Material Futures Where science, technology and design collide
MATERIAL FUTURES We don’t really know what the future holds. But if, like us, you value the research and expert opinion of the world’s most credible reports and experts on climate change, you can guess it will be bleak. From the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) that evidences that more than 27% of all known species on Earth are at risk of imminent extinction, the latest global emissions tests that show that greenhouse gas emissions have increased to over 6 gigatonnes (1 gigatonne is equivalent to 10,000000000 billion tonnes of TNT), or NASA’s startling research that suggests that the Arctic will be ice-free in 30 years, it is now clearer than ever before that we must start not only taking responsibility for these catastrophic climate emergencies, but also start acting accordingly. However, whilst our global industry and political leaders are either impotent or in complete denial about the challenges we face, it feels that we are beginning to witness a marked change in the public perception of these issues. Since the two years that our graduates have been with us on Material Futures we have seen the mass movement and formation of Extinction Rebellion, the rise of school protests by children such as Greta Thunberg, a surge of elected Green Members in the European Parliament and, perhaps most surprising of all, that sustainability issues are now at least becoming debated and discussed on mainstream television, no doubt due to the soft power of Blue Planet and national treasure David Attenborough. As for our graduates, never before has it felt such a depressing time to be a global citizen. From the political misery that is Brexit, Trump’s depressing ‘zero-tolerance’ policy or the Supreme Court’s ruling to reverse female rights in the US, not to mention the underreported and forgotten wars and genocides taking place in Yemen, Myanmar, Iraq, Syria, Sudan and Darfur, it is clear that the challenge to affect positive change is immense.
However, far from being simply overwhelmed by such events, I am continually impressed by the resilience of our graduates and their ability to identify new opportunities to become active agents of change. All too aware of the detrimental impacts that our discipline can sometimes have, our graduates see design as the means and vehicle in which to untangle, debate and try to resolve the political, societal and cultural problems that we face in ways that our current political and world leaders simply can’t. The sheer diversity and complexity of this year’s work also demonstrates a willingness of this year’s graduates to expand their own understanding of a single subject and really collaborate with experts... from lab-grown sequins, harnessing the unrealised power of both squids and vaginas to democratically mining bitcoins at sea, it is clear that this year’s graduates have every ambition to not just propose alternative futures, but actively change the political, social, environmental and ethical landscape of today. However, this is also just the beginning for our graduates as they join an ever-expanding network of successful designers and practitioners from the Material Futures course who are paving the way in proposing new, more sustainable alternatives to the challenges of our changing world. To the political, industrial and business leaders of today, get a grip or move aside. However, to all the Material Futures practitioners, visiting lecturers, experts and technicians that have contributed to making this year’s projects a success, a sincere thank you.
KIEREN JONES, COURSE LEADER
The intersection of craft, science and technology
OUR AIM IS TO ACTIVELY RE-THINK THE FUTURE.
Through collaboration, risk-taking and blurring the worlds of craft, science and technology we look beyond existing boundaries to anticipate our future needs, desires and challenges for the 21st century.
Material Futures is a two-year Masters course at Central Saint Martins, dedicated to exploring how we will live in the future. The course is divided into two units across two years.
WE ENCOURAGE A WHOLLY MULTI-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO DESIGN. Materiality is the starting point of our design process; taking the things we can touch, feel, interact with and observe, we integrate high and low technological materials and processes to respond to the environment around us. Our students come from and continue to explore within a diverse range of disciplines, including fashion, architecture, industrial, communication, textile, critical, digital and speculative design.
RESEARCH IS INTRINSIC TO OUR DESIGN PROCESS. We practice research-driven design. We believe that it is only by observing and analysing how we live today that we can begin to consider and explore how we might live more sustainably tomorrow. Considering the current and future context of design decisions is key to our ethos, combining social, political, scientific and economic inquiry and insights to help inform future design scenarios, speculations and artefacts.
Year one provides an intensive and reactive learning experience. Students are exposed to a broad variety of new ideas and technical processes through a combination of workshops, lectures, expert collaborations and individual project briefs. Providing a bombardment of new ideas, processes and skills, our teaching encourages students to deconstruct their previous experience and expertise and instead adopt an open, experimental and multi-disciplinary approach to design. We value working with industry partners and usually incorporate at least one live project during the year. Year two study encourages students to reflect on their experiences gained in year one and consider their own design agenda and desired role within the creative industries. By synthesising the new processes and methodologies introduced to them in first year with their previous skills and experience, students formulate a single project proposal. All projects are directed by a single research question driven by the student’s personal definition of Material Futures in the context of a more sustainable future. Collaboration is key and all students engage external support from established practitioners and experts to help validate and strengthen their final projects. Both year groups enjoy a vibrant and diverse Design Perspectives lecture programme featuring inspiring speakers from the worlds of science, design, critical theory, craft and technology.
Find out more about joining us here: www.arts.ac.uk/csm/courses/postgraduate/ma-material-futures/
Martina Rocca Anne Vaandrager
After collaborating with independent studios such as FranklinTill and Arabeschi di Latte, Martina joined trend forecasting company WGSN in January 2019 as Editor of their Insight department which looks at emerging social behaviour in consumer society.
Anne has initiated a research project together with Lisa Mandemaker and Judith van den Boom. In collaboration with Dutch and British designers they created the first publication ‘State of Unsettlement - Brexit’ which will be launched at London Design Festival 2019 with a printed edition and presentation event.
Aurore Piette Aurore’s graduate project MARECREO was shown at United Matters in Eindhoven as part of Dutch Design Week 2018, along with other MAMF graduates. Since then, she has been in France working with engineers from Albi Mines to develop the project. The project won the Sustainable Award at 24H of Innovation 2019 in Spain and will soon be exhibited at the Röhsska Museum in Sweden as part of the Ocean Plastics Show. Aurore will be showing alongside designers such as Formafantasma, Studio Swine, Christien Meindertsma and Ocean Clean-Up. 04
Pamm Hong Pamm Hong’s “Watermelon Sugar’s Wellness Lab” was launched in February 2018 as part of the Sydney Design Festival and was extended due to popular demand. For the opening week, Pamm gave the keynote lecture alongside urban architect Joshua Bolchover. The work was shown alongside veterans including Lucy McRae and Ken Wong and was part of the larger theme of the festival “Common Good”. Since graduating, Pamm has also been working with DesignStudio as a Creative Strategist specialising in research-driven brand strategy and user experience.
Katie-May Boyd Katie has had a very busy year since she graduated. She started Styrlopop with a team of like-minded people who have expanded her polystyrene recycling process as a Circular Design Studio. Together they were one of the finalists in the Environment category of The Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition. The competition promotes and celebrates student innovation, employability and entrepreneurship. They won free office space for a year with The Office Group and are getting continued support from the Mayor’s office. Aside from that, Katie has been working as a Materials Researcher and Designer at the Design Against Crime Research Centre. She also took part in the BBC Four / Central Saint Martin’s Bauhaus documentary which will be aired soon!
Charlotte Kidger After graduating, Charlotte exhibited at the London Design Fair as part of their Material of the Year: Plastic showcase. She also exhibited at Mint Gallery, HIX Gallery, Hole & Corner and Craeftiga during the London Design Festival, as well as during Prague Design Week. She now has her own workshop in Camberwell and has the support of the Crafts Council Hothouse 12-month mentorship programme. Charlotte’s practice is split between creating made-to-order pieces for international clients as well as commissions for the likes of Woolmark, Haeckels, Selfridges and private clients.
Lena Saleh Lena is continuing to develop her Breath Lux Light which is designed to guide the reader through a breathing exercise using soft lighting. Made from Jesmonite, the amber light acts as a sedative to the sleeper at night but shines blue in the morning as a stimulant. She is now working with a wellness resort group in Australia called Revivo Hotels to develop this further. She has also launched a self-started unisex beauty brand called Skinvolve which explores the boundaries of materiality and beauty.
Design Museum Residency Designers in Residence is a core part of the Design Museum’s yearly programme. Each year, four designers are selected to explore a theme through their individual projects in the museum’s Residence Studio. The studio provides a place for the residents to work as well as a space to exhibit their finished projects. Material Future’s Year Leader, Marta Giralt, has been selected this year and will be exploring the theme of Cosmic along with the rest of the cohort who will be working in different disciplines. During her time on the residency, Marta will be researching Graphene and exploring new narratives and aesthetics to allow the public an insight into the hidden cosmos of nanotechnology.
Future Factory at the Design Museum
Extreme Desires for Critical Interrogation of Practice [CIP]
Whether through the excesses of plastic pollution or the burning of fossil fuels, our existing modes of production have unimaginable effects on the planet. And whilst factories have been major causes of these challenges, they have also been affected by them. Traditional forms of making are being lost due to climate change; workers are facing precarious working conditions and material scarcity is making existing infrastructure obsolete. As part of the Future Factory collaboration with the Design and Living Systems Lab and the Design Museum, Material Futures students developed a series of ‘Future Factories’ which explored a range of different production models ranging from bio-hacking to automation to nanotechnology. Located at the Design Museum, each performance allowed participants to engage with the students and initiate conversation and debate around the future of our society’s systems of production.
Each year, students from MA Industrial Design, MA Design by Practice and MA Material Futures at CSM join forces to explore practices and themes which generally sit outside traditional design practices. For this year’s CIP programme, students were asked to identify an extreme desire and design, in groups, a manifestation of this desire. Over the course of CIP they were encouraged to take risks, work in close collaboration with each other and explore themes which they would otherwise not consider within their own work. The programme culminated in an exhibition where projects exploring extreme pimple popping, Black Friday training sessions and tickling as a method of torture and pleasure were shown.
Milan Design Week
ArtEZ Institute of the Arts
Each year we invite our students to exhibit at the internationally renowned Milan Design Week. This year was no exception. We exhibited at the creative hub BASE Milano in Zona Tortona, home to Ventura Future’s 83 exhibitors. Celebrating a decade of Ventura Projects in Milan, the week brought together forwardthinking projects, young talents, socially engaged design and a curious design audience that embraced the ideas of the future. The event welcomed 26,000 unique visitors across the week. Looking outside of existing structures, preconceptions and conventions, our exhibition explored when craft, science and technology collide by showcasing the very latest of our students’ design research and visions for a more sustainable and radically different future.
Here at Material Futures we have always admired the students and staff at the Product Design department at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem, The Netherlands, and we are therefore particularly excited that Kieren will join them as External Examiner. Led by experimental designer and educator Judith Van De Boom, the department has an international reputation for some of the most innovative, experimental and propositional work to come out of the Netherlands... we look forward to seeing and learning more!
