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"sustainability" Tag


Wij de cirkel


Thursday, November 30, 2017

200.000 Jaar geleden ontstond ‘de moderne mens’ (Homo Sapien). In de voorbije jaren zijn we geëvolueerd tot een rechtoplopend, rationeel, gemoderniseerd wezen. Goed? Slecht? Voor allebei valt iets te zeggen. Maar een feit is dat we, met name de laatste paar eeuwen, een extreme focus hebben op ‘groei’, ‘verder gaan’, ‘slimmer worden’ en veelal ‘rijker worden’. Allen op zich niet per definitie ‘slecht’, echter wel wanneer je dit bekijkt vanuit het oogpunt van het heden en de omgang met en staat van de aarde en het milieu. En daarbij zit de mens en zijn welzijn automatisch inbegrepen.

Duurzaamheid, circulariteit, systeemverandering, het is nodig dat we daar bewust van worden en meer nog dat we er ook gehoor aan geven; het systeem drastisch veranderen.

Hoe? Ja, een vraag waar nog geen eenduidig antwoord op is, en waarschijnlijk ook niet op komen gaat. Wel is het mogelijk dat we het systeem als geheel in onze manier van denken veranderen, waarbij vooruitgang en groei automatisch geassocieerd wordt met duurzaamheid, circulariteit en ‘onderdeel zijn van de natuur, de aarde en het universum’.

Deze volledige omwenteling van patronen in het denken en doen ontstaat enkel door simpelweg ‘te beginnen’. En wel bij jezelf. Zodat van hieruit langzaam maar zeker door de tijd heen deze olievlek uitvloeit en uiteindelijk ‘de totale mensheid’ heeft overgenomen.

Nu is deze olievlek de laatste jaren al langzaam iet wat aan het uitvloeien, wat een onwijs goed begin is; het bewustzijn wordt groter, meer mensen starten hun projecten, acties en groeperingen om dit bewustzijn om te zetten in handelen en inmiddels komen meer en meer ideeën en kennis de wereld in om het systeem te veranderen.

Tjeerd Veenhoven, is zo’n olie druppel die gelooft in dit uitvloeien en is begonnen met projecten waarin circulariteit van natuur-materiaal, behoud van natuur, duurzaamheid, tegengaan van verspilling, het welzijn van de mens en het terugdringen van milieuvervuiling en de opwarming van de aarde centraal staan. Middels kunst, design en mode brengt hij zijn gedachtegoed én toepassing de wereld in, wat een directe verbinding legt tussen de mensen en deze ‘systeemverandering’. Ik geloof erin dat dit de beste manier is om bewustzijn over deze onderwerpen (en daarbinnen te laten zien dat deze idealen en dromen omgezet kunnen worden in realiteit) te creëren en op die manier de snelste weg zullen zijn naar het ook daadwerkelijk handelen en toepassen van deze idealen en dus naar totale systeemverandering.

Met name het ‘algenproject‘ van Tjeerd verwonderde mij ontzettend (gezien in Boijmans van Beuningen museum, tentoonstelling Change The System). Dit project was voor mij de aanleiding tot het schrijven van dit stuk. Met dit algenproject maakt hij een fantastische link tussen klimaat- en duurzaamheidsproblematiek, de samenleving en het creëren van bewustzijn.  Op een zeer toegankelijke wijze kaart hij tegelijkertijd twee problemen aan: duurzaamheid binnen de mode-industrie, een industrie waar iedereen gebruik van maakt, en de exorbitante groei van algen, een natuurlijk product dat veel mogelijkheden en voordelen in zich draagt, maar nu als probleem gezien wordt. Met zijn project, waarbij hij textieldraad maakt uit algen, maakt hij, door een koppeling te leggen tussen twee problemen, een oplossing voor beide issues -geeft hij hier zelfs een meerwaarde aan; geeft hij de problemen een verrijking- én biedt hij mogelijkheden en inzichten tot systeemverandering, oa omdat dit project een metafoor zou kunnen zijn voor veel grotere onderwerpen en oplossingsgericht en idealistisch denken. Want dit project is in uitkomst wellicht vrij gericht; in manier van denken en het aanpakken van deze in het fundament grootse problemen is dit een onwijs sterk, breed en essentieel project.

