all friends and we bring different skills to Upcircle. The idea behind our business is to promote the circular economy and the tree pillars of sustainability: economic, environment and social”, says Bibiana.

“Ophélia went travelling to South Africa when she discovered places and people that had the ability to design and create from very little resources, recycling and upcycling materials.

The community had a creative and very clever mindset and it was then Ophelia had the idea of applying this into her designs too.

“The three of us decided to set up Upcircle using our different skills on projects, which support sustainability and recycling.

She said Upcircle’s approach to projects focuses on design, the type of materials used, how they are manufactured and the impact it has on society.

Bibibana studied a BA in Visual Design at a university in Brazil, going on to study Digital Print in Textiles at Saint Martin’s College in London. She has also completed a Masters in Design for Communications at the University of Westminster.

The 32-year-old has a wealth of retail experience and has worked with Marks & Spencer, Asos, Body Shop and TKMaxx, to name a few.

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Asos Activewear campaign
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Asos Activewear campaign
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Asos Activewear campaign

Ophélia, 32, was born and studied in France where she did a foundation year in design in Toulouse, followed by an interior design course.

She studied a Masters in interior design and architecture and has worked on projects designing offices, homes and hotels across the globe.

Mercedes graduated in Business and Accountancy from the University of Barcelona and holds an MBA degree from the University of Westminster.

The Spanish-born business developer has worked in the construction industry for 15 years working on projects around the world.

Bibiana said: “Our extensive skill set allows us to work on projects together to promote sustainability and recycling.

“For example, we have worked on student accommodation projects where we use materials, which are recycled and sustainable.

“Many people do not realise but furniture in student accommodations usually have a life of five to seven years because the trend of interior design changes, so the contractors decide to refurbish it and the furniture ends up in landfills.

But if we design with a different mindset by reusing the same furniture or recycling it, we can create a big positive impact on the environment.”

review palette

The trio are currently working on a project with PhD students at the University of West England to create a permanent installation to increase awareness about sustainable palm oil.

The set will include trees, ferns, moss and the furniture will be made out from offcut plywood (reusing common waste in joinery workshop). The joinery will be produced by a Bristol-based company who share the same values about sustainability.

Palm oil is one of the world’s widely consumed vegetable oil and it is used in everything from soaps to biscuits and cosmetics.

Bibiana said: “The aim of the project is to raise awareness about sustainable palm oil because production often comes at the cost of the rich of biodiversity in the rainforest.

“We want to change consumer’s decisions about palm oil and how it can be sourced in the future.”

Upcircle is also working on a project with the university to refurbish four external courtyards, adding manifestations on the floor which is an affordable and sustainable solution. Some of the furniture will be supplied by an outdoor furniture company named Vestre that has “strong sustainable values”.

Bibiana said: “Some of the furniture will be produced by Bristol Wood Recycling Project, who use recycled elements.

It is a charity that offers free training to people who want to learn joinery or develop their social skills.

“We are also designing three new student accommodations with the aim to implement as much sustainable product and finishes as possible.”

In addition to the university projects, Upcircle is gearing up to take part in the London Design Festival in the summer.

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Installation for London Design Festival 2017

Last year they had an installation called Roots Grow Love, which was a striking wooden structure ​containing plants to celebrate the love of gardening, to promoting Loughborough Farm and bringing the community together.

Upcircle worked with Loughborough Farm and a group of volunteers from different associations to build the structure which was made of recycling wood and plants from the farm.

The last 18 months have been a whirlwind for the team at Upcircle and there is plenty of exciting projects in the pipeline for them.

Bibiana said: “Our approach has been well received by the industry and we are very happy to see more companies working with us.

“We believe that Upcircle will have a bright future thanks to the great collaboration of each business partner and the hard work.

Palm Oil
Palm oil project at the University of West England

“Our values at Upcircle will be a plus for our designs and our clients. By producing a great design and having a positive impact in our society, we hope our studio will make a difference in the creative industry.

“At Upcircle we want to be part of this movement of start-ups that have new ways of working, changing lifestyles and perceptions about work.

“It’s time for us designers but also consumers to change the way we live and produce things. Slow design is about time and so is Upcircle.”

See more from Upcricle over at their website –


Copyright: Upcircle


Emotional and expressive states are the driving force behind illustrator Aysha Choudhury’s work

Aysha Choudhury is an artist and illustrator from the United Kingdom. Her work can easily transport you to another world, emotional and expressive states are the driving force behind Aysha’s work, her use of shape and a vibrant colour palette to visualise such abstract thoughts.

Aysha has been involved various exhibitions across London in galleries such as RichMix and 508 Kings road gallery. She is the winner of the Heath Robinson- Illustration Competition 2016 and was exhibited in the Heath Robinson Museum 2017. She uses her work to unleash her imagination and her use of color help to subconsciously inspire those emotions in the viewer.