Swarovski + Material Futures
Welcome Expedition 2018 We believe in making and connecting with the environment, which is why, on a cold October morning, we left London for the wild hills of Cherry Wood, South Gloucestershire. Over a two-day expedition we introduced students to ancient methods of survival, from (very) primitive shelter making to foraging and quite literally catching their own food.
As part of a new partnership between the Jewellery, Textile and Materials Programme here at Central Saint Martins, Material Futures + Swarovski collaborated on a student project that explored how the future of light could lead to innovation and future sustainability. In addition to developing the project with us, Swarovski also sponsored a series of Programme-wide lectures that introduced some of the most exciting practitioners across the world of sustainable design to give us an insight into their work and also stimulate debate about what responsible ‘conscious’ design should look like.
Collaborating with Nature at The Van Eyck At the invitation of the Hicham Khalidi, Director, and Yasmine Ostendorf, Director of the Lab for Nature Research Centre, Kieren Jones will become the Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at the Jan Van Eyck Institute in The Netherlands. The Van Eyck is a postacademic institute for artistic talent development with an international outlook, located in the heart of Maastricht. The core values that the Van Eyck aspires to are meeting, connecting, cooperation, engagement and process. These concepts intersect with and reinforce one another, and together form the Van Eyck’s identity. With the aim of developing both a creative union between the two institutions as well as to develop and implement a future material library and resource centre that artists and designers can access, Kieren hopes to help develop both a future space for practitioners to meaningfully collaborate with nature as well as a more holistic and sustainable artistic practice in the context of the Anthropocene. Image: Etienne C.L. van Sloun
News Baume + Material Futures Hello Fiona Raby
Goodbye Julia Lohmann It is with great regret that we are to say farewell to Julia Lohmann as our External Examiner. Every four years we invite a fellow educator who we feel shares a similar vision for the future and who can help maintain our high standards and academic excellence to provide advice and oversight of the course. Needless to say that Julia has far exceeded our already high expectations of her and whilst no longer an official fixture here at Central Saint Martins, we anticipate future creative collaborations with both herself, as well as her new students and staff team at Aalto University in Finland where she has recently been appointed as Professor of Practice on the MA Contemporary Design Programme.
Messums Wiltshire Talk: Can Creativity, Productivity and Sustainability Overlap in Textiles? Set inside a 13th century barn, Messums Wiltshire is a leading multi-purpose gallery and arts centre which offers a unique environment to both artists and collectors. Through its beautiful surroundings and unique pieces, it provides the opportunity to reflect on the significance of the handmade across multiple art forms. At the core of its curriculum Messums Wiltshire hosts talks and workshops which revolve around current and relevant topics in the art and design world. As part of their Material Textile ‘Common Threads’ weekend, Material Futures were invited to discuss one of the most pressing issues of today: sustainability. The talk was hosted by Edwina Ehrman, Senior Exhibition Curator at the V&A, and included panelists Galahad Clark, Founder of Vivobarefoot, and Martina Spetlova, a Fashion Designer specialising in sustainability and ethical material sourcing.
Game Over Conference The Centro Botin of Santander [Spain] annually hosts a journalism conference which brings together over a hundred journalists with the intention of discussing and exposing current cultural themes. For this year’s conference, various speakers were asked to explore the current state of video games and their impact on society. As one of the speakers, Material Future’s Year Leader, Marta Giralt, presented her graduation project Virtual X which explores the future of the porn industry in the context of virtual reality. Through her project, Marta exposes a future in which users can access extreme and illegal sexual practices through virtual reality and questions the lack of regulation around these types of experiences.
We are delighted to announce that Fiona Raby will be joining the team as our new External Examiner. Fiona really doesn’t need much introduction; designer, educator and recently appointed Professor and Research Fellow of the Graduate Institute for Design Ethnography and Social Thought at The New School in Parsons she aims to question, debate and propose radically new visions for the future as well as examine the ethical, social and cultural implications of new and emerging technologies might affect us tomorrow. We very much look forward to working with Fiona over the next 4 years and learning from her insights.
Baume designs watches for a ‘better tomorrow’. Identifying itself as truly genderless with an emphasis on using recycled, sustainable and ethical materials, the brand uses no animal-based materials and no precious metals, minerals or gems mined from the Earth. A perfect partner to collaborate with Material Futures? We thought so. Which is why we recently worked with them on a project to help develop their commitment and responsibility to the planet and further their vision for a more ethical and sustainable future. For more information on Material Futures x Baume, visit www.baumewatches.com
Welcome Nancy Diniz Hello and Goodbye Shawn Jordan! We are pleased to have had Shawn Jordan, Associate Professor of Engineering at Arizona State University, spend time with us during his sabbatical. Not only did he share his expertise and host an Arduino and physical computing workshop for our students, he is also regularly in touch with the extra-terrestrial... We will miss his amazing energy and enthusiasm for MA Material Futures.
Material Futures has a new partner in crime... Nancy Diniz who has recently been appointed as the new Course Leader for MA Biodesign which joins us from September in the Jewellery, Textiles and Materials Programme. With a brand-new grow-lab under construction at Central Saint Martins, expect even more slime, hacking of organisms and growth of the weird and wonderful! We are extremely excited to get to know both the new staff team and students and hope to collaborate with them in the future.
Exploring Sustainable Design Strategies with Professor Carole Collet Professor Carole Collet, LVMH Director of Sustainable Innovation, Director of the Design and Living Systems Lab and Professor in Design for Sustainable Futures at CSM, always finds the time to help our students navigate and understand the complex world that Bio-design, Synthetic Biology and grown materials has opened, as well as share her knowledge of design for sustainable futures. Through her Sustainable Design Strategies Workshop, Carole pushed the students to expand their eco-literacy, explore tools for change, review a range of sustainable design strategies and develop a personal sustainable manifesto so they can work towards a better, more sustainable future.
FROM ALL OF THE TEAM HERE AT MATERIAL FUTURES, WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK EVERYONE IN 2018/19 WHO HAS CONTRIBUTED AND COLLABORATED WITH THE COURSE TO SUPPORT THIS YEARS’ GRADUATING STUDENTS:
Agi Haines Andrew Friend Attua Aparicio Torinos Baume Bernard Hay Black Females in Architecture Carole Collet Cherry Wood Project Claire Bergkamp Constantine Sandis Ellen MacArthur Emile De Visscher Fiona Raby Greg Ross Guy Barton Hannah Cheesbrough Ionat Zurr James Shaw Jenny Lee John McGeehan Julia Lohmann Kate Goldsworthy Katie-May Boyd Kendall Robbins Laura Gordon 10
Liz Corbin Liz Wright Margaret Wagstaff Marguerite Humeau Matt Malpass Michael Burton Mick Petts Nadia Swarovski Nick Gant Noémie Soula Oron Catts Philippa Wagner Sanne Visser Saúl Baeza Simon Fraser Sinead But Stella McCartney Stephen Hayward Swarovski Teresa van Dongen Tina Gorjanc Tom Mannion
A SPACE TO COLLABORATE AND RESEARCH Our aim is to actively re-think the future, encouraging a wholly multi-disciplinary approach to design in which research is at the heart of the design process. We believe that it is only by through close observation and analysis of how we live today that we can even begin to shape a better, more sustainable tomorrow. We teach our students to question the world around them. Material Futures works with a whole host of academics, designers, scientists, activists, researchers and practitioners – all experts in their particular fields. We believe in the value of knowledge, of research, of cross-collaboration and of hands-on making. That is why in the context of a politically unstable climate we have invited a mix of external experts and student activists to highlight the critical issues that they believe are shaping the design discipline. We hope that these essays will give you an insight into the sort of questions and issues our students are grappling with in their own projects as well as external voices that should be listened to. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our authors:
28–33 → WHO TRULY MAKES DECISIONS ABOUT OUR HEALTH?
Dr Stephen Hayward 50–55 → WHY MATERIALITY MATTERS
72–77 → SOCIO-TECHNOLOGY: REALISING THE SOCIAL POTENTIAL OF EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
94–99 → DECARBONISATION AND DECOLONISATION: LIBERATION?
116–121 → WHERE DOES CRAFT SIT WITHIN A WORLD SATURATED WITH STUFF? 11
An egg without a chicken â†“ In a plant-based food future, how important is the form of traditional animal products? Do we strive for flavour, efficiency or form?
An egg cannot be reduced to a shell, white and yolk. HERVĂ‰, T. . BUILDING A MEAL: FROM MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY TO CULINARY CONSTRUCTIVISM. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS.
The humble chicken egg is a popular source of cheap protein: in the UK alone, we eat 36 million eggs a day. The egg is typically considered to be a simple, natural food. However, the industrial farming practices used to meet our appetite for eggs are far from natural. In the face of climate change, we need to move away from intensive animal agriculture and explore alternative sources of protein. There is currently a growing interest in veganism, and demand for plant-based alternatives is at an all-time high. Whilst egg alternatives already exist [either plant-based or grown synthetically in a laboratory], they neglect the essence of what an egg is. This project aimed to make an egg without a chicken. The parameters were: to stay true to its natural form [with a separate yolk and white], to have a shell that cracks, to maintain a similar nutritional value, to taste like an egg, and to include no chickens [or other animals] in the making. Throughout the experimentations it became clear that alternatives are not automatically better. Substitutes come with their own environmental impact and compromises in flavour, efficiency and form. Nevertheless, the project also questions how we might improve the egg whilst not being limited by the biological capability of a hen.
The hen has become a dispensable egg-making machineâ€Ś In modern societies these birds have become de-natured, de-personalised and even de-animalised. POTTS, A. . CHICKEN. LONDON: REAKTION BOOKS. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Steve Howse, [ex] Egg-laying Chicken Farmer Arturo Elizondo, CEO, Clara Foods
Abi Glencross, Scientist, Farmer and Cook
BRENDA DE RITIS
Enough! â†“ Exaggerating the intensity of what we eat in order to help hyper feeders consume less
BRENDA DE RITIS
It is human nature to eat when presented with food, and to eat more when presented with more food. MARION NESTLE, FOOD SCIENTIST, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY .
