2017 Speaker Series - Earth

The facts are clear and the status is both alarming and depressing — the state of our natural world is the biggest global issue we face. There are so many factors contributing to the degradation of our environment that it’s overwhelming. How can we begin to tackle the problem when it is so huge and complex?

This is a big question. And I don’t know about you, but when faced with it, I’m often frozen into a state of inaction and despair, wondering, What can I possibly do that will have an impact?

On a personal and social level it’s undeniable that environmental problems affect us all — our health, the economy, our children’s’ futures. But instead of acknowledging the problem, engaging with and addressing it, many of us:

– Minimise it (it’s not changing my world right now so it can’t be that bad)
– Distract ourselves from it (I would do more but I just don’t have the time to figure out what exactly to do)
– Leave it to someone else to figure out (there are other people better equipped to solve this)
– Adopt a hopeless attitude (there’s nothing to be done now, it’s too late)

These are not only lazy attitudes, but also dangerous — yet incredibly common and natural (if some or all of these sound familiar, I recommend a wonderful book called Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, which helped me define some more useful thought patterns).

On a professional level it can be just as challenging. As design consultants and consumers we have the privilege to create and educate — and the responsibility to do so in a thoroughly responsible way.

However, we work in the real world, not the ideal world. Sometimes environmental priorities will be sacrificed to keep the budget down, get a project finished on time or to maintain a relationship. And we all perform this balancing act every day. It’s not easy, but know that every effort to design more sustainably, and to educate yourself and your colleagues and clients makes a difference. Regardless of the outcome, if you are taking the time to have the conversation and present alternative solutions, you are acting with due diligence, to the best of your capabilities.

It was in a spirit of active hope, that this particular talk was born. It’s vital for us to remember that despite the complexity and size of the environmental problem, there are things that can be done. And not just one thing, but many things. We in the creative industries have the power to devise sustainable solutions that not only reduce, recycle or reuse waste, educate and promote awareness — but also inspire, uplift and engage. And there are many working towards this, each using their particular skills, knowledge and motivation to reveal just one part of the solution.

We invited five such creatives to come and share their work and sustainable approach in the ‘Earth: powered by Pecha Kucha’ talk at DENFAIR 2017. The format allows 20 slides per presenter, shown for 20 seconds each and not surprisingly, the passion that our presenters have for the topic made it a challenge to keep the narrations concise.

Tom Fereday shared the sustainable elements of the furniture pieces he was presenting at DENFAIR through a number of retailers and collaborations, explaining that manufacturing techniques play a large role in his sustainable design solutions.

Environmental artist Debbie Symons explores how we can create a deeper understanding of scientific environmental data by pushing it back into the public sphere, showing the connections between human societies and the pressures facing other species.

Industrial designer Paul Charlwood works across many products via his studio. He explained that environmental impact needs to be considered early on in the design process. Simple strategies, how something is made and making products that last all fit under the sustainable design banner.

Sarah K founded the Marine Debris Bakelite Project with Andrew Simpson via Supercyclers. They have devised a new material created from 100% recycled plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which was collected from Australian shores — and various designers have used the material to create a series of cooking and serving vessels.

Archier is a design studio that creates design experiences, make spaces and develop products — sometimes in collaboration. Chris Haddad, one of the founders, took us through their approach to architecture, including using recycled materials, focusing on a range of bathroom ceramics created in collaboration with Lindsey Wherrett.

Whether sourcing sustainable products, urging clients to rethink their needs versus their desires for newer and bigger (not necessarily better) spaces and products or actively boycotting those (including replicas) that are unsustainable, the option to make a difference in a professional capacity is available to all of us.

The stories of our presenters showed some of what is being achieved and the variety of ways in which we can contribute to the solution. It’s an exciting space to be creatively working and playing in, and with so much more to be done, we can look forward to watching their progress — and actively engaging in our own.

Podcast Part 1


Podcast Part 2

Related Topics:

Archier - Nicky Lobo - Paul Charlwood - Speaker Series - Tom Fereday