unnamed (10)Meet Erika Braccini (AKA Happy Designer Erika)… 
She may be able to fit in your back pocket, but don’t let that fool you, Erika is a women with big visions for creating a better tomorrow and she’s enlisted the help of thousands of worms to help her do it!
Yep, you heard right. Worms. Erika is a 3D Designer and has spent the summer on the exhibition circuit, picking herself up no less than 3 awards for her Gaia Cabinet; a project with primary schools, looking at preventing food waste, eating healthy and connecting with nature.
Erika strongly believes that the future of Conservation lies within Design. She decided to study and initiate this beautiful path within the design field because she believes that design is a new form of positive activism that has the potential to become a powerful tool to tackle and overcome environmental and social issues, and children are key to that tomorrow.
“Design is all around us, from the materials we design, to the objects we buy, to the houses we live in. I believe design and arts are more tangible ways to find possible solutions to make changes where need”.
Originally from Florence, Italy, Erika has lived in London for the past 6 years after graduating as a Designer from the Camberwell College of Arts in 2014. As well as her Design project, Erika works in a Nursery, and loves the positive interactions she has teaching the children about the environment and nature, and inspiring her designs.

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Erika is our Resident Designer aboard Amazon 2015 and she is beyond excited about the inspiration she knows she’s going to find at Sea, to inspire her next project. Erika hopes that with her eXXpedition design projects she can make a real impact and improve the quality of people’s lives and our environment.
So in between checking in on the worms, and inspiring the next generation of Wave Makers, I tracked Erika down and asked her to answer our eXXpedtion ‘hot seat’ questions, so we can all get to know a little better, what drives a 3D Designer to take to the Seas in search of Plastic Pollution?

Q: What colour is your toothbrush?

A: Light blue made of recycled yogurt cups – get yours here

Q: If you could teleport where would you go and why?

A: Ah! That’s very difficult question! I am so into travel that I would go anywhere! At present, I would mainly stop by some parts of the world to see good friends and special people who are now living far away from me. After which, I would go somewhere near the ocean, discover cities and meet new culture to open up my horizons.

Q: Who do you admire the most (dead or alive)?

A: Marina Silva

Q: What’s your top tip for reducing plastic use – what works for you?

A: Trying to buy less stuff and with less packing and whenever possible reuse and reuse. Not throwing away everything you have and try to live with less stuff.
I personally don’t think there is a problem with plastics itself. The problem, which is now a massive problem, arises because plastics have been used not in a conscious way.
There is an overuse of plastics for no reason. In my opinion there is not a big problem with a single plastic bag or products made with plastics, if these are used properly, accordingly and in a sensible way. The problem arises if one single person uses 4 different plastics bags a day. The problem is overuse and also how materials are designed.
Some materials are designed that are impossible to recycle, to take it apart and so they end up in the landfill causing pollution. Thus, my advice is to buy less stuff that in fact you don’t really need, prevail natural products whether possible but also products that can be recycled and use plastics products in a conscious way. For example, four tomatoes in single packaging, they can easily be bought in bulk without packaging.

Q: If you could put just one thing at the top of your bucket list, what would it be?

A: Swimming with whale sharks, dolphins and seahorses. If I could also hug them that would be amazing! Can also add to meet and hug sloth! Adorable creatures!

Q: What’s the most delightful word you can think of?

A: Empathy

Q: What’s your biggest fear?

A: Die with regrets. One of them would be not having seen the world

Q: Favourite flavour ice-cream?


Q: Who would be your 4 ultimate dinner party guests (dead or alive)?

A: I always wanted to have a long talk with Bob Marley and Nelson Mandela. I would love to share an inspiring conversation in front of a glass of port wine with James Lovelock, Karl Marx and Charlie Chaplin. I know I have said 5, sorry!

Q: Where would you go if you were invisible?

A: In the jungle and/or forests observing animals for hours, I think I would never be bored with watching them. I would also like to be in rooms where politicians talk about the current world situation, and find out how decisions are taken.

Q: If you owned your own Yacht, what would you call her?

A: Selvaggia (Italian word that means wild)

Q: What have you done that you are most proud of?

A: My 3D Design degree and thesis

Q: What would your Superhero power be?

A: Flying, to be able to go through the clouds (I always wanted to know the feeling) and to go down again flying over cities affected by war, and have the magical power of being able to touch bombs and turn them into flowers.
I would also love to have the power to be able to communicate with animals.

Q: What piece of advice have you been given that was most rewarding?

A: One of the last nights I spent in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after Rio+20 (United Nation Conference on Sustainable Development, where I was working as a volunteer photographer,) had finished, a Brazilian guy told me: Erika, if you really want to overcome your enemies you need to first get to know them properly and then work with them to make changes. Making war against them will not make them change, it is only by fighting from within that you will eventually bring them to act differently. It is only by working with them, and from within, that you can deeply know their ways, and eventually defeat them! This advice has completely change my views as to how to make changes where needed and within my ethos as a person. You can always overcome your enemies by understanding them and make them realise that there are other positive solutions to the current status quo.

Q: What’s the most important thing you want to take away from your eXXpedition voyage?

A: KNOWLEDGE. I believe knowledge is one of the most, if not the most powerful force, for people to avoid living in fear and to understand a given issue, and act responsibly and accordingly.
I want to understand the problem of plastics and their impact on people’s lives. I want to see with my eyes what the real impact of the problem is and experience it in person, as I believe this is the only way to know in-depth what this problem is. You can read as many books as you like and watch documentaries, but when you experience with your own skin is always another story. I want to bring back this knowledge and engage people in a discourse about pollution in the oceans and the existing connection between this pollution and people’s health. I also want to see how I would react to the harsh and extreme situation I will have to face during the expedition.

Q: What’s your favourite marine animal and why?

A: Whales as they can swim miles in the ocean, see the bottom of the ocean and also able to watch stars and the moon

Q: What’s the one thing that drives you crazy?

A: Disrespect

Thanks Erika! Some great and very thought-provoking answers there, I’m sure your stories and plans to change the world are going to make for very engaging after dinner dialogue with the other women of eXXpedition.
If you want to know more about Gaia Cabinet head over and follow Happy Designer Erika on Facebook  and www.erikabraccini.com or read more about Erika’s journey with eXXpedition and support her CrowdFunding Campaign here

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