We live in a world where highly palatable foods have become readily available and relatively inexpensive. We are therefore pushed to consume more food, more often, every day. In 2013, the British Heart Foundation published a report called Portion Distortion on how portion sizes in Britain have inflated since 1993. Five years later, Public Health England warned that ‘Britain needs to go on a diet’. Overeating, even short-term overeating, has serious effects on us and on the planet. Therefore, in order to prevent these urgent health and environmental impacts, we need to find a way to reduce the daily food intake of hyper feeders. A perfect balance of sensorial stimulations that our brain memorises as pleasant, performance enhancing and rewarding is at the very crux of what makes food irresistible. However, by augmenting our sensorial perception while we eat, the flavour profile of the food can be intensified beyond what is normally palatable, and consequently our willingness to keep eating is reduced. This project aims to propose an alternative way of tackling overeating by equipping hyper feeders with smell enhancers, sound amplifiers, body heat increasers and sight hackers. It is based on the principle that increasing the intensity of our eating experiences can really help the brain say a crucial ‘Enough!’. The way we eat is killing us and the planet. FELICITY LAWRENCE, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR . The sensory experience of eating is an important determinant of food intake control. MCCRICKERD, K. AND FORDE, C. . SENSORY INFLUENCES ON FOOD INTAKE CONTROL: MOVING BEYOND PALATABILITY. OBESITY REVIEWS, 17 , PP.18-29. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Linda Münger, Food Scientist and Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zurich Enrico Claudio Pascucci, Doctor of Medicine, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Gabriele D’Annunzio University
Stefano Piazza, Biomedical Engineer and Researcher, Department of Engineering, Politecnico di Milano and Monzino Cardiology Center
BRENDA DE RITIS
CHIARA TOMMENCIONI PISAPIA
Made by moths â†“ Investigating the potential of clothes moths as creative collaborators
CHIARA TOMMENCIONI PISAPIA
For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. ISAIAH. 51:8, OLD TESTAMENT.
The textiles industry is currently extremely wasteful and is polluting the environment. The textile industry adopts an extractive linear system of take – make – waste. Within this system, mixed fibre textile waste is especially problematic to recycle and is often down-cycled or sent to landfills or incinerators [1}. This project investigates the potential of clothes moths and their digestive enzymes as collaborators in selecting and breaking down keratin-based fibres to create poetic artefacts. Not only does this utilise waste that would otherwise be too problematic to recycle or separate, but also demonstrates the amazing qualities that the common moth possesses. By creating a fully functioning moth farm, I can insert mixed recycled textiles for the moths to separate on my behalf. Collecting their natural dust-like bio waste also means that I can craft artefacts that will naturally biodegrade and rather than pollute the environment will nurture it.
[1} OSTLUND, A. ET AL. . RE:MIX - SEPARATION AND RECYCLING OF TEXTILE WASTE FIBRE BLENDS. Clothes moths have been causing problems for thousands of years… the main reason for their pest status lies in their unusual ability to digest keratin. COX, P. AND PINNIGER, D. . BIOLOGY, BEHAVIOUR AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE CONTROL OF TINEOLA BISSELLIELLA [HUMMEL] [LEPIDOPTERA: TINEIDAE]. JOURNAL OF STORED PRODUCTS RESEARCH, 43 , PP. 2-32. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Simon McQueen-Mason, Professor, CNAP Director and Chair in Materials Biology, Department of Biology, University of York Dr Federico Sabbadin, Department of Biology, University of York Colin Plant, Consultant Entomologist, Colin Plant Associates Mark Parsons, Head of Moth Conservation, Butterfly Conservation CREDITS
Maël Hénaff, Photographer
Hidden beauty â†“ A new material created by utilising and harnessing the waste from the slaughter industry
Most of a slaughtered farm animal cannot be transformed into edible flesh. About 60% of it - offal, bones, tendons, blood, and plasma - becomes abattoir waste. MCWILLIAMS, J. . THE DEADSTOCK DILEMMA: OUR TOXIC MEAT WASTE.
Each year more than 60 billion animals are slaughtered globally - one billion in Britain alone. Therefore, animal remains present a constant and significant waste stream. Abattoir waste consists of blood, bone, fat, skin, hair, animal trimmings and urine, all of which can be hugely problematic to the environment by overwhelming natural eco-systems on our land, in our rivers and in our oceans. The mountain of animal waste we create daily is culturally associated with dirt: it must be cleaned, destroyed or disguised. Consequently, and due to the increasing costs of removal, slaughterhouses often dispose of their waste through the sewers, landfills or on farmland. However, even when this waste is incinerated, it releases dangerous heavy metals into the atmosphere [sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides], all toxins that are extremely detrimental to our air quality and human health. Through the crafting of everyday functional objects, my project aims to not only practically reduce the mountain of waste we generate every day, but also help to change our perception of it, both as a valuable commodity but also culturally as something that doesn’t need to be discarded.
Abattoirs often have difficulties in disposing, treating and processing of these wastes in an environmentally acceptable fashion. BANDAW, T. AND HERAGO, T. . REVIEW ON ABATTOIR WASTE MANAGEMENT. GLOBAL VETERINARIA, 19 . It’s at least to say odd that we don’t treat these pigs as absolute kings and queens. MEINDERTSMA, C. . HOW PIG PARTS MAKE THE WORLD TURN [PRESENTATION]. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Pilar Bolumburu, Materials Researcher and Designer, Materiom Anastasia Pistofidou, Researcher and Founder, Fabtextiles CREDITS Smithfield Market, Supplier
Turner & Georges butchers, Film Location and Supplier
Who truly makes decisions about our health?
I moved to London the year Donald Trump became my president. Whether it was a narrow escape or a strategic abandonment, I had left a country that seemed inexorably divided. Family ties and Facebook friendships were bonds too weak to reconcile the politically opposed, and our inability to listen through our contempt for the other had left us in resounding echo chambers. From the outside, the division was even more apparent, cleanly broken along lines of race, ethics, politics, and class. It was a country of post-truth and oppression, where everyone had an enemy, and everyone had a gun.
At the forefront of the political debates were Obamacare and abortion. Had there ever been a time when healthcare and the right to make decisions about our own health and bodies were so apparently rooted in a corrupt political system? Every Republican president since Nixon had changed their abortion views while drumming up mid-campaign votes, clearly showing that the regulation of a woman’s body was not just an ethical debate but a powerful political tool. Of course, divisive platform politics are easier to understand than the intricacies of a carefully planned healthcare bill, and with attention spans dwindling, how could anyone be expected to truly comprehend what we were voting for? At the height of the
Information Age, when we were supposed to have the power to make informed decisions, our social media feeds had become overrun by fake news and personality tests designed to entrap and exploit the masses. As a new Material Futures student, I wondered what our role as designers might be in challenging the polarised perceptions around the future of healthcare and reproductive rights. It was clear that division was a barrier to progress, but how could everyday people stay informed about the complexities of a changing healthcare landscape and question who truly makes decisions about the things that impact us most?
reality, can allow us to dig deeper to find common ground and a space to listen to and understand each other. Designers have always played a role in shaping the future and it is our challenge now to inform, to encourage conversation, and to help design a future that is as rich and complex as the many views it will be comprised of. Contempt, fear, and division are fuel for authoritarianism and technocracy, and only when we remove the barriers that divide us will we regain the power to make decisions about the things that impact us most.
As designers, we face a mounting challenge to engage the public in informed conversations on topics that feel difficult to interact with beyond surface level. These conversations are crucial in developing thoughtful regulation and policies around emerging technologies and existing social structures. They allow us to pause and assess the unintended consequences, the big questions about what it means to be human and to shape and irreversibly change the natural world. Healthcare, at its core, is a basic right that many Americans still don’t have access to, but it’s also become about ending ageing, enhancing humans, and growing babies outside of our bodies. CRISPR cas9, a relatively easy gene editing technique, has reignited fears of designer babies and playing god. This stuff is real, it’s happening. As the rate of innovation increases, we cannot afford to look back, as Mark Zuckerberg did in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and say we made a mistake because we were too busy innovating to consider the impact. Without the pressure of political parties, of big money, big pharma and tenure track dreams, designers are perfectly positioned to pose these critical questions and for the world to respond.
Instead of designing for a black and white debate, it is imperative that we explore the many complex aspects of science, technology, and health in a way that is intersectional and not polarising, nuanced and not definitive. Critical design and fiction can be powerful tools for making our future visions more relatable, for placing them within our current social constructs and for investigating issues of access, intention, and unintended consequences. Science fiction is often the incubator for technologies we later realise, and books and films reflect on the public perceptions of emerging technologies and their potential to shape humanity. Consider the artificial womb, which featured in the Matrix long before The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia began growing premature lambs in biobags in 2017. The film Gattaca recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary, just as CRISPR cas9 revived the debate about genetically engineered humans. However, instead of relying on predictably dystopic visions of the future that often lead to misunderstanding and fear, design fiction allows us to explore relatable scenarios and evoke the kind of informed conversations that help to create positive change. As the technologies we develop become increasingly complex, we risk losing critical public discourse to the shallow narratives of fear and dystopia, to division and echo chambers. Design fiction, grounded in
Women’s March in Washington DC protesting against Trump’s election and his statements about reproductive rights [Source - Reuters photo by Shannon Stapleton]
25 white male Senators voted to ban abortion in Alabama in 2019 [Source - CTV News]
Companies like Apple and Facebook now offer egg freezing benefits for female employees [Source - Institute for Human Reproduction]
Artificial womb from The Matrix
Premature lamb grown in artificial womb biobag at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in April 2017
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World explored a utopian world of controlled reproduction and ignorant bliss
In the film Gattaca, a newbornâ€™s future is determined by his genetic profile
Make Weeds Great Again â†“ Creating a locally sourced, sustainable alternative to coffee using the roots of the common dandelion in order to promote biodiversity in the UK
The common dandelion is among the most detested weeds in Britain, portrayed as an undesirable, unsightly weed that spoils the nation’s lawns. However, it should be a highly valued plant as it provides the main food source for pollinating insects in early spring and creates a nutrient rich fertiliser for surrounding plants. It is also a source of natural latex, its dried, powdered roots and leaves can purify water, and the roots can be used as a coffee substitute. In the UK we consume around 95 million cups of coffee daily. With this demand comes unseen environmental and social impacts in the developing world, where 80% of all coffee is produced. To satisfy Western demand, sun-grown monocultures, pesticide use and artificial fertilisers have become standard practice. This has a devastating impact on biodiversity. As the world plummets into a 6th mass extinction event, protecting the populations of flora and fauna is of vital importance. In the UK alone, we have seen a 56% decline in species populations since 1970. We need local alternatives to coffee in Britain. By creating a highly traded commodity, Make Weeds Great Again aims to increase the perceived value of the dandelion, arguing for its need to thrive within the natural ecosystem. The hand operated ‘root-to-cup’ system invites users to make their own coffee alternative from dandelion roots - from collecting, processing and roasting through to the more familiar processes of brewing a cup of coffee. This low-tech and local production system has a significantly lower environmental impact compared to imported coffee. As dandelions grow abundantly and everywhere, they can easily be harvested from urban green spaces, while the roasting process requires far less energy.