Al lang droom ik over mijn eigen oliedruppel die de olievlek verder zal doen vloeien. Net als Tjeerd Veenhoven wil ik dit gedachtegoed de wereld in krijgen en laten zien dat mijn dromen wezenlijk kunnen worden en daarmee dus ook bij anderen systeemverandering mogelijk is.

Een grote inspiratiebron voor mij en mijn droom was Claudy Jongstra, een Nederlandse (vilt)kunstenares-textielontwerper. Zij gaat nog een stap verder dan Tjeerd. Zij (en haar ‘team’) probeert het bewustzijn te vergroten en haar idealen om te zetten door de levenswijze ook daadwerkelijk anders in te richten. Ik heb met haar contact gezocht om mij op deze wijze meer in haar werk en ideeën te verdiepen. Een aangenaam mailcontact en mooie ideeën als gevolg. Wegens tijdoverwegingen en drukte was het niet mogelijk haar ‘commune’ te bezoeken of een samenwerking aan te gaan, echter heb ik mij wel meer verdiept in wat zij doen en hoe, ook op die manier geïnspireerd te raken en mijn eigen plannen en ideeën concreter te maken. Claudy en haar team combineren namelijk kunst en natuur op een behoorlijk ver doorgevoerde wijze; ze hebben een ‘boerderij‘ opgezet waar creativiteit, duurzaamheid, natuur, ambachten, lokaliteit en circulariteit centraal staan en worden samengevoegd. Zo verbouwen ze onder anderen hun eigen planten voor het verven van de wol (van eigen schaapskudde) voor Claudy’s viltkunstwerken, gebruiken ze de klei uit de grond voor keramiekprojecten, begeleiden ze jongeren (met een achterstand) en kunst- en designstudenten van over de hele wereld en verbouwen ze op biodynamische wijze hun eigen voedsel. Op deze manier is er op micro- en macroniveau een circulaire beweging gaande binnen deze commune. Erg interessant hierin is de koppeling van deze eigen idealen en projecten met ‘de buitenwereld’; het is niet enkel voor henzelf; er zit een ‘olievlek-streven’ in.

Er is namelijk duidelijk gestreefd naar een hoger doel: het bewustzijn vergroten over ‘hoe het ook kan’; over idealisme vs realisme. Hier een link naar hun projectplan, waarin heel duidelijk en goed omschreven is (voor diegenen die zich hierin zover interesseren) hoe zij dit alles samenbrengen en welke projecten ze op korte termijn organiseren om de samenleving hierin te betrekken. Interessant is dat er even sprake was een samenwerking met haar voor het Waste no Waste project in Groningen (mei/juni 2018), echter heb ik dit helaas moeten afwijzen ivm tijdkwesties.

Dit alles, het inspireert mij zo; laat mij dromen, borrelt de kriebels op om nóg een stap verder te gaan:

Het totaal incorporeren van circulariteit. Ik ben er mee bezig en het vormt een leidraad in mijn leven. Ik zoek naar het omzetten in realiteit. Een plek waar alles en iedereen een cirkel is. Het betreft een dorp, waar natuur met mens en leven samengaan; waar kunst met mens en leven samengaan. Hier volgt mijn vooruitzicht. Mijn pad, mijn droom, mijn geloof, mijn verleden dat het heden naar de toekomst brengt. Hier volgt mijn aller eerste in-een-notendop-conceptplan.

Ooit

Ben ik ik

Sta ik in een kring

Kringen om mij heen

Ben ik een kring


Zelfvoorzienend Ecodorp, tuinarchitectuur gewassen verbouwen

stap 1. ik zoek de wereld rond. naar een landje om te starten. aarde en water, bomen en lucht. hoor je de stilte? fluisterend naar de overkant. en dan weer terug. natuurlijk. een ronde cirkel.

stap 2. ik pak mijn houten bordje. plaats ‘m in het midden. ‘ik nodig alle ronde mensen uit. en iedereen die rond wil worden.’ dan draai ik om en neem mijn weg terug. natuurlijk. een circulaire weg.

stap 3. ik lach naar alle mensen. vraag ze met mij te komen. ben jij rond? of wil je dat worden? kom je dan met mij mee? zie je dat, eigenlijk willen we het allemaal. we klimmen op de benenwagen. langzaam maar gestaag. we reizen terug naar waar we van verlangen. natuurlijk. een verlangen is een cirkel.

