Humans are amazing designers. We can design a rocket that lands on the moon. We can design and implant an artificial hip joint. We can design a watch that pays for groceries. But can we design a sustainable planet?
Paola Antonelli, Senior Director of Architecture & Design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the curator of the 22nd edition of the Milan Triennial, claims “Our only chance at survival is to design our own beautiful extinction.”
“Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival,” taking place in Milan until September, is an in-depth exploration underlining the concept of restorative design, highlighting objects and concepts that reconsider human beings’ relationship with the environment.
For example, the Netherlands-based Studio Formafantasma’s “Ore Streams” tackles the issue of electronic waste, with all of the discarded smartphones, computers and tablets whose toxic components end up in our landfills. The studio designs elegant office furniture made of repurposed electronic components, based on the idea that objects should be engineered to become useless before they wear out.
Other product examples include Brooklyn-based textile designer Scott Bodenner’s “Mixtape,” which weaves discarded audio and video tapes into upholstery fabrics and Adidas and Parley for the Oceans’ running shoes constructed out of plastic ocean waste.
Of course, we need BIG ideas more than we need recycled sneakers. In my experience, design is only as good as the top decision maker. In this critical time for planet Earth, we need visionary leaders who support the best and brightest to conceive solutions on a huge and complex scale. Instead, many of the world’s leaders deny a climate crisis even exists. Humankind will eventually go the way of the dinosaur, but I feel we’re smart enough to design some delays.
Read the article in the New York Times by Kimberly Bradley.
Studio Formafantasma’s “Ore Streams” furniture
Scott Bodenner’s “Mixtape” fabrics
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