Nicole Calistri is design manager and coordinator at Quaker Street. Hired to enhance operations until the co-working space opens next door, Nicole works on projects to decrease the impact of businesses on the environment. She aims to bring the method of Environment Centred Design (a term she coined) to institutions, organisations and individuals. You can find her in the cafe in the mornings, She’s always looking to have a chat at Quaker Street. Pop in to say hi!
You used to live in Italy, which part and how long did you live there for?
I was born in Brazil incidentally. I was 6 months in my mom’s belly when I suddenly decided to be born in Rio de Janeiro! My mom’s plan was to give birth in Italian land. I guess the universe wanted otherwise. I moved to Florence (Italy) when I was 2 years old and spent all my life there. Thus, I feel thoroughly Italian. I cherish all the years I passed in Italy and love it with all my heart. Since I moved to London, however, I became more aware of my mixed background. I am grateful for this, as I believe this awareness opened my mind towards acceptance and tolerance, fully integrating my identity to that of London.
How did your chance move to London occur?
I have a qualification and a diploma in Fashion Design and Operations. After my final exams in 2014, I was accepted at Polimoda to undertake the BA Business of Fashion. The course was run entirely in English. Thus, why not spend the summer in London to learn the language?! I came here on 15th July 2014, and a month later I had made my mind to pursue my studies in the capital of the world. I was just in love with the city and the people. I had also fallen in love with the course BA Design Management and Cultures. Thus, I spent an entire year learning the language to then continue my studies in October 2015. Moving to London was the most random occurrence in my life – and randomness is what makes life exciting!
Was there a specific moment or event that registered your interest in environmental sustainability?
There is no specific event or moment. Many moments and events since I moved to London have influenced my awareness and later the interest I have into making businesses environmentally sustainable. The BA Design Management and Cultures was probably the first input. During my first year, I was able to expand my knowledge of the fashion industry from a Design Management perspective. Having learned the impacts that this has on a global scale, I have not bought a piece of clothing in four years. Successively, I was hungry to know the environmental impact of human beings from a philosophical point of view. The exhibition held in 2015 at the CCCB (Barcelona) HUMAN+ was a significant inspiration. The reading of Sapiens (Harari 2014) and Homo Deus (Harari 2018), helped me visualise the enormous impact our species has on the environment and our contribution to the Anthropocene.
Learning about Planetary Thinking also aligned my values to environmental sustainability. A talk held by Andres Colmenares, co-founder of think tank IAM was my first encounter with the concept. Planetary Thinking implies that everything is connected and that all our actions and choices have an impact on the planet – no matter how small and insignificant. Almost 8 billion people on earth make decisions every second around the world – Planetary Thinking pushes you to reflect on the past, present and future of everything you wear, eat use and buy. Every small habit changed can have less impact on the Earth. Armed with Planetary Thinking, I collaborated with a great team on Choices – A movement and an app that facilitates the transition to environmental sustainability for business and individuals.
Do you have an opinion on whether or not the planet can survive the human race and climate change?
I am fascinated by utopian and dystopian futures. However, I believe that the human race will always live in a world which combines both. Nations and individuals are becoming more aware of environmental issues. My positive self is confident that policymakers, companies, organisations and individuals will gradually change for the better of the planet, and my vision is to help them do so.