Ecologische-waarde-van-Ecodorp-Boekel
Circulariteit binnen het reilen en zeilen van een ecodorp, verdeeld in drie diensten

stap 4. we laden onze benenwagen uit. potten pannen lepels en kannen. messen broeken jurken en doeken. naalden schroeven hamers en alles dat we nodig hebben om ons nog in het leven te vertoeven. natuurlijk. we hebben een cirkel.

stap 5. we stapelen het hout. mengen zand met paardenpoep. slaan een spijkertje waar nodig. verstevigen met steen. het stro dat wordt het dak. panelen van de zon  zoeken een weg de warmte door te geven. natuurlijk. een kringloop.

stap 6. ik scheer mijn schaapjes. heb ze oh zo lief. was de wol. roer het in de warme baden van de berkenbast. of het kurkuma van het boompje verderop. kneed het fijn tot kleden aan de muur. de schaapjes doen hun best en maken nieuwe haren aan. natuurlijk. een cirkel houdt nooit op.

ecodorp-bergen-plattegrond
Bestemmingsplan Ecodorp Bergen - Expliciet de verbinding en combinatie met kunst, cultuur, educatie en verbinding met de 'buitenwereld'.

stap 7. mijn buurman oogst zijn graan. bakt broden op het vuur. zijn buurvrouw droogt de thee, schildert met de kleuren van de tuin en hoort daarnaast ook nog de harten van de ouderen. kloppen ze nog wel? haar dochter bouwt de meubels. van eiken en mahonie. geeft les in ademhalen. en zo doet elk ronde wezen wat. natuurlijk. geven en nemen is een cirkel.

stap 8. de cirkel is open. lange mensen lopen langs en worden rond. er komt een huisje bij. en handen. een ziel een hoofd een hart. we worden wijzer en stiller. zoals dat gaat. alle handen maken samen.  natuurlijk. de cirkel wordt groter.

stap 9. ik zoek de wereld rond. nu in mijn ronde cirkeltje. verwelkom alle nieuwe ronde mensen. ik zie de cirkels en de kringen. hoor je de stilte? hij fluistert ‘ik ben zo blij, ik kan hier zijn!’. natuurlijk. we zijn een cirkel.

Scan 12 Nov 2017 at 13.44 page 6

Mijn eerste conceptplan betreffende de inrichting van 'het dorp'.

The Aesthetic Green


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Facing the future access to resources and the wish to preserve today’s climate, changes need to be made.
Looking at the world of design there has always been a tendency to broaden the horizon of consumers, buyers and users. Designers found ways to deal with daily life difficulties, which weren’t considered as a problem until there was a solution, as well as they made groundbreaking discoveries. Some designers are pioneers in developing and processing innovative materials into aesthetic products and others find solutions for social and psychological conflicts by approaching them from unusual angles.
In the last years the concept of sustainable design raised and increased, showing it’s today’s presence in plenty of remarkable projects with approaches diffusing across various disciplines as fashion, architecture, product design and even fiction.

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This is to be seen at exhibitions such as ‘Change The System’ in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, where many projects were dedicated to sustainability.
So Eric Klarenbeek, called the designer of the unusual, who developed a 3D printing material based on straw, water and Mycellium, the threadlike vegetative part of fungus. Printed into a thin layer of bio-plastic the material can gain stability through drying and – in Klarenbeek’s case – become a chair. He went even further and created possibilities to 3D print with only local materials as algae, potato etc.
Remarkable is the aesthetic presence of the final products. Cups, vases, bowls, which you simply want to hold in your hand but cannot as they are displayed in the showcases. This might be what makes a researcher become a designer: using the power of aesthetics to create a bridge leading from innovative development to the manifestation of the product in daily life.

Unfortunately many green designers are seen as criminals when it comes to aesthetics. Next to the pursuing of sustainability as something of moral value, aesthetics are sometimes seen as luxury and therefore a waist of energy.
People who are already familiar with sustainable values, seem to see the beauty in the ethics.
However, this understanding of beauty requires the motivation to consume with a small footprint. A motivation which wants to be spread.
Thus, the power of an object’s visual appearance shouldn’t be underestimated. It can communicate and celebrate ideals and make users value the object and what it stands for.
Experiments in interaction design even reveal that people consider objects they emotionally bond to, as more functional – and use them more likely.