Aysha uses her ingenuity to grow and develop in her work using mainly traditional mix media. It enables Aysha to create stories portraying a sense of journey with symbolism that uses true elements of nature and colour. As well as the contrast of structure and motion of movement that might be encapsulated in her paintings.

You can see more of Aysha’s work here –

Deer in the forrest (low)










Graphic Designer Yi Du making shapes and patterns dance with her new book

Yi Du is a graphic designer originally from China, now based in London where she is studying an MA in Design For Communication. Yi’s repertoire consists of a broad range of projects from publications to visual identities. After studying electronic science and technology of china at the University of China, Yi realised her passion and skills revolved around design and visual communication, prompting her to move half way across the world to focus and develop her passion.

Her latest project Dancing Curves is a handmade book ,the concept is to make curves dance through design and binding. This is a playful and highly interactive book whose target audiences are children and people who are interested in unusual binding methods, along with a strong sense of colour and shapes. Yi has used a very authoritative and powerful colours on each of her pages, as this helps deliver and execute the concept. Putting a light colour on a darker background creates the illusion the object is further away than it actually is, while darker colours make them seem slightly closer than their true position. So, you can use colours to change the apparent shapes of rooms. Yi’s clever use of colour has allowed her to create illusions through a combination of shape and colour.

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Dancing Curves

Yi’s diverse background experience is what makes all her projects so unique and individual. With a strong presence of colour in all her projects, her work is immediately distinguishable.  While people traditionally identify books with words, Yi divorces this approach by using shape, pattern, colour and clever binding to tell a story.

Dancing Curves
Dancing Curves
Dancing Curves
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Dancing Curves

You can see more of Yi Du’s projects here –


How junior designer went from film sets to digital media

We have been chatting with junior designer Jafor Abu. He tells us about being a landscaper on films including Star Wars Rogue, getting “hot and sweaty” in his project work and a part-time job in Sainsbury’s.

Jafor studied Film Production at the University for the Creative Arts, graduating in 2014.
A year later, he started work in the film industry as a landscaper working on films such as The Huntsman, The Winter Soldier, Star Wars Rogue One, The Mummy and
Kingman 2, to name just a few.

Jafor Abu

“I have always had a passion for the film industry and because of this, I always brought the digital software into every small film project I took part in”, said Jafor.

“The film industry days were very hard as it included waking up early and coming home late but I never complained as this is what I wanted to do and eventually I wanted to work my way into the art department at Pinewood Studios or Warner Bros Studios Leavesden.”


At the time Jafor was also working in Sainsburys part-time but he soon realised it was becoming difficult to juggle his personal and work life.

He said: “I was working at a film studio for five days a week and at Sainsbury’s for two days, which left me with no time to relax or spend time with family, which is really important to me.

“I had to keep my second job at Sainsbury’s because the film jobs were only available on contract terms. When there was a job, I got a call otherwise I was waiting around for at least a month for a call.

“As much I loved the film industry and the people I had worked with, as an individual I could not rely on just hope or getting by.

“I really had to find something and go hard at that and work my way up.”

Jafor then decided to take a step back from the film industry and delve into the world of freelance.


For almost two years he worked as a freelancer on short-term contracts until he was appointed as junior graphic designer at Inner Media, a digital agency, this year.

Jafor said: “In my role, I love the freedom of creativity, which leads me to show my full potential of my skills when designing.

“Sometimes it gets too hot and sweaty when you are up to your eye balls with work but that is in any work place, I prefer to get all hot and sweaty at something I really enjoy.

“I have always found the digital software’s such as Adobe Suit very interesting.

“No matter what problems I may face when dealing with a project, there is always assistance and help from my fellow work peers, I work with a beautiful team.

“My goal for the future is to keep on going with design and never look back. I want to ensure that whatever I do, I want to leave a smile on everyone’s face.”




Copyright: Jafor Abu


Adidas jumps on the World Cup trend by featuring Mo Salah and Gabriel Jesus in new campaign

The world is happily suffering of the 2018 World Cup fever, and brands are rejoicing at this. Adidas is one of those that jumped on the football trend with its latest campaign consisting of a trio of films, two of which feature the sport’s newest sensations: Gabriel Jesus and Mo Salah.

