‘Of all the goods of human palms, [waste] is the oeuvre that no one desires to very own, go over or preferably even see,’ suggests Justin McGuirk, main curator of the Structure Museum, as the establishment unveils ‘Waste Age: What Can Design and style Do?’ (until eventually 20 February 2022). Co-curated by McGuirk along with Gemma Curtin, the exhibition coincides with the UN Weather Alter Meeting (COP26) and options the perform of structure visionaries and pioneers of new means of repurposing and reinventing our relationship with squander.

The waste problem

Oxford tire pile #1, Westley, California, 1999, from the series ‘Extraction and Landfill’ by Edward Burtynsky. Courtesy Bouquets Gallery, London / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

The exhibition opens with a part titled ‘Peak Waste’, highlighting the environmental and squander price tag of mass generation. Contemplating landfills, mass manufacturing, and throwaway society by means of background and design and style, the exhibit culminates in a timeline exploring humanity’s partnership with squander from the 1700s until finally currently. 

The timeline in particular gives a sense of the urgency of the problem, as the troubles of