In the end we conserve only what we love.”
Baba Dioum

Thus objects which don’t attract us on an emotional level, will simply not be used and kept.
If it’s not beautiful, it’s not sustainable. Aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern – it’s an environmental imperative.” wrote Lance Horsey in his book The Shape of Green. He is the first to write and examine the relationship of sustainability and beauty. According to him “beauty could save the planet” as in the end people consume and use what they love. Horsey here uses the example of wolves and dogs to enhance his theory:

The fate of many things depends on whether they please people. Wolves might seem heartier than dogs, but there are 50 million dogs in the world and only ten thousand wolves. Which has adapted better? This view of nature may give you pause—should other species exist just to please us? But as a principle for design, it is essential. If you want something to last, make it as lovable as a Labrador.

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We personalize things we use – and we use things which are personal.
Based on this theses, Jonathan Chapman helps to create an alternative consumer’s philosophy, than our present ‘throw away’ society has. He developed a new design strategy, called Emotionally Durable Design.
Through the conscious shaping and strengthening of the emotional bonding between consumer and object, one can endure the using period and thus reduce waste. According to him this can be achieved through the consideration of the following five elements:

How users share a unique personal history with the product: Narrative
How the product is perceived as autonomous and in possession of its own free will: Consciousness
Can a user be made to feel a strong emotional connection to a product? Attachment
The product inspires interactions and connections beyond just the physical relationship: Fiction
How the product ages and develops character through time and use: Surface

This results in products such as the Stain tea cup of Bethan Laura Wood – an object which gains character through being used. It builds up an individual pattern of tea stains, according to the personal ways of drinking tea.
To establish this design approach further, Lance Horsey asks the question:

What if we created a different approach to aesthetics, one based on intelligence and not intuition? Can we be as about how things look as we are about how they work?

Answers will lead to new aesthetics based on the complex connections of efficiency, sustainability, character, endurance, and the potential to develop with the users personal demand. An understanding of aesthetics which goes beyond an object’s physical presence.

The unimaginable is what keeps me exploring


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

CHANGE THE SYSTEM: IRIS VAN HERPEN

The first time I saw 3D Prints I was fascinated by the complexity it allows to generate, where your imagination is the only limit to create any shape. I wondered what the future of the way we make things would look like and how would that affect our lives. What kind of products will we produce?

I was intrigued by the shapes of the dresses exhibited at “Change the System”, and found out that Iris made an entire collection  using mainly umbrellas sticks, and that  she uses a lot of 3D Prints and laser cut fabrics in her collections. She spends a lot of time experimenting and researching new materials before start making, combining craftsmanship with the use of new technologies. She also collaborates with many people from other disciplines and incorporates new inputs, which I think is essential to develop new ways of making.

I question to myself what are the possibilities of fashion in between the arise of new technology and old craftsmanship. Materiality is changing as we develop new tools and materials, and so is the way we produce. If we change the way we produce then we will change our relationship with our possessions.

FAST FASHION

Fast fashion allows people to buy fashionable outfits inspired by the latest trends in the runway  and get them for a very low price. Mainstream consumers are now able now to afford new things that will last for a very short time. Fast fashion is unsustainable (fast discard, waste of manufacture and after consumption), unethical and unoriginal.

Consumption has clearly a very deep influence in our society, and buying clothes now responds to a wish more than a need: we no longer buy because we really need it, but because we desire them. “(…) the consumption of symbolic meaning, particularly through the use of advertising as a cultural commodity, provides the individual with the opportunity to construct, maintain and communicate identity and social meanings” (Elliot, “Existential consumption and irrational desire”, 1997 [x]), and marketing plays a “key role in giving meaning to life through consumption” (van Raaij, 1993 [x]).

We are involved in a cycle where trends go faster than ever, and are hard to keep up: what matters is not the quality, but how fast it gets to the shop and how cheap it is.The process of  obsolescence of the garments is already planned from the beginning: it’s meant to replace the old season and attract new purchases. We throw away and buy a new one.

Fast fashion becomes the opposite of creative and original pieces. In a way is about copying what is analysed as trendy, producing it as fast as possible to replace the previous trend. We don’t have any attachments to our possessions, no story behind them: we discard them once they are out of trend.

One of the biggest problems of fast fashion is that produces enormous amount of waste we don’t know how to deal with, as well of an increasingly overconsumption of low quality products that are made to be thrown away soon.

watse landfill

SWEATSHOPS

Retailers sell products that are being manufactured in undeveloped countries, where the labour cost is very low. The globalization of the free trade world market enables “race to the bottom” situations and sweatshops are the best example .