At the core of the very cinematic project is the positive message “Here to create”, which is illustrated by the narratives of the videos. The first story is that of Gabriel Jesus, a Brazilian footballer who, last World Cup, was just a 16 year-old teenager painting the streets of his district, Jardim Peri, situated in the famous city Sao Paulo. He talks about his journey from a little boy playing football in the street, to painter, to World Cup player. Jesus encourages people to dream, using his story as proof that anything can happen. At the end of the film, there’s a text that reads the campaign’s message, suggesting he is here to create history.

gabriel jesus
Source: Adidas Football Twitter

The second ad of the series shows the emotions, the pressure and the atmosphere players experience on the field. Mo Salah, the star of this film, explains how the large number of people calling his name when he’s out there doing his magic with the ball, inspire him to create. The images alternate between black and white and colour, building a strongly emotional footage.

mo salah
Source: Adidas, Daily Mail

In the third and last video, Spain citizens, including some big football names like Iker Casillas, demand passion, greatness and creativity of their national team. A child looks straight into the camera and convincingly tells Spain’s team “Show me something I can tell my grandkids about”.  Another man assertively says “I want that cup. I want gold”, and is followed by a woman agreeing with him by forcefully saying “Me too”.

Source: Adidas – Spain | Demand Greatness on Youtube

The film trio created by Iris, the agency appointed as Adidas’ Footballs Lead Global Agency, adopts the language of the country where each featured footballer is from, and uses English subtitles. This makes the message of the campaign stronger, and wonderfully depicts that the World Cup is rendered a phenomenon by a multitude of nations that made history in this sport.


Illustrator Laura Parker on using her Illustration practice as a platform for social issues

London based Illustrator Laura Parker’s colourful portfolio is filled with drawings, installations and paintings of insects, birds, abstract sculptural creations; whether it’s sewn-like human bodies hanging from the ceiling or ceramic sculptures of human bodies with a bird’s head. It’s fair to say Laura’s work is instantly recognisable, due to its unique and personal approach.




Born in rural Norfolk, Laura uses her Illustration practice as a platform for social issues and campaigns she feels passionate about. An example of this is one of her most recent projects ‘Grow Wild – As free as a bee’. Grow Wild was created and motivated by our need as a society to help our Bumblebees in the UK since being listed as an endangered species.


The importance of bumblebees is often overlooked, as their population has plummeted nearly 90 percent. The threats facing the population of bees are argued to be a result of: loss of habitat, diseases and parasites, pesticides, and climate change. This is a big deal not only for bees but for people, too—after all, bees pollinate a lot of our food.  “Bumblebees are among the most important pollinators of crops such as blueberries, cranberries, and clover, and almost the only insect pollinators of tomatoes,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Laura was funded to create a body of work as part of the Grow Wild Get Creative Takeover at Summer hall in Edinburgh. She aims to use her talents and unique illustration style to bring awareness to this significant issue and encourage people to take action. “For this exhibition I didn’t just want to highlight the issue, but also help towards a solution, so as well as this installation people were also encouraged to take home a pack of wildflower seeds, to grow.”

Get Creative Takeover MFG

Get Creative Takeover MFG

Get Creative Takeover MFG

Laura incorporates a wide variety of media within her work and enjoys the challenge of combining illustration with textile processes. This enthusiasm to combine different materials and mediums ensures each project she works on is unique to the other, whilst keeping her distinguished style. Laura’s unconventional drawings and unorthodox compositions expand the viewer’s creative muscles. Her drawings prompt us to acknowledge the issues she highlights. Her work challenges conventions and offers new forms of visual expressions that have not seen before.



You can see more of her projects here –




Illustrator Eloise Grohs on post-graduation realities

London based Illustrator and Visual Communicator Eloise Grohs creates distinct characters whose gangly limbs flow with movement and rhythm. Interchanging between digital and mixed media, dense black outlines and no outlines at all, Eloise’s work is full of charm because of these boisterous and energetic bodies.

Eloise’s work is varied both in her choice of materials and the subjects she chooses to focus on. The subject of her work focuses around everyday life and taking mundane subjects and tasks and creating innovative, unique and playful illustrations from them, which despite their craziness are extremely relatable.  A flick through Eloise’s portfolio demonstrates her colourful and distinctive style as a release of emotion and expression.

“I can poke fun at things I dislike (mainly about my retail job) in my illustrations. Drawing the things that frustrate or bother me is my creative outlet. Getting them out on a page lets me laugh at them, make them seem small, or just clear my mind of them.”

Eloise’s project ‘Post graduation’ focuses on her perceptions and fears of graduating followed by her post-graduation realities.

Post Graduation
Post Graduation
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Post Graduation

“I tend to illustrate my daily woes. Monotonous time-consuming activities that filter into my day, or things that bore me, tend to be repeated sources of inspiration/themes within my work”

Despite being a seemingly light-hearted series, Eloise tackles issues and fears which are extremely common head on and presents her solution in the form of a mixture of digital illustration and craftmanship, which due to the execution viewers can find comfort in. Eloise’s illustrations may look straightforward but there’s deeper meaning hidden within. Filled with painting, collage skin tones, rainbows, white space, grids and minimal typography is really important to Eloise’s pieces.

lifting my spirits
Post Graduation
Post Graduation
Post Graduation


You can see more of Eloise’s work here:
Website –
Instagram – @e.____g