Humans have attempted to exterminate dandelions with a passion that’s usually reserved for cockroaches and tarantulas. Yet the dandelion remains. SANCHEZ, A. . THE TEETH OF THE LION: THE STORY OF THE BELOVED AND DESPISED DANDELION. VIRGINIA: MCDONALD AND WOODWARD. Cities have a unique opportunity to spark a transformation towards a circular economy for food, given that 80% of all food is expected to be consumed in cities by 2050. ELLEN MCARTHUR FOUNDATION . CITIES AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY FOR FOOD.
MYKROH â†“ MYKROH is a project that enables the transfer of good bacteria from the vagina to babies delivered by caesarean section
We wanted to give our baby the best chance possible of getting all the bacteria that she needed to establish a healthy immune system. JENNIFER EDMOND, MOTHER.
As the baby squeezes out of the vagina during birth, a rich bacterial transfer is created that not only protects the baby from potentially life-threatening pathogens, but also becomes the basis of our personal microbiome which shapes the future of our health. However, due to an increase in caesarean sections, all too often babies miss the opportunity of this natural bacterial transfer. Whilst there is a DIY community that occasionally use vaginal swabs to artificially stimulate these bacteria [called vaginal seeding], it is still not widely accepted in the medical community. Vaginal seeding is becoming a growing subject of interest, and it will only be a matter of time before mothers have the choice to follow this procedure in a safe and accepted environment. MYKROH explores how this transfer can be facilitated in a less obstructive, more natural and more intuitive manner to protect the baby’s later life. Through the creation of a range of medically safe personal products, I want to allow the mother the right to choose her options after the birth and provide a bacterial transfer to her baby if she wishes. Newborns delivered by scheduled caesarean section will go through the bacterial transfer immediately. This transfer will mimic the natural process at a microscopic level and will happen in a two-step process, firstly transferring skin bacteria through a special swaddle top and secondly transferring vaginal fluids [Lactobacilli] through a vaginal pump. It is important to address that we live in an over-medicalised and sterile world and missing the payload of good bacteria at birth creates an imbalance of the microbiome biodiversity which therefore threatens our immune system.
We can speculate a future where seeding will become part of a ritual in every mother’s journal. For me it becomes interesting when science and art collide. A space to communicate through objects, performance and art knowledge. FRANÇOIS-JOSEPH LAPOINTE, BIOLOGIST AND PERFORMER. To me it makes sense to allow the transfer in any way possible to get your baby the best microbiome diversity. CHLOE SPICER, MOTHER. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Jennifer Edmond, Mother
François-Joseph Lapointe, Biologist and Performer
Nurturing kelp â†“ A series of compostable and biodegradable products with fertilising properties for the horticulture industry made from marine waste as an alternative to plastic
Seaweed is the commodity of the future. KAORI O’CONNOR, ANTHROPOLOGIST AND WRITER.
The sea provides us with a plentiful and readily available source of materials to solve our needs for the future. Naturally occurring in cold, coastal marine waters, kelp is abundant on the British Isles. During the summer months, tons of seaweed are cast ashore and left to rot, interfering with recreational use of beaches. Sometimes the seaweed is removed by local authorities, but more often than not, it is left there to rot. This is not only a waste of potential resources, but it is also a health hazard. On this experimental design journey, I attempt to explore the material qualities of kelp as an innovative design material by tapping into themes such as sustainability, biomaterials and designing with waste. Fertilisers are used to promote plant growth and yields and kelp has traditionally been used as an organic fertiliser. Through my experiments I discovered that it could also be liquified and moulded into shapes almost like a bioplastic. Every year in the UK, it is estimated that half a billion plant pots and bedding trays are purchased by gardeners. The majority of these singleuse plastic products are not recycled. It’s absurd that consumers are being sold a green product packaged in a perverse material that is polluting and harmful for the environment. I’ve created a series of horticultural bedding trays and pots for the horticulture industry from marine waste as an alternative material to plastic which would in one way or another end up polluting our oceans. These pots and trays are functional and can also be planted directly into the ground to fertilise the soil creating zero waste. The profitability of the modern horticulture industry was founded on the introduction of plastic plant containers. We may have beautiful gardens but the plastics are polluting land and seas. KATHERINE WOODS, GARDENER. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Kaori O’Connor, Anthropologist and Author, University College London Juliet Brodie, Research Leader Phycology, Natural History Museum Michael McCloskey and Helga Nerad, Seaweed Harvesters and Producers, Donegal Bay Seaveg
Aranza Embriz, Designer and Entrepreneur
Bio iridescent sequin â†“ Can nature offer possibilities for sustainable shimmering sequins?
We arrived at a place where doing things in a conventional way is outdated and unsustainable. Stella McCartney, Copenhagen Fashion Summit, May 2018.
A wave of innovation has picked up the fashion industry out of its old foundations. Biological elements are being engineered in the search for more sustainable materials. It is the optimal moment to rethink the origin of materials that are currently petroleum derived. This project harnesses bio technologies to create colourful shimmering sequins from naturally abundant cellulose, a material with the added benefit of being lightweight, strong and compostable. By redesigning a sequin from the base structure up, I have been able to rethink the production process by forming them in moulds to eliminate waste. Working alongside Material Scientists Hjalmar Granberg and Tiffany Abitbol from the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, we created shimmering iridescent colours embedded within the material structure of cellulose. In this way, it is possible for the future bio iridescent sequin to shimmer naturally without added chemicals. It is an entirely new way to approach finishes and colour within the fashion and textiles industry.
Biobased materials will disrupt our thinking and experience of life, and can drive a more sustainable future. HJALMAR GRANBERG, SCIENTIFIC LEADER WITHIN BIOBASED ELECTRONICS, RISE RESEARCH INSTITUTES OF SWEDEN [INTERVIEW IN 2019]. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Tiffany Abitbol, Senior Researcher, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden Hjalmar Granberg, Scientific Leader within Biobased Electronics, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden MENTOR Claire Bergkamp, Worldwide Sustainability & Innovation Director, Stella McCartney SPECIAL THANKS TO INTERVIEWEES Gary Baptist, Josy Rose Sumangali Gada, Director, Adity Designs Lekha Malviya, Owner, SRL Creations Patrick McDowell, Sustainability Design-led Fashion Designer
Axelle Faes-Cortes, Senior Artisanal Embroiderer
Why materiality matters
As is the case for many, I suspect, my awareness of materials is intermittent and paradoxical. An abundance of so-called ‘natural resources’, like coal, or oil would seem to be a ‘good thing’. In Norway or Australia, relatively small populations find themselves disproportionally rich; they can look forward to comparatively well-funded public services and pensions. But then, one recalls the situation in post-colonial Africa, or post-Soviet Russia, where diamonds, oil and gas, and the easy foreign currency they bring, are the occasion for conflict and corruption. Then there is the ambiguity of materials when processed into manufactures. In consumer societies, the stuff from which an artefact is made can be highly visible; when it is newly introduced, highperformance, or ‘smart’, but more usually it is secondary to the semiotics of the product, the custom of pink for girls and blue for boys etc., or the story-telling capacity of a brand. An exception is anything that references the handicrafts, where the surface qualities tend to be fetishised, and it is not unusual to find cheap materials masquerading as something higher class. Such emulation points to a system in which rarity and exoticism are prized above the everyday, though, to add to the confusion, a lowly material may be highly valued if it is seen as wholesome, natural, or pure. Thus the system of material values can resemble an esoteric game, as in the language of wedding anniversaries, where, in the English-speaking world, the pecking-order runs from paper [first anniversary], and leather [third], to ruby [fortieth], and gold [fiftieth], or the convention that decrees that organic foods should be sold in brown paper bags to signal their authenticity. The implication, of course, is that a mere plastic bag would sully the transaction, and this most ubiquitous of materials adds a final twist to the tale. In theory, plastic is an extremely efficient and durable material, but these very capabilities have turned a wonder material of the twentieth century into public enemy number one. At root there has been a cognitive dissonance between what plastic can do, and how it has been applied; so that at the time of writing the most widely-reported fact about plastic is that eight million pieces enter the ocean as pollution, every day.
The footage of seabirds, dolphins and fish etc. choking on plastic, now provides some of the most compelling representations of waste. And as a meme it prompts comparison with earlier icons of the environmental movement, like the images of planet Earth, shown as the vulnerable biosphere, viewed from the window of Apollo 8 . Fifty years later, the spectacle of fish feeding on pellets pitches the message at a more visceral level; i.e. the fear of being poisoned by plastic as it enters the human food chain, while the overall tenor of the discourse has become increasingly aligned with the logic of a consumer society. Sustainability has become a matter of making the appropriate choices; to reuse, rather than to throwaway, to take public transport, rather than the car, and to see a healthy environment as part of an integrated package, involving access to education, a job, medical care and wellbeing. These are just a few of the official [EU] quality of life indicators and they beg the question, where is the moral compass? One answer, which gives a central role to materials as relics, is the concept of the Anthropocene. If it really is the case that mankind has entered an epoch of his own making, then the ultimate judge of this artificial age will be some hypothetical archaeologist of the future. Our civilisation could be remembered for having bequeathed a toxic rubbish dump, or something closer to ancient Pompeii. But how should we proceed? At this juncture it is helpful to reference the work of MA Material Futures; not in terms of specific projects, but a general direction of travel. The roadmap is defined by at least three major imperatives. The first two follow-on from my previous remarks and constitute what might be called a conventional, problem-solving understanding of design: 1.
To do more with less, and
To minimise waste.
In practice this means the development of even smarter materials and the introduction of waste streams that actually work; i.e. systems which are as close as possible to the point of production and consumption, and being circular, do not result in rubbish dumps
at the bottom of the sea. Both principles assume that the planet is a closed system as in the metaphor of global warming - and that so-called natural resources are part of a common, supranational inheritance; an idea that combines the concept of ‘natural capitalism’, i.e. taking monetary account of currently unmeasured, ecological costs, with the ethical awareness of the Anthropocene.
‘Did you never see a bicycle leaning against the dresser of a warm kitchen when it is pouring outside?’ FLANN O’BRIEN, THE THIRD POLICEMAN.
The third proposition is less orthodox and may even question the purposefulness of ‘conventional’ design. 3.
To speculate on alternative ‘materialities’.
At its most cautious this is an extension of propositions 1 and 2, especially when it involves the search for the unrecognised potential of a material, or a sustainable alternative. But then there is the more ontological aspect, where the very meaning of a material, its ‘materiality’, is called into question. Why do we divide the world into the natural and the artificial; might nature be likened to a factory, and at what stage do things acquire a soul, like the 100-year old tsukumogami objects in Japan? And how are such phenomena being reshaped by digital manufacture [e.g. 3D printing], artificial intelligence and machine learning, globalisation, and an increasingly screenbased existence? Could we live without materiality, or does human biology demand the reassurance - and stimulus - that comes from substances that can be touched, tasted, heard and smelt? This third strand becomes most compelling, and helpful - to me, at least - when it crystallises the enigma of materials. I began with the paradox of conflict diamonds and a wonder-material - plastic - that has turned bad. The Anthropocene is an invitation to take stock, to expect more from less, but also to decide what is actually needed. This is why it is important to speculate.