The catastrophe in Bangladesh, 2013 is the most horrible example: an eighth floor garment factory building collapses killing massive amounts of people. It was the deadliest garment-factory incident in history. The conditions under which they were working were so immensely deplorable that it had to get to this catastrophic point to raise awareness.

The large retailers but they are competing for lower production costs, and implementing unethical measures to keep the low prices at store.

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SLOW FASHION ///

TECHNOLOGY AND SUSTAINABILITY

We are starting to become aware about what we are consuming. Where, how and by whom was produced is becoming more and more relevant. I strongly believe that is of mayor importance to ask  that question and try to understand the mechanism of the chain production and global economy dynamics. I see an urge to create new, sustainable and better quality products.

Slow fashion is a movement that stands for long lasting high quality products, where the production process is transparent. They make garments reducing waste as much as possible, socially and environmentally ethical. They make sure the fabrics are Eco-conscious, the garments are produced locally and with less waste possible.

Changing the way people make their own garments and making accessible and easy to do, will also change the way they relate to their clothing. There will be more appreciation and another type of value to our possessions. It will also allow us to express our own identity through original and valuable pieces. We won’t look for images to buy, it will come from our imagination and more honest desires. It is also about generating an emotional and personal value with our possessions.

I think 3D print and other technologies will disrupt the production chain in a positive way. This way the  consumer will be  more involved with the idea and the production process of the piece that what she/he wants to wear, maybe even print our own garments at home or small objects.

Iris has an urge to change fashion industry. Innovation is also who to collaborate with to create a groundbreaking garment, avoiding waste and incorporating new technologies.

What if we could bring technologies and slow fashion together? Which materials and tools can we bring into fashion that would change the way we produce and consume? What will technology allow us? It is interesting to think how the future of fashion will look like, but fundamental to bring resources to local communities and development of conscious business, local development of ideas and conscious entrepreneurs.

 

 

Techno Beauty


Sunday, November 27, 2016

We humans have created technologies and machines to enhance our lives, we invented cars to liberate ourselves, built all kinds of factories to raise efficiency, but now these innovations are striking back, making the environment extremely polluted in high-density cities; some visible, while others may be invisible, but still left the real impact on our daily life and health. Think about donating 50 euro to get a Smog Free Ring[x], which contains smog filtered from 1000 m3 of air, in order to support the Smog Free Tower and Smog Free Project by Studio Roosegaarde.
Will this make a real contribution to solve the problem of pollution? By purchasing a Smog Free Cube, Ring, or Cufflink, are you purchasing a souvenir, a design or are you building your association with the Smog Free Project, the anti pollution movement?

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Daan Roosegaard’s Smog Free Ring • Smog filter in Bejing

Our technical interaction with artworks has only developed within the last decade at the level of using touch screen to improve the understanding of drawings, but now in the art and design world, both these two elements have been introduced to the real application domain.

3 Dune by Daan Roosegaarde, Photo Tomek Whitfield_originalFigure-1-X-Ray-Examination
Daan Roosegaard’s public interactive landscape Dune (2006-2012) • John Constable: The Great Landscapes” 2006

 

To gain a better understanding of this change, we can look at Daan Roosegaard’s public interactive landscape Dune[x] (2006-2012) which interacts with human behavior, and the Tate Britain exhibition “John Constable: The Great Landscapes[x]” in 2006. The Great Landscape used X-Ray examination and Drawing screen to help the visitors to obtain an understanding of Constable’s working practice and techniques through body movements in front of the X-Ray projection and figure movements on the touch screen (Engaging Constable: Revealing Art with New Technology), while  Dune served itself, stood for a hybrid of nature and technology, artwork and the way to present the artwork. It is composed of large amounts of fibers that brighten and made sounds according to the sound and motions of visitors. Both enhanced social interactions with the help of sense-based technologies and being recorded with cameras and microphones in order to study and analyze people’s interactions, Dune and The Great Landscape had quite different starting points.

The visual impact of the eyes decrease as the other senses are heightened due to the introduction of tactility and sound, thus the aesthetic value is no longer of primary importance and the design opens up a broader spectrum of uses and practicality. This also explains Daan Roosegaard’s later works, how he uses modern technology to deal with multiple subjects; such as the relationship between intimacy and body (high-tech fashion project Intimacy[x], 2010), the historical heritage and sustainable idea (Van Gogh Path[x] [x], 2014), the power and poetry of living with water in Netherlands (Waterlicht[x], 2015 and Icoon Afsuiltdijk[x]).

