Reuse is the word of the day. From recently finished London Fashion week we have seen a recycling tendency in fashion, and during London Design Festival the pattern once again is to find amongst the interiors.
At Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington I find the flagmen Campana brother´s well known trash aesthetics expressed through a collection of sofas with cut rubber in layers. This we have seen before, but what strikes me when I walk through the expo areas, is that litter seem to have taken over our minds and our expressions.Sometimes in pure anarchy as in Joanne Hamilton´s jewelry collection (Tent London) – wires, cables and ropes, knitted together to beautiful pieces of body adornments. At Designers Block, I am facing the trash again in the Campana inspired “Meltdown Chair” by Tom Price, made through heating and pressing a seat-shaped former in a ball of polypropylene rope. Simple and spectacular. “London Still Life” is a series of photographs by Jack Cole. At first look they appear as Dutch 17th century still life oil paintings, but at a closer look each part of the still life is rubbish found at varied locations in London. All together this gives us a portrait of each area, with titles like “Brick Lane E1”, “Portland Rise Estate, N4” and” Southbank SE1”. The feeling of doom I find in this work can characterize the London Design Festival in all; the litter overwhelms us, taking over our controlled lives and attacks our cultural and historical icons in anarchistic forms. Tables and lamps are breaking apart, melting to a non-recognizable mess. The bookshelves are fragile, missing support and fall on the floor at first attempt using them. Our world is breaking down and we are all aware of it.
But there is hope! The London-based design group Postlerferguson questions the food transportation systems and the food industry. They recommend us to hold a door open to our roots – for a socially and ecological sustainability. Inspired by farming societies and the community’s social bonds, they have created a tray for chopping and preparing vegetables for the winter season. The separate handles means that you have to cooperate physical and strategic with at least another person to handle the preparation process. Even at Royal College of Art the students are showing fearlessness when it comes to creative thinking and urgent solutions. In the “slow Water” exhibition they have focused on innovations to minimize the water waste. For example the greenhouse that collects rainwater, a tap display to control our water consumption, or a heat sensitive shower curtain that reacts to the time spent in the shower.
Even if Postlerferguson´s and the RCA student´s projects more or less are on a conceptual level, they catch something essential – they have understood that they have to dig deep under the designed surface. It is about changing deep rooted patterns of consumption that is affecting our environment in a negative way; from avoiding long-distance transports to creating low-waste products made to last for generations – in shape, material and quality.
What worries me is that even if the young and independent designers urgent reflects about the environmentally future at London Design Festival and obvious has understood that a big change is to come very soon, many of the greater actors still do not show reflections in their product range.
In spite of sustainability as this year´s festival theme and several good initiatives such as seminars, exhibitions and workshops from the festival management, there seems to be difficult to translate theory to practice in the never ending stream of products. To ignore the climate debate and in the year of 2007 go for products that only focus on form experiment is provokingly thoughtless. Whether you choose to work with the often used “good/bad taste” theme, as in Moooi´s stand amongst others, or highlight expressions shown in the Zaha Hadid exhibition “Architecture and Design” at Design Museum, where as for example a non-functional city car in SUV size is shown and where she time after time tell us that size and form stands above both nature and culture – then you are going a provocative road that only will end up in a dead end.

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Post and pictures by Hanna Ljungström, Designer, LOTS.

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