APOLLO 8: EARTHRISE. NASA.
Crafting industry â†“ Re-imagining everyday electronics and our relationship with stuff
Cheap consumer goods are most commonly created using plastic grade 7. This essentially means ‘any other plastics’ and is composed of any new plastics or different types of plastics which cannot be widely recycled or repurposed. Given the millions of tonnes of E-waste that gets either burnt or sent to landfill each year, it is critical we find more sustainable alternatives to this specific plastic type. As a designer with a traditional craft background, I’m exploring how traditional materials and craft can not only enrich our emotional connection to such goods, but also be far more sustainable. I have redesigned everyday electronics and replaced their plastic components, I have also designed them to be easily disassembled when they need repairing or upgrading, ensuring that they can be used for a long time, age beautifully and have their own story. A disposable mentality threatens our proud history as manufactures: who we are as designers, as builders and as craftsmen. STELLA MCCARTNEY, COPENHAGEN FASHION SUMMIT, MAY 2018. Crafts remind us of maker and material, they bring to our mind both the natural origins and the cultural traditions from which a thing has been created. BROWN, S. AND KUMAR MITCHELL, M. . THE BEAUTY OF CRAFT: A RESURGENCE ANTHOLOGY. GREEN BOOKS. We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects. It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them. THE SUNDAY TIMES . JONATHAN IVE: THE MAN BEHIND APPLE. Craft is a powerful way of connecting us physically: to materials, to our bodies, to our minds, to our senses. MACDONALD, H. . A NEW BIENNIAL AT YORKSHIRE’S HAREWOOD HOUSE ASKS WHY DOES CRAFT MATTER? EXPERT AND COLLABORATORS Clover Lee, Ceramicist Saena Ku, Woodcarver Huseyin Mahmut, Electrician CREDITS
Mike Biddle, Photographer
Objects 4 a digital man â†“ Analysing the role of objects in an immaterial future
Far too many high-technology creations have moved from real physical controls and products to ones that reside on computer screens. NORMAN, D. A. . EMOTIONAL DESIGN: WHY WE LOVE [OR HATE] EVERYDAY THINGS. NEW YORK: BASIC BOOKS.
Our evolution towards a digital world is one of dematerialisation of all parts of our life. Richard Terrile, Director of the Centre for Evolutionary Computation and Automated Design at NASAâ€™s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, argues that our life could already be a simulation created by a superior programmer, and soon we will have the computational power to simulate entire lives. One of the possible implications of these hypotheses is that, in the future, our material world could be sacrificed on the altar of evolution. When everything is simulated, how can we know that we ourselves are real? How can we sense our existence? This project consists of a group of six mysterious unrecognisable artefacts that attempt to respond to these questions by replicating the physical sensations associated with ordinary objects. It is a tool for understanding our present and complex relationship between things in order to speculate on our future. The artefacts also represent the fictional narrative of a man who rediscovers his existence through tactile memories. The physical objects function as an anchor to our reality, reflecting our own very existence, and in an eventual immaterial future this will arguably be their main purpose.
[NASA] supercomputers, inside of a decade, will have the ability to compute an entire human lifetime of 80 years - including every thought ever conceived during that lifetime - in the span of a month. MAKUCH, B. . WHOA, DUDE, ARE WE INSIDE A COMPUTER RIGHT NOW? [In critical design objects] relational ambiguity is used, leading the user to consider new beliefs and values, and ultimately question his or her own attitudes. MALPASS, M. . BETWEEN WIT AND REASON: DEFINING ASSOCIATIVE, SPECULATIVE, AND CRITICAL DESIGN IN PRACTICE. DESIGN AND CULTURE, 5 , PP. 333-356. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Dr Lisa Beaven, Lecturer in Art History, La Trobe University Bundoora, Melbourne
Ephemeral â†“ A fully bio-degradeable cellulose straw in the context of a plastic crisis
In a recent bid to try and curb our appetite for the 4.7 billion plastic straws that we use annually in England, the UK Government has set out a plan to ban the distribution and sale of them altogether by 2020. These plastic straws are clearly catastrophic for our worldâ€™s eco-systems and for something designed to be used for mere minutes take thousands of years to degrade. This project aims to explore how cellulose, extracted from sustainably managed forests, could be used as a viable natural material to replace our dependence on plastics. Natural, sustainable and food safe, I hope to not only demonstrate the potential of cellulose but have also created a custom straw making machine that will allow me to manufacture my very own disposable, biodegradable cellulose straws.
It is estimated there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the worldâ€™s oceans and every year 1 million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. A recent report estimates that plastic in the sea is set to treble by 2025. GOVERNMENT OFFICE FOR SCIENCE. . FUTURE OF THE SEA: FINAL REPORT. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Otto Soidinsalo, Technical Application Manager, Borregaard Nina Riutta, Research Assistant, School of Chemical Engineering, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems, Aalto University
Re-value ↓ Re-evaluating agricultural resources
We live in a world where there is an emphasis on overproduction and mass consumption. Taking from Earth’s finite resources has become natural to us and the distorted value we put on materials is derived from this system. We go for the cheapest option and all too often waste a large part of the materials we purchase and consume. Milk is a concrete example of how the production cost has become higher than the selling price. Today, because of the drop in prices controlled by supermarkets and the government, many dairy farmers face two options: opt out or join the conveyor belt of factory farming. The small-scale farm is really a vague idea, slowly becoming a thing of the past. In response to this, this project transforms milk into a plastic material to subvert children’s traditional miniature figure toys, in this case the traditional farm set has been converted into a highly industrialised scenario. The aim is to highlight the importance of re-evaluating the people and the animals that keep food production going and reconnecting with the value of the farming system.
Six processors control 93 per cent of the UK’s dairy processing [including Dairy Crest and Nestle]; and five supermarkets control 80 per cent of the UK’s retail trade in food [Tesco, ASDA, Sainsburys, Morrisons and the Co-op]. TUDGE, C. . SIX STEPS BACK TO THE LAND. CAMBRIDGE: GREEN BOOKS, PP. 61. Overall, for every dollar spent on food, society pays two dollars in health, environmental, and economic costs. ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION . CITIES AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY FOR FOOD. “Richard Scarry” rule of politics: most politicians hate to confront any profession or industry that routinely appears in children’s books. THE ECONOMIST . PAYING FEALTY TO FARMERS. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Kerry Turner, Farmer, Tyriet Farm Simon Fairlie, Dairy Farmer, Monkton Wyld Court
Stacey Dix, Toy Designer
One of the most direct and profound interactions between ecology and economy occurs in the realm of agriculture. MIKULAK, M. . POLITICS OF THE PANTRY. MONTREAL: MQUP.
Emerging technologies promise to empower communities, enhance human capacities, improve working conditions, and prevent or annihilate inequalities in the workplace. But, in communities where automation has been implemented, technologies have ironically replaced human labour with machines purely for the productivity of the industries themselves.
Socio-technology: realising the social potential of emerging technologies ↓
These technologies are opaquely built by private companies which favour the machine to human labour as they avoid taxes related to workers’ pensions. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and other automated tools are currently not conceived for social benefit and are mystified at a level where we cannot understand their real impact on society.
The future of work is already disrupted by automation. According to a former Google executive ‘AI will replace 40 percent of the jobs in the next 15 years’ . If this future happens within our current socio-economic system, it would mean that almost half of our society will live off wages whilst the other half will live off benefits. We should not take ’live’ as a given considering that it would mostly become a matter of ’surviving’ with only £400 a month. However, some see this race for automation as key to building socio-economic plans. The economist and writer Nick Srnicek would agree that the future economy could serve the social cause, if the purpose of a fully automated system was redirected to initiate the real Universal Basic Income model. This model is a form of social security that guarantees a certain amount of money to every citizen within a given governed population, without having to pass a test or fulfill a work requirement, therefore preventing poverty and social inequalities.
Image: Reuters/Thomas Peter
Following this traction, technologies, in building a post-work society, could also reshape our future self and redefine our relationship to objects. ‘Some scientists and futurists believe that our world might be a simulation, a virtual environment, created by a superior entity. Richie Terrile  affirms that even if we are not living in a simulation now, we will be able to create one of that complexity in a few decades . This opens a scenario of complete dematerialisation where our material world does not exist anymore’.
AI personalises our interactions with our electronic devices making sure that the algorithm knows we prefer Italian rather than Chinese food, for example. Behind this AI is a private industry which collects our data to use and even inform political choices on our behalf. Our freedom is in the ’hands’ of a black box made by developers responding to their employer’s instructions.
GABRIELE LORUSSO, MA MATERIAL FUTURES
Antonio Damasio  explained that we make decisions and evaluate our surroundings by creating mind projections similar to memories, almost as if our future is a projected memory. These ‘future memories’ are based on an evaluation of things that have happened in the past. From experience, we know that stronger memories are developed through multi-sensory meaning and therefore sensory limited objects, like our electronic devices, will potentially narrow our understanding of the world. In this scenario, objects will be stripped of all their function apart from their cultural-existential function  and materiality might be the last anchor to reality for us to understand that we exist and are not ‘virtual’. It is important to engage in this conversation as ‘when everything is moving quickly except us the consequence is a social, cultural, and economical whiplash’ . Technologies have the potential to disrupt our future in many ways. Melvin Kranzberg said ‘technology is neither good, nor bad, nor is neutral’ . Indeed, technologies are tools which can be used for both social good and / or for the benefit of industries. At present we are facing a future where more than half of our jobs are going to be replaced by machines. However, as a techno-optimist, I believe that we can make the best of these tools and we have to collectively repurpose these technologies for social benefit. It is the time to understand and communicate what automated technologies are and how they can positively impact our future society.
Rorbitzski, D. . AI Will Replace 40 Percent of Jobs in 15 Years.
Director of the Centre for Evolutionary Computation and Automated Design, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Makuch, B. . Whoa, Dude, Are We Inside a Computer Right Now?
Ligo, L. L. . The Concept of Function in Twentieth Century Architectural Criticism. US: UMI Research Press. pp. 220.
Joi Ito, Director of MIT Media Lab cited by Keen, A. . How to Fix the Future: Staying Human in the Digital Age. Atlantic Books.
