From ephemeral to sustainable: the second life of our event decorations
Just a few days from the presentation of Virgil Abloh’s Fall-Winter collection 2021, the Paris Tennis Club – located at the southern tip of the 16th arrondissement – is bustling. The usual echo of balls bouncing off rackets is replaced by the sounds of drills and grinders, and the habitual athletes are supplanted by the teams of Louis Vuitton and its partners, all hard at work constructing the modernist backdrop for the show. Even as the decoration is being assembled, Margot, Célia and Emmanuel from the Events and Environment teams are already considering its dismantlement. In the company of our production agency and our cultural association partner, the installation goes hand-in-hand with the determination and selection of sustainable materials to be recovered, reused and recycled in a zero-waste objective.
From shows to windows to exhibitions, the Maison creations are made to last. Season after season, the Louis Vuitton Events, Visual Image Studio and Environment teams work together, considering how to integrate concrete solutions to reduce the environmental impact of our ephemeral installations from their earliest stages, from the choice of materials to their end of use. These solutions are transforming our approach and challenging our creative processes... But most importantly, they work. In 2020, 85 % of the materials used at the principal Maison events were reused and recycled. To achieve such a performance, the teams are exploring two vast fields of optimization for the end of material life cycles: reuse – in the form of donations to associations – and recycling. All the materials used for the Women’s Fall-Winter 2020 show at La Samaritaine – principally wood, metal and plastic – went on to live an extended life, since they were reused in the field of cultural creation. That was also the case for 100 % of the elements for the decor of the Time Capsule exhibition, which was held in Mexico City in 2019, when they were donated to two local charity organizations. Thanks to our teams and local partners, our approach to recycling is also navigating new, sustainable waters, demonstrated by more than half of fish made of recycled plastic that were featured in our Japanese Shoal of Fish windows.
The dismantlement of the show decoration is made right after the collection presentation, and the recuperated elements immediately go on to begin a new life. Out of the 100 tons of materials used in total, more than 51 tons of wood, metal, plastic and rugs were collected to begin a new life cycle in the hands of members of the association, most of whom represent artistic and cultural structures. The almost 50 remaining tons were mainly reused internally. Such was the case for a portion of the travertine flooring: it was quickly recuperated by the Visual Merchandising team at the showroom, and then sent along to our Vendôme and Beaulieu workshops, where the stones are already beginning a third phase in their lives.
Such positive results show that we are living up to the recent Maison commitment in favor of protecting natural resources: by 2025, we are committed to reusing or recycling 100 % of event-related materials. In other words, taking the ephemeral and making it sustainable.