The modern presentations of art and design in museums and galleries provide personal and collaborative experiences as The Great Landscape did, but Roosegaarde’s tactile high-tech environments enable the viewer and space to become one, not only because it can encourage more people to interact with each other and the environment simultaneously, but also because the technology leads the viewers to become both users and performers, thus the art raises people’s awareness of public issues.

Concerning its unique background associated with environment protection and sustainable development, the Smog Free Ring distances itself completely from traditional souvenirs in a museum and the association created by purchasing it, just as putting yourself in the Dune and reacting with it stands apart from the traditional way to appreciate an artwork. But is this different to other design works which also aim to serve a better life?
As science and technology are an essential part of his work, I want to introduce the Three Cycle Review of Design Science Research from Alan R.Hevner’s ”A Three Cycle View of Design Science Research”.

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A Three Cycle View of Design Science Research [download as pdf]

 

Design Science Research is motivated by the desire to improve the environment by introducing new and innovative artifacts and processes. The Three Cycle Review of Design Science Research consists of Relevance Cycle, Design Cycle and Rigor Cycle. Good Design Science Research often starts by identifying problems in an actual application environment or recognizing the potential to improve a practice before a new problem occurs. When applied to the Smog Free Tower, people’s neglect towards air pollution interested Daan to think about building the largest purifier in order to solve the problem. In the Relevance Cycle, the air-polluted environment is not only where the problem is found, but also a testing field in order to see if the design results meet the criteria. Then, they moved to Rigor Cycle and the knowledge base and found the existing air purification technology which is used in the hospital. Following the search for technology, they moved to the internal Design Cycle, and built the Smog Free Tower based on the original issue found in the environment and the technology found in the knowledge base. While the artifact is being built, field testings are input from the relevance Cycle and the design and evaluation methods to Relevance Cycle and Rigor Cycle. After several rounds of improvement, The Smog Free Tower and The Smog Free Ring, which contained both technology and beauty were born.

To give a brief conclusion, pragmatic science, interaction between human, responsibility for the living environment and beauty are core components in Daan Roosegaard’s works and in the future world of art and design. But not only the world of art and design, or let’s say, since art and design has gradually found their new position in 21th Century, they will no long serve aesthetics as the core matter. Techno Beauty, as how Daan Roosegaard described his own works, may becomes a direction in design to beautify and save the world.

 

Can high-end designs have any social significance?


Sunday, November 27, 2016

On first sight I loved Formafantasma’s designs, they held a certain elegance and beauty in their simplicity, the back to basics materials, gathered from the natural world juxtapose themselves, feeling both strong and delicate at the same time. It brought out my childhood fascination, I recalled scavenging for treasures on the British beaches of my childhood and taking them home to make new creations or to merely bring a glimpse of the natural world into my home in the dense, man-made city. These designers took this fascination, a primal human action of scavenging/collecting to an industrial level, contemplating the natural world by sampling, casting, weaving, reshaping their materials, making connections between unlikely materials to form a delicate balance between the rough and smooth, fragile and strong.

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Bone Jug, 2012 (Cowbone, leather, mouth blown glass) from Craftica series

Their work is fascinating also because of the delicacy with which they deal with their subject matter, not only with the physical properties of the materials but the symbolic and historical meaning. Their project Craftica for instance is an investigation into leather, highlighting our ancient roots of hunting for food, tools and body protection. They channel prehistoric tools, durable tools for survival made of bone and stone, combining the simplicity of these ancient tools into a modern aesthetic.

Tools of bone were originally a practical use of materials but are now becoming a design statement, a hark back to our ancestral heritage, a sign of simpler times within a society too lazy to source sustainable, durable materials, instead opting for the cheap, easy version –mass produced materials with processes which are quickly damaging our environment.

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Wolffish stool, 2012 (Wood, vegetal tanned wolffish leather)
Bladders water containers, 2012 (Pig and cow bladders, brass, mouth blown glass, cork)
from Craftica series

It is designers such as Formafantasma who are questioning this use of cheap, destructive materials, replacing them with more sustainable/unique alternatives. With each piece you can see where the materials came from and you question the story behind each material; the fish skin leather –a by-product of the fish food industry, in Alaska alone there are 2 billion pounds of fish by-products every year including fish skins which are often dumped into landfill or back into the ocean, left to pollute the water and kill off species’ (x article on an Alaskan start-up using salmon skin leather), or the cork leather –by harvesting the species of oak tree, Quercus Suber of their bark to form cork every 9 years rather than harming the trees it helps them live longer. Therefore, these designs are refreshing in a society where we don’t know where so many of our products come from.