Kranzberg, M. . Technology and History: “Kranzberg’s Laws”. Technology and Culture, 27 , pp. 544-560.
We have the power to refuse this controlling technology and reprocess it to support the many not the few. Designers need to adapt their tools to awake public consciousness, demystify technology before democratising it and marking the end of the zero-sum game; a game where the gains made by the wealthy owners of these systems represent losses to our communities. Material Futures aims to engage with stakeholders already impacted by such technologies so we can collectively discuss what we want our future to look like. We believe that tomorrow’s technologies have to be taken seriously and case studies, scenarios and experimentation have their role to redefine this future.
Image: Reuters/Thomas Peter
Made in Mars â†“ How can we create materials on Mars with an efficient and sustainable manufacturing system?
You can make every plastic available on Earth from resources on Mars. THE MARS SOCIETY . PLASTICS.
We are preparing for that trip to Mars, however we have no clue how to survive there. Mars is very similar to Earth and is our only hope to escape from a disastrous event and save humanity. The problem is, Mars has a hostile environment with a very thin atmosphere, radiation, dust storms and no nourishment for humans to survive. So why even think about going to such a harsh environment? The answer is complicated, but here is the short answer: for humans to remain existent and evolve, we must become a multi-planetary species. Made in Mars will be the beginning of a sustainable manufacturing system where AI will be our backup helpers in case of emergency. Mars astronauts wonâ€™t be able to carry much on the trip due to weight, but they will have a special rover, the MARS-Healer, which is a multi-material rover/3Dprinter that will create tools, heal minor punctures on spacesuits and print emergency shields against minor dust storms. What makes the MARS-Healer so special is it will fix itself by printing its broken parts and will replicate itself so there is no need to ship more from Earth. It will use Marsâ€™ soil as the main material and create polymers from its soil elements.
NASA and other private corporations are committed to sending humans to Mars in the relatively near future. After traveling for about 9 months to reach the Red Planet, those pioneering astronauts will want to get right to work with establishing the colony and exploring the planet. The process of getting settled in looks like it will be expedited, as robots are being developed that will build basic buildings and roads before astronauts arrive. IFL SCIENCE. ROBOTS COULD USE 3D PRINTING TO BUILD MARS BASES BEFORE ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Colin Bruce, Oxford Theoretical Physicist/Author
Irene Schneider, CEO, ISE Ihrenes Space Enterprises
Department for Inclusive Education [DfIE] â†“ Development of the first inclusive sexual education demonstration kit
Too many lesbian, gay, bi and trans students are leaving school having received no information or advice on how to lead healthy and safe relationships. STONEWALL . CONSULTATION ON COMPULSORY RELATIONSHIPS AND SEX EDUCATION.
The Department for Education is introducing compulsory Relationships Education for primary pupils and Relationships and Sex Education [RSE] for secondary pupils from September 2019. The government intend this intervention to improve the current infrastructure and quality of existing RSE. Whilst this strategy is broadly welcomed and long overdue, it unfortunately omits the LGBTQ+ community and associated sexual practices in this teaching. In response, this project has developed the Department for Inclusive Education [DfIE], a design organisation that aims to integrate equality within sexual education with a proposed kit for secondary schools. This proposed curriculum includes materials and resources to facilitate the teaching of topics such as pleasure, gender, identity, consent, body image and all sexual practices. This enables sexual education to be more inclusive and representative of all communities and genders compared to the current heteronormative approach to sexual education.
LGBTQ+ pupils are some of the most vulnerable and under-served pupils in the school system. BUTCHER, R. . LGBT+ ISSUES COULD BE TAUGHT IN SCHOOL SEX EDUCATION FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY. Infertility, gestation, and childbirth have been intensively studied while subjects such as eroticism, sexual lust, and sexual orientation have been grossly neglected. JOHNSON, O. . THE SEXUAL RAINBOW: EXPLORING SEXUAL DIVERSITY. VISION PAPERBACKS / SATIN PUBLICATIONS LTD. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Amelia Jenkinson, Director, Sexplain UK Maggie Stewart, Art and History of Art Teacher, West London Free School Laura Holt, School Health Clinical Lead, West London Free School David Eberhard, Psychiatrist, Danderyd’s Hospital Mia Allonby, Trans Multimedia Artist CREDITS
Pleun Van Dijk, Oriol Arnedo Casas and Maël Hénaff, Photographers
In the spirit of Kamiko â†“ An exploration of the medium of paper through the lens of experimental shoemaking inspired by the story and symbolism of a Japanese paper shirt, Kamiko
The invention of the Japanese paper shirt, or Kamiko as it is known in Japan, has long been lost in the mists of time. Perhaps first made by a Buddhist monk, or a rural farmer, the creation of the Kamiko essentially came as a response to a lack or shortage of textiles. Industrial development and globalisation have made materials and products from across the world readily obtainable, cheaper and more accessible. Naylor and Ball  argue that mass-production has led to greater consumption and as a result ‘a mass devaluing of ever-increasing products manufactured’. This is a craft project which aims to revive the tradition and symbolic message behind the paper shirt as a commentary on how, in a time of environmental crisis, we need our cultural practices to reconnect with the ecological cycles in nature. It presents a series of experimental shoe artefacts celebrating the potential of paper as a versatile and meaningful medium. In Japan, the Kamiko came to represent the ‘transitoriness of life and cycles of nature’  as the paper clothes would gradually disintegrate with time and wear. Through creating the paper shoes, I am encouraging a reflection on the impermanence of things and how, through craft and materiality, we can reconnect with nature.
 NAYLOR, M. AND BALL, R. . FORM FOLLOWS IDEA: AN INTRODUCTION TO DESIGN POETICS. LONDON: BLACK DOG PUBLISHING, PP. 46.  LEITNER, C. . PAPER TEXTILES. A & C BLACK PUBLISHERS LTD, PP.18. The craftsman is today outside of the great process of industrial production […]. But whether inside or outside, directly or indirectly, he influences the shaping of things. ALBERS, A. . SELECTED WRITINGS ON DESIGN. HANOVER, NH: UNIVERSITY PRESS OF NEW ENGLAND. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Lucy Baxandall, Papermaker and Book Artist, Tidekettle Paper CREDITS Aniela Fidler, Photographer
Because the paper clothes simply fell apart after they had been worn a few times, they were seen as a metaphor for the transitoriness of life and the cycles of nature. LEITNER, C. . PAPER TEXTILES. A & C BLACK PUBLISHERS LTD.
Democratising technology ↓ Collaborating with the local community of Jaywick to mine cryptocurrency through tidal energy
Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral. KRANZBERG, M. . TECHNOLOGY AND HISTORY: “KRANZBERG’S LAWS.” TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE, 27 .
In the next 15 years, it is estimated that at least 40% of jobs are going to be replaced by machines. Nowhere is this future more apparent than in Jaywick in the UK where 60% of the population have already either lost their jobs or are out of work, mostly because of the insurgence of automation and machine learning and the inevitable decline of jobs that these technologies have brought about. Given the current lack of understanding and debate surrounding emerging technologies, very little is projected about the impact, both positive and negative, that automation and future technologies will have on our society. Through this project, I collaborated with Jaywick’s local community to create a practical workshop where local people could build fully functioning crypto-miners to allow them a real means of generating a secondary, supplementary income. This call to action aims to not only outline the very real potential of automated technologies but to also stimulate debate as to what we want our collective future to look like, and how we can ensure that future technologies are democratic and support the many and not the few.
There are all kinds of technologies that are being deployed, in the run up to automating away jobs entirely, that attempt to place brackets around the autonomy of the individual worker. ADAM GREENFIELD, AUTHOR . EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Nick Srnicek, Lecturer in Digital Economy, King’s College London Will Stronge, Director and Researcher, Autonomy.work Danny Sloggett, Community Leader, Jaywick Nathalie, Dan, Elli, Robbie and Darren, Jaywick Residents CREDITS Noémie Soula, Photographer Helena Manner, Violinist Pleun Van Dijk, Workshop Assistant
Oriol Arnedo Casas, Workshop Assistant
Decarbonisation and Decolonisation: Liberation? ↓
Many of us, I think, both long to see this happen and are terrified of it, for though this transformation contains the hope of liberation, it also imposes a necessity for great change. BALDWIN, J. (1962). LETTER FROM A REGION IN MY MIND.
Climate breakdown, the mass extinction of species and the collapse of global ecological systems can no longer be framed as threats to be faced by future generations— they are happening now, and fast approaching ‘tipping points’ or thresholds beyond which no human action will be able to moderate, much less control them. Every human action has an ecological consequence. For almost two centuries, the phenomenal energy from fossil fuels has amplified and multiplied these actions; today their consequences range from carbon dioxide destabilising the climate to the toxic hydrocarbons in urban air, damaging human lung tissue and nervous systems. Fossil fuel use is a key aspect of the global earth system crisis, it can only be resolved through total decarbonisation: a transformation in our use of energy and materials, at least as rapid and widespread as any change since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. But it would be as much of a mistake to frame our predicament in an instrumental-rationalist way, as it would be to imagine that technology will save us. Unlike any closed problem in which the parameters can be known, the social-ecological crisis is an open problem, like a territorial dispute or a failing relationship. When attitudes and understanding are shaped by differing beliefs, conflicting interests and unconscious desires, the elements of the crisis cannot be reconciled within a single set of preferences, and no solution can be agreed upon. However, if decarbonisation seems unthinkable, this is not because it is practically impossible but because it is politically unrealistic, and apparently inconceivable within the interlinked systems of patriarchy, imperialism, racism and
Image: Extinction Rebellion
capitalism. As Fritjof Capra has shown, we face nothing less than a crisis of perception. The canon of Western Art and Design has largely sustained the Enlightenment subjectivity of liberal humanism and rational objectivity that underlie competitive individualism. Yet artists and designers today recognise realism as a mode of representation, quite distinct from justified true belief. Although the ‘creative industries’ have recruited talented and questioning people into promoting consumer culture, creativity can do more than innovate within the marketplace — it can challenge conventional thinking, play with ideological and psychological limitations, and push the limits of acceptable discourse. Criticality is the essential counterpart to creativity— partly because critical thinking allows us to refine our understanding of a problem, and so discern between possible solutions, and partly because it combines reflexive and emancipatory tendencies. Pierre Bourdieu has proposed that ‘a truly critical form of thought should begin with a critique of the more or less unconscious economic and social bases of critical thought itself’. For example, a critical articulation of my position would acknowledge that as a white, male academic, I have the privilege of critically engaging with issues as I choose to define them, and the comfort of imagining that my choices do not define me. I might display my criticality by stating that the climate crisis is impacting hardest and soonest on the peoples that did the least to cause it. But although such a statement is both true and necessary, it is not enough: to make the case for a just transition demands acknowledgement that my own privilege and comfort are based on an historical injustice. The idea of academia as an ivory tower comes to mind. A university can be seen as an elevated, refined and concentrated
form of social value, not only operating within the antisocial system of economic neoliberalism, and sustained with wealth derived from fossil fuels, but built on the legacy of the British Empire. Britain accumulated wealth and power by extracting labour and materials from the peoples and ecosystems that it colonised. This systematic production of extreme inequality has prevented colonised peoples from developing freely and left them far less able to adapt to the global heating and ecological collapse being perpetrated by the descendants of their former colonisers. Adding insult to injury, the legacy of historical trauma remains largely unacknowledged or misrecognised by the people who have inherited its benefits. So, though decarbonisation is essential, it’s only part of the task ahead. We must engage with what Nicholas Mirzoeff has termed ‘The Deep Contemporary’ — the intersection of racialism and the earth system crisis. We can do this. By participating in university life, we choose to engage with our situation, to define the key issues and opportunities ahead, and to learn together to shape the world of ideas, materials and actions. Moreover, the University of the Arts London is devoted to the understanding and production of culture, the collective expression of social values over time. Although cultural production does result in tangible artefacts that usually become commodified, its deeper effects include new subjectivities, and new forms of social relation. Following James Baldwin, we might see that what is at stake is not only the possibility of survival, but also the chance to live more freely.
