What designers are doing to help save the planet, and how to help


Based in Amsterdam and hubs in São Paulo, Mexico City, Delhi, Nairobi and Tokyo, WDCD was founded by creatives who want to harness the power of design to make a practical difference. And they launched a new book, Never Waste A Good Crisis. It spotlights 31 creative optimists working to reinvent the relationship with waste.

It highlights some exciting initiatives and experiments that will help us move closer to a cyclical future and accelerate the transition to a sustainable, just and just society. This beautifully crafted book is an essential reading for all creatives and provides a great way to generate new ideas and fresh thoughts in your own work.

Totomoxtle 2 by Fernando Laposse

Featured creatives include Mexico’s Fernandra Posse. In this project, Totomoxtle combines agricultural waste with indigenous crafts. Yasmine Lari, Pakistan, was built using mud and lime to create a zero carbon and waste shelter. And the Italian studio Formafantasma, whose artwork, Ore Streams, explores the pitfalls and politics of electronics recycling.

We talked to WDCD’s online communications manager and book editor, Natasha Berting, to learn what designers are doing to save the planet and how we can all get involved.

Who can design what and why?

WDCD was launched in 2011 by a creative group in Amsterdam and is headed by graphic designers Richard van der Laken and Pepijn Zurburg. The idea was not only to discuss beautiful chairs and logos, but also to hold an event where people would get together to show that design could be a game changer for society.

Ore flow by Forma Fantasma

Ore flow by Forma Fantasma

Since then, WDCD has grown to cover a wide range of activities, from conferences to books and challenges. But the core mission remains the same. It is about enabling the creative community to make valuable contributions to solving the major problems of our time.

In reality, how much can a designer influence positive change?

Design has a lot to do with our lives, from the clothes we wear to the buildings we live in and the millions of products and services in between. This comes with a lot of responsibility. It will also be one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal when addressing systematic issues such as climate change and waste.

Pimp My Carroça by Thiago Mundano

Pimp My Carroça by Thiago Mundano

Creative is not only a natural problem solver, but also a great storyteller. And in an era when we feel like we’re doing so much to us, we shouldn’t underestimate the value of our imagination. Not only is more people capable of a sustainable future desirable, It’s much more likely to happen.

How did the new book come about?

Never Waste a Good Crisis is the fifth publication in the Yellow Book series, usually featuring 31 pioneering projects on a particular subject. Last year’s WDCD delved into the relationship between design, waste and the circular economy. That’s all about this book.

Among them are the works of 31 creative optimists, all of which bring us closer to a cyclical future in different ways. Of course, this list is not complete. This is a snapshot of a moving industry and just a glimpse of the many initiatives that are changing the conversation about waste around the world.

How did you choose the projects featured in this book?

The selection itself took weeks. We worked with a creative team built into the world of innovation and climate change to move from a long list to a short list in a series of meetings. Since waste is a complex and multifaceted problem, I felt it was important to present diverse solutions and perspectives.

That’s why we’ve included ideas from both established and emerging designers in more than 20 countries. The book also reflects a wide range of disciplines and strategies, from exciting new materials and technologies to key explorations of concepts such as ownership, convenience and novelty.

One of the most exciting design experiments we had was the seaweed cycle. Can you talk about it?

Seaweed Cycle is a continuous experiment led by Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros. They have spent much of the last decade exploring how 3D printing can be used to support the local economy while pushing the boundaries of 3D printing and expanding the value of biomaterials such as algae. I did.

Klarenbeek and Dros believe that this renewable resource could eventually replace all petroleum-based plastics. To demonstrate the concept, the pair has developed a unique, fully biodegradable material called “weedwear”. It can be used for almost any 3D print, from shampoo bottles to tableware and furniture. But what makes their approach special is how it fits the big picture.

Today, they are working with local seaweed farmers and the seaside community to build an ecosystem centered on bio-based materials and products. We are also planning to build a network of 3D print hubs in this area with the aim of creating a new era.

If we want to reduce waste and its catastrophic impact on climate change, we need to see fundamental changes in almost every sector. It’s a huge and difficult task, but there are signs that change is already underway.

We were also intrigued by the slum studio. Please tell me about it.

Founded by artist Serkoviga, Slum Studios is a group of Ghanaians who breathe new life into second-hand clothing and textiles from some of the world’s largest second-hand markets. What makes their work unique is their vibrant interdisciplinary approach. Through storytelling, performance and photography, the studio is working to uncover the power structure involved in the fashion industry.

We believe that such artistic initiatives are of great importance as they invite us to investigate the political and social aspects of waste where the impact of waste is most noticeable. .. As Kofiga says, “If you have the power to buy, you have the power to ask the players involved.”

Seaweed cycle by Studio Klarenbeek.

Seaweed cycle by Studio Klarenbeek.

How sustainable is the book itself?

With the help of Zwaan Lenoir, a local Dutch printer, we published a small print of this book. Fedrigoni supplied paper made of partially recycled FSC certified fiber. To minimize the impact, all the extra paper created during the manufacturing process is turned into notebooks and reused in other projects.

What do you hope this book will accomplish?

If we want to reduce waste and its catastrophic impact on climate change, we need to see fundamental changes in almost every sector. It’s a huge and difficult task, but there are signs that change is already underway.

Slum studio by Sel Kofiga. Photo by Fibi Afloe

Slum studio by Sel Kofiga. Photo by Fibi Afloe

Yasmine Lari & Heritage Foundation Makuri Cultural Center by Pakistan

Yasmine Lari & Heritage Foundation Makuri Cultural Center by Pakistan

In this book, we wanted to celebrate the swell of creatives who are already playing an active role in the transition to a more cyclical future. We hope that seeing these concrete examples will inspire and inspire other manufacturers to tackle this issue.

As a designer who really makes a difference, what small changes can you make?

One of the tips I learned from the creatives in the community is to ask as many questions as possible early in the design process. Whether you are an architect or a copywriter, you can start every project by thinking about its life cycle, material requirements, and value in a wider system.

Question: What happens to the design when it’s expired? Can it have many or different lifetimes? Is it easy to design for repair or disassembly? Who is most influenced by your design? Can you find a way to make it both human-centric and earth-centric?

Circular garden by CRAAssociati.Photo by Marco Beck Pekoz

Circular garden by CRAAssociati.Photo by Marco Beck Pekoz

Applying these principles from the beginning helps avoid catching up further downstream. It also helps to remember the true goals of the circulatory system. Not only is it more responsible for treating waste, but it also uses less resources and reduces products in the first place.


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