However all of this comes at a price, an unlabelled price, a sale inquiry at a high-end gallery. Does this step into the elite then diminish the beauty or sustainability of these objects? These products, inspired by those that were once precious items necessary for survival then become an expensive showpiece. The matters of sustainability aren’t so important, it then becomes about the recognition and the money. Is it enough that they are potentially inspiring a next generation of designers, or inspiring the people that visit the Stedelijk museum to think more about where their everyday products come from? This engagement with the issue of the way we deal with our resources engages the viewer but it doesn’t solve the problem, instead it benefits the designer, giving them the recognition of being a sustainable designer making unique products.

So, are there sustainable, affordable designers out there who are actually impacting the way we live? Of course there are many design companies trying to come up with solutions to these problems, a good example is material science company, Evocative who have developed Mushroom Materials, a sustainable building material made from agricultural byproducts and mushroom Mycelium; these provide a natural alternative to common synthetic packaging and the company have experimented with using this as both packaging and a material for product design, producing stools and tables, as well as offering an affordable DIY pack. This opens up a way of buying products that are good for our environment, in addition to encouraging people to make their own products. A number of different designers have experimented with Mushroom Materials, for example architectural studio The Living built an organic tower Hy-Fi for the annual MoMA temporary structure, a biodegradable material was therefore perfect for the temporary building. By creating this innovative material Evocative have opened a door to a new future material that could replace the depleting materials that are destroying our environment.

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Grow It Yourself, Mushroom Material from Evocative $10
Hy-Fi, 2014 The Living Pavilion made with Mushroom Material

Another example of innovative sustainable design is the Paper Pulp Helmet designed by Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas, who made use of the many discarded newspapers around London’s transport system and recycled these to form helmets which would potentially cost £1, thus a low-cost environmentally-friendly solution to bike safety in the city. The design was just a prototype but the cheap and recyclable material/process is a perfect example of the future direction of design we need to take in order to preserve the planet.

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Paper Pulp Helmet, 2013 Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

In my research I found it very difficult to find these examples, searching for ‘sustainable product design’ offers a lot of high-end designers with very expensive products or similarly to Formafantasma prices aren’t shown and they are presented in galleries more as a work of art than a sustainable design, therefore they aren’t presenting an immediate solution.

Perhaps we need government schemes to encourage designers/bigger companies to use better materials and to sell these products at affordable prices so they can compete with the mass-produced products that are often badly made and harmful to the environment. In recent years we have seen many countries across the world introduce a charge for plastic bags in supermarkets. This due to the fact that around 8m tonnes of plastic makes its way into the world’s oceans each year, posing a serious threat to the marine environment. The charge was introduced by the government to try to influence consumer behavior and the result is massively affecting the amount of plastic waste, in England the number of single-use plastic bags was reduced by 85% over the first six months. If governments enforced similar rules on other products; introducing taxes to products with harmful materials then perhaps it could influence consumers to opt for better sourced products.

We, as consumers have brought about this problem, being so materialistic yet simultaneously too lazy to source sustainable products; we are struck by the aesthetic of a product and buy it without thinking where it came from or the ethical implication, just as I was struck by Formafantasma’s work in the Stedelijk, not considering the possible downsides of the designs. If there was a large scale enforcement of better quality, environmentally-friendly products then maybe consumers would think more before they buy.

The future that never arrived


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Most major cities in Japan were left in ruins after the second world war, in particular, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. In the post-atomic bomb area, Japan was democratized and turned into a nation with a pro-American orientation. As a response to the human and environmental catastrophe, and as with the growth of the Japanese economy in the early 1950s, proposals for urban redevelopment began to appear. This is when the first concrete example of urban planning with ideas that would later come to define the metabolism movement appeared. You can argue that it started with the designing of the reconstruction of Hiroshima. The Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and his team of architects was commissioned to make this plan.