Image: Extinction Rebellion
AW18: the future is plastic ↓ Exploring how we can better utilise the mountains of plastic waste created in today’s fashion mass manufacturing and distribution systems
We are at unique stage of history, never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing for the planet. Never before have we had the power to do something about that. ATTENBOROUGH, D. . OUR BLUE PLANET.
Imagine a future without plastic waste ending up in the oceans or incinerated. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry worldwide but is also an industry where small changes could make a huge impact. We are a consumerist society and I don’t believe that the answer is to stop consuming. My project explores how we can better utilise the mountains of plastic waste created in today’s fashion mass manufacturing and distribution systems. The project’s name refers to the season where the waste itself comes from. By harvesting and working with the waste generated solely from protective plastic clothes bags, collectively a huge waste stream, I hope to divert this material back into the material food chain to create a more socially responsible and more circular economy within the industry.
Cheap, light, and versatile, plastics are the dominant materials of our modern economy. Their production is expected to double over the next two decades. Yet only 14% of all plastic packaging is collected for recycling after use and vast quantities escape into the environment. This not only results in a loss of USD 80 to 120 billion per year, but if the current trend continues, there could be more plastic than fish [by weight] in the ocean by 2050. THE ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION . THE NEW PLASTICS ECONOMY: RETHINKING THE FUTURE OF PLASTICS & CATALYSING ACTION. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Michal Wisniewski, Fashion Designer, Atelier Michu Vicky Pietrasik, Creative PatternCutter, Atelier Vicky Pietrasik Valerie Riabko, Metal Moulding Consultant, Royal College of Art Debbie Stack, Mixed Media Technologist, Royal College of Art Marek Ciurapski, CEO, Colormark CREDITS
Paul Perelka, Photographer
La nostalgie du futur â†“ Can emotions be engineered?
By 2030, depression will be the leading cause of global disability. WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION .
The stress associated with living in urban areas has increased our susceptibility to mental illnesses. As our lives have become more condensed, there has also been a surge in the need to disconnect. In a time-pressed society, where every minute must be accounted and justified, mental and physical wellbeing need to become part of a tight schedule. My ‘brain spa’ explores how we can trigger specific neurotransmitters in our brains to enhance and manipulate our senses. Collaborating with researchers, perfumers, sound and visual artists, I created a sensorial brain spa that can boost the production of Serotonin, one of the main mood elevating neurotransmitters in the brain. The experience is designed to enhance our mood, as well as allow the user to track, through an EEG headset, the effects the experience is having on them in real time. When combined with artificial intelligence, the use of emotional tech tools will enable us to measure, record and alter our brain activity easily and efficiently. This project aims to raise awareness of the real potential of such digital tools, but also question the implications and mass deployment of such technologies in a future that is just around the corner.
Human nature, behaviour, feelings, emotions, thoughts and decisionmaking emerge from neuromodulator, neurotransmitters and hormones that fine tune interaction within complex systems that define organ, tissue and cellular functioning. CARR, R. AND HASS COHEN, N. . ART THERAPY AND CLINICAL NEUROSCIENCE. JESSICA KINGSLEY PUBLISHERS. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Michael P. Moskowitz, Founder, Moodrise Jean-Pierre Bellier, Inspecteur Général de l’Education Nationale Patrice Dana and Sophie Soussan, Founders, Le Studio des Parfums Adam Wilkie-Dove, Sound Artist
SOAPACK â†“ Luxurious sustainable toiletries
Waste could be seen as nothing more than a symptom of a failed relationship. CHAPMAN, J. . EMOTIONALLY DURABLE DESIGN. LONDON: ROUTLEDGE.
Product packaging has always been thrown away, no matter how welldesigned or what material it is made of. In a commercially driven society, in order to save costs, manufacturers wrap everything in plastic which, as we are all aware, now pollutes every single corner of the world. This is especially true in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods [FMCG] industry that is based on disposability and linear models of production. Toiletry products such as shampoo are predominantly mass produced and their packaging incredibly inexpensive to produce. This packaging is not only disposable but also has a very short lifespan, usually just 1-2 months. It is estimated that a single person over a lifetime uses around 800 shampoo bottles, most of which are just thrown away and pollute the environment taking thousands of years to degrade. Through this project, I created a brand which proposes that we use soap as a packaging material for shampoo and other toiletry products. In doing so, I hope to fundamentally re-evaluate what packaging could be as well as help us to reduce our plastic footprint. 1/3 of all waste in landfills is created by personal care products, and our landfills are filling up because 10 million tons of singleuse plastic is finding its way into our oceans every year. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. Packaging design is a piece of cultural anthropology. A consumer can visit a market anywhere in the world, and by examining the packaging design â€“ aesthetics, ergonomics, materials, production, retail setting, etc. â€“ they can learn about the values of the culture and the region. MARIANNE KLIMCHUK. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Yanhao Shi, Soap Artisan & Teacher, School of Continuing Education, Chinese Culture University Luis Spitz, Consultant for the soap industry Zen Meng, Graphic Designer, School of Industrial & Graphic design, Auburn University Joseph Harrington, Casting Technician, Central Saint Martins CREDITS
Xinjia Zhou, Photographer
SEAM UNSEAM â†“ Creating a reversible seam assembly using a biosynthetic protein strip in order to extend a garments wearability, allow for wearer adjustability, and enable garment disassembly
Three times longer use of your clothes means 65% less carbon footprint and 66% less water use. MISTRA FASHION INSTITUTE . FUTURE FASHION MANIFESTO.
As fashion quickly morphs into waste within the fast paced, short lived linear cycle of consumption, SEAM UNSEAM is a design project that investigates garment longevity and sustainability in the world of fast fashion through the use of alternative construction methods inspired by living organisms. The sucker ring teeth of a jumbo squid is comprised of a firm, elastic, naturally occurring biomaterial. Its protein exhibits abilities of strength, recovery, and biocompatibility, and it contains a similar amino acid composition as that of silk proteins, as well as demonstrating the equivalent mechanical property to strong bioengineered polymers. For this project, I have assembled a garment without the use of stitching. Instead the seams are attached and the fabric manipulations are created using a biosynthetic protein strip derived from Squid Ring Teeth [SRT] created using heterologous expression in bacteria and genome sequencing. The strip is attached to the fabric using water, heat and pressure; itâ€™s machine-washable, iron safe, and a 100% recyclable. As the strips hold on, the fabric can be detached and reattached when needed leaving no marks on the fabric. This allows for a quick and easy repair, adjustment or transformation without adding any more material. This method of assembly enables the garment to transform and retransform, creating a more efficient system of disassembly and reassembly. By eliminating stitching and thread, I am also reducing construction time, the over-usage of natural resources and the use of harmful dyes and chemicals. The project also challenges the concept that design must be limited in order to produce responsible or sustainable garments.
Less than 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothing at the end of its life. HOUSE OF COMMONS ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE . FIXING FASHION: CLOTHING CONSUMPTION AND SUSTAINABILITY. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Dr Melik Demirel, Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics, Penn State University Dr Gozde Senel Ayaz, Chief Executive Officer, Tandem Repeat
Azumi Minoda, Creative PatternCutter, Atelier Azumi
Where does craft sit within a world saturated with stuff?
To make things, to respond to materials, and to work with materiality and form is something that humanity has been doing for 2.6 million years when early humans first began to fashion tools. However, since industrialisation, these craft skills and trades have predominantly been replaced with the ‘linear’ systems of mass production. These linear systems promote excessive consumption and the disposability of materials that have catastrophic impacts on the planet, leaving us in an environmental emergency. Craft has since been shunted to the fringes of the art world and become loaded in an ambiguity of purpose. In its place, companies make cheap, homogenised products that are designed for a culture of disposability with no celebration of the material, or the making. As a result of the reduction of craft related occupations, schools across the UK have made significant cuts to art and craft subjects over the past twenty years, resulting in the lowest proportion of students taking related subjects in a decade [Adams, 2017]. In removing craft from the school curriculum, craft is not only devalued, but it also suppresses the inherent creative characteristic of humankind resulting in a disconnected and disassociated relationship with materials and the act of creating.
In its simplest form, craft comprises of two elements: the process of making by hand and doing so with skill. Sir Christopher Frayling, writer and former Rector of the RCA, suggests a number of interpretations of craft according to one’s occupational stance, whether that be a designer, an anthropologist or an economist, highlighting just how enigmatic the term has become. With the aim of promoting supposedly unique and high-quality products, industry has misappropriated the word from its heritage and instead co-opted it as marketing for their products. Synonymous with phrases such as ‘bespoke’ and ‘handmade’, Frayling [2017, p.9] suggests that the term is now used simply to ‘reassure their anxious customer’ drawing similarities to greenwashing. Whilst the term has become ambiguous and is misused by industry, at the core of these interpretations lies an inherent modesty and
IMAGE: NATHALIE SPENCER
humbleness that connects the maker to their chosen material. From the craftsperson’s perspective, developing skill and expertise over time stimulates feelings of achievement, satisfaction and purpose. Making by hand grounds and connects the craftsperson to the object being made, the materials being used, and responds to the need to create. The act of craft requires creativity, imagination and skill. It demands patience and perseverance, temporarily suspending our addiction to the fast-paced society of today and rooting us back to the present moment. In ‘thinking through the hands’ we explore the ‘human experience beyond the visual and the cerebral’ [Tang, 2017], gaining an understanding and knowledge of the physicality and form that surrounds us. Combining the physical act of making with a knowledge of materials enables us to appreciate the final object not only aesthetically, but also the components that are used during the making process. This exploration of the physical sets up a dialogue between the hand and the material which builds a sense of value around the object.
stuff, but to engage in the material consciousness of craft. The crafted object is more than just an outcome of experimentation. It is a celebration; an appreciation; an understanding; the result of a material response and human expression. Craft offers transparency in a system that is otherwise superficial, materialistic and polluting. We need to move beyond purchasing products based on aesthetic and cost and instead transition towards sustainable consumption. Craft catalyses this by encouraging us to buy less disposable stuff in its promotion of material sensibility.
Budds, D. . 6 Designers Explain Why Craft Still Matters in a Digital World, Fast Company, 31 May. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/90127475/6designers-explain-why-craft-stillmatters-in-a-digital-world Frayling, C. . On Craftsmanship: Towards a New Bauhaus. London: Oberon Books Ltd. Lloyd-Jones, T. . What is the Role and Value of Crafts Today? The British Museum, 17 August. Available at: https://blog.britishmuseum.org/what-isthe-role-and-value-of-crafts-today/ Perry, G. . A Refuge for Artists Who Play it Safe, The Guardian, 5 March. Available at: https://www.theguardian. com/artanddesign/2005/mar/05/art
Craft is therefore not solely about the physicality of objects, but also the emotional connection to the materials and a dedication to the making process. By investing in this relationship, the object signifies human expression and exchange and its value therefore becomes more than its monetary worth. By investing in the story behind the object, purchases become more considered and sustainable. In the environmental emergency we find ourselves in, this is exactly what we need. In a world saturated with ‘stuff’, the value of craft therefore represents something more than just a skill and an aesthetically pleasing object. The digitally connected, screen-based society of today has meant that we now long for a connection to something more physical and meaningful. In offering a response to these needs, craft becomes a mediator of connection between the maker, object and consumer. The argument is therefore not to eradicate consumption or dismiss the desire to buy
Image: Nathalie Spencer
Wool: re-crafted â†“ Redesigning the waste leaves of pineapples into a circular system using traditional textiles crafts to offer a vegan and more sustainable alternative to wool
Designing out waste can, in the process, eliminate greedy consumption patterns, prevent untold pollution, lower carbon emissions and enable greater equality locally and globally. BAKER-BROWN, D. . THE RE-USE ATLAS: A DESIGNERâ€™S GUIDE TOWARDS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY.
The textile industry is the second largest polluting industry in the world . Wool production contributes towards this global pollution through methane emissions, chemical pollutants, as well as faecal contamination. Furthermore, the insatiable demand for fast fashion has decreased both the value of clothing and the making process. Consequently, unethical and unsustainable farming practices are promoted, contributing significantly to the environmental crisis of today. Studies show that in order to have any chance of slowing down climate change, society must shift from the use of animal derived products to more sustainable alternatives. Sheep are among the most polluting animals that we consume, therefore we must turn to both more sustainable materials and more sustainable systems. Designing within the biological cycle of the circular economy, the waste of one industry is reconsidered as the input for another and redesigned back into the system. This project presents a vegan alternative to wool by utilising the discarded waste leaves of pineapples from markets and juice bars around London and processing the fibres into a wearable material. By perceiving waste as a design opportunity, an existing by-product is made into a sustainable and biodegradable vegan textile. Through collaboration, the project uses craft as a catalyst to relocate the value of the material and revive the connections within the making process. At the core lies a more sustainable option to wool that is designed within the circular economy. The project aims to address fundamental issues around the sustainability of the fashion industry by turning to the materials around us and the crafts of local people. As a result, in questioning the environmental and ethical concerns of the use of animal products, the project challenges both the way we consume as well as the way we make.  CONCA, F. . MAKING CLIMATE CHANGE FASHIONABLE - THE GARMENT INDUSTRY TAKES ON GLOBAL WARMING. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS
Luke Holland, Director, Zef Production and Survival International Linsay Robinson, Specialist Technician for Constructed Textiles, Central Saint Martins
Claire Bergkamp, Worldwide Sustainability and Innovation Director, Stella McCartney
Ayse Simsek, Specialist Weave Technician, Central Saint Martins
Veronica Pravato, Circular Economy Lead, Stella McCartney
Jacqueline Mayer, Laboratory Technician, Beyond Surface Technologies
Linda Crosa, Sustainable Fabric Technician, Stella McCartney
Urs Hasler, Head of Product Management, Beyond Surface Technologies
Sandy Hilly, Spinner, The Sussex Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers
Sandy Hilly, Spinner, The Sussex Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers
Hazel Will, Spinner, The London Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers
Laura Miles and Kirsty McDougall, Founders and Designers, Rare Thread
Paola Moglia, Textile Designer
Technocratic birth â†“ Encouraging public discourse on controversial reproductive technologies through design fiction and realism
Do reproductive technologies empower women? Recent scientific advancements in artificial wombs and sex cells grown from skin offer hope for parents of premature babies and people struggling with infertility. For healthy women, they promise liberation from reproductive duties or a way to beat their biological clocks. However, even as big companies begin to offer egg-freezing benefits to female employees, countries like the United States are still battling for reproductive freedoms and paid maternity leave. Will technology deliver us from our biology, or does it promise something that technology alone cannot solve? This project explores how design fiction and realism can promote critical discussions of emerging reproductive technologies and their place in society. The project introduces XX BIOSYSTEMS, a fictional company offering experimental pregnancy services to those seeking an alternative to in vivo birth. Through documentary-style film, it follows two women on their controversial journey to motherhood, investigating the motivations, anxieties and vulnerabilities that may drive us to the complete medicalisation of birth. The film asks whether birth is a tried and true biocultural process, a problem to be solved, or something in between. With the aim of engaging the public in debate around how these technologies are marketed, regulated and implemented, the project explores our relationship with technology, the complexities of choice and what it means to be human. My public health side worries someone who saw this out of context might think itâ€™s real. SPENCER, J. EMAIL TO RACHEL FOLEY, 25 APR, 2019 EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Prof Lauren Jade Martin, Associate Professor of Sociology, Penn State Berks Dr Jessica Spencer, Division Chief of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Emory University School of Medicine Josephine Johnston, Director of Research, The Hastings Center Prof E.A. Burlingame, Medical Anthropologist, Workerbee Wisdom Dr Fahimeh Sasan, ObstetricianGynecologist and Founder, Kindbody
SKIN II â†“ Developing a new interaction between fabric and skin through probiotic technology
Invisible to the naked eye, our bodies play host to millions of microorganisms. Optimal skin conditions depend on the probiotic microbes that live on our bodies. Our skin’s biome is shaped by our natural environment, and what we put on and next to our skin has a direct impact on our bodies. Cosmetic products and fabric finishes on clothing can contain toxic chemicals which disrupt the diversity of bacteria living on our skin. SKIN II, in collaboration with Microbiologist Dr Callewaert, explores the benefits of encapsulating probiotic bacteria into the fibres of clothing. These are activated when they come into contact with the moisture on our skin, allowing them to dominate other less beneficial bacteria. For optimal results, the probiotics are strategically placed in key areas where you would normally sweat. The encapsulated bacteria are associated with reduced body odour, encouraging cell renewal, and improving the skin’s immune system. SKIN II aims to use what is natural on our bodies to advance the functionality of clothing.
Our skin serves as a primary defense, a sensory and an excretory organ. It’s also home to hundreds of millions of microorganisms, which feed on the surface scales and secretions. JABLONSKI, N. . SKIN: A NATURAL HISTORY. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS. Dr Callewaert investigates body odour and the characteristics of the bacteria living on skin, clothes, washing machines and homes. He is the first to undertake bacterial transplants to solve underarm body odour. CALLEWAERT, C., LAMBERT, J. AND VAN DE WIELE, T. . TOWARDS A BACTERIAL TREATMENT FOR ARMPIT MALODOUR. EXPERIMENTAL DERMATOLOGY, 26 , PP. 388-391. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS Dr Chris Callewaert, Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Microbial Ecology and Technology, Ghent University CREDITS Maël Hénaff, Photographer
Tom Schneider, Set Design Consultant
Our skin biome faces many challenges. Our obsession with cleanliness & sterility have created a difficult environment for many beneficial organisms to survive. AOBIOME COSMETICS. YOUR SKIN MICROBIOME.
Bio-Kintsugi â†“ How micro-organisms could be utilised in contemporary craft practices
Wabi-sabi leaves something unfinished or incomplete for the play of the imagination. PROF TANEHISA OTABE, INSTITUTE OF AESTHETICS, TOKYO UNIVERSITY.
Wabi-sabi is an ancient Japanese philosophy focused on accepting the imperfect and transient nature of life. Often associated with Wabisabi is the art of Kintsugi – a method of repairing broken pottery using gold or lacquer. The process highlights, rather than conceals, the cracks allowing them to become a part of the piece. By exploring the qualities and technique of micro-mineralisation, literally the biological process in which living organisms are naturally able to repair themselves, I am hoping to develop and perfect the practice of Bio-Kintsugi, or rather, develop a technique in which micro-organisms and bacteria can repair broken objects efficiently and beautifully. Kintsugi [金継ぎ, “golden joinery”], also known as Kintsukuroi [金繕い, “golden repair”], is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Wabi-sabi [わびさび] the discovery of beauty in imperfection; the acceptance of the cycle of life and death.
Natural patterns are merely pretty, but in understanding their context as transient items that highlight our own awareness of impermanence and death, they become profound. CROSSLEY-BAXTER, L. . JAPAN’S UNUSUAL WAY TO VIEW THE WORLD. Wabi-sabi achieves three things: an awareness of the natural forces involved in the creation of the piece; an acceptance of the power of nature; and an abandonment of dualism – the belief that we are separate from our surroundings. CROSSLEY-BAXTER, L. . JAPAN’S UNUSUAL WAY TO VIEW THE WORLD. EXPERTS AND COLLABORATORS David Miao, PhD Student, Imperial College London Nam Tran, Ceramicist CREDITS Yenchen & Yawen Studio
Pengfei Xu, Photographer
Course Leader Kieren Jones Research Leader Carole Collet Year Leader Marta Giralt Contextual Studies Tutor Stephen Hayward Lead Administrator Hannah Cheesbrough Academic Coordinator Chloe Griffith Visiting Tutors Agi Haines Attua Aparicio Torinos Philippa Wagner External Liaison Coordinator Sinead But Catalogue Design Laura Gordon Photography Tom Mannion
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