 

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum / Kenzo Tange. The initial plan was presented in 1949 and the building was made in 1955. source: "Hiroshima mon amour [1959]"

 

In the 50’s Kenzo Tange was very oriented towards the international architecture scene, note the resemblances between the memorial building and the work of Le Corbusier. He also met up with and found inspiration in an architect such as Aldo Van Eyck who was in many ways in opposition to the “functionalism” of Corbusier that was criticized of ignoring its inhabitants. Van Eyck created the orphanage next to our school, and took part in coining the architectural movement structuralism that Tange also defined himself within.

 

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Orphanage / Aldo Van Eyck build in 1960. source

 

In short you can say that they shared some of the same ideas in creating spaces where the relationships between the elements are more important than the elements themselves – built structures corresponding to social structures. It wasn’t until 1960 that the movement was actually defined, by the architect Kiyonori Kikutake who created their first manifesto together with the architect Fumihiko Maki and Kisho Kurokawa:
Metabolism 1960 : The proposals for a new urbanism ”.
The name arrived to an other member of the movement, Kionory Kikutake, as he was working on a floating metropolis, his “Marine City” project.

 

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Marine City / Kiyonori Kikutake 1958. source

 

The word “Metabolism” comes from Greek and translates to “change” but also refers to the life-sustaining transformations within the cells of living organisms. As the name might suggest? they pushed that buildings and cities should be designed in the same organic way that life grows and changes by repeating metabolism.
The “Marine City” is one of many projects that was never realized but played a central role in the works of the Metabolists. It was this vanguard idea of taking on new space whether it be the ocean or the sky that was the foundation of their way of shaping “the future”. At the same time it required developing and making use of new technology. None of the experiments and realizations were made by single individuals but drew on the big think-tank that the Metabolist movement was from artists and writers to scientists and industrial designers. The “marine city” was a proposal for a solution to the rapid population boom especially taking place in Tokyo in the years after the war till the brink of the 60s. Kikutake believed that the ocean was the only valid space to develop in times of an imbalance between population and agricultural productivity.

 

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City in the air / Arata Isozaki 1961. Never realized.

 

As such sustainability was surely an integral part of this movement as well as resilience considering how the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis make for tough conditions in japan – especially for urban concentrations. Structure wise the Metabolist movement was characterized by taking certain architectural steps towards recognizing this. A main idea was to design architecture to be built around “spine-like” infrastructure on and around which pre-fabricated replaceable parts could be attached being almost cell-like. At the heart of this setup is also reorganization of the relationship between society and the individual.
Another important inspirational source was found in old Japanese shinto religion and a specific Ise Grand Shrine that carries the ritual of being created anew every 20 years. This is an example of how the Metabolists as a movement was wearing multiple meanings, being both modernists and traditionalists at the same time.

 

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Ise Shrine having been in continual existence since 690 C.E. source

 

The Metabolists respected environmentally-conscious boundaries and the material in which they worked. This gave them the pride, and also reluctance, to not be parted from their vision. To demonstrate and construct only that of ideas was monumental enough.

 

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Festival Plaza / Kenzo Tange and the artist Taro Okamoto, Osaka Expo, 1970. source

 

After 10 years of development and growth within the Metabolist Movement, the structure that was metabolism came to a climax, exhibiting some of their finest work, at Expo 70’ in Osaka, Japan. It was around this time that Kisho Kurokawa’s project, The Nakagin Capsule Tower, began construction. A process that took only 30 days to complete.

 

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Nakagin Capsule Tower / Kisho Kurokawa 1972.

 

This building would serve as an “icon” to the movement. After the Expo 70’ took place in Osaka, individual architects from the movement began to take a step forward personally, focusing more on individualism and self-driven growth. Ideas about sustainable development within the 21st century are not new ideas; they have spread through a continuous evolution. An end sometimes not only existing as an end, but that of a new beginning.
 

text by Christian Stender and Ivan Fucich

 

Reflecting Design Practise


Sunday, January 29, 2012

One of the first things I noticed when I saw the work of Sophie Krier for the first time is that there was definitely a lot more going on than just a simple design. She directly got my intention by a deep video about her grandfather @ Face value [x]. It was really based on reality, honesty, and with so many deep hidden emotions. I thought it was really interesting to see how she doesn’t directly throws it in your face. She is experiencing her work and daily life not only as a designer but also as a human, and a young women with a vision ‘designing is researching’.

Sophie Krier, video still from “Kabouter Revolutie”, 2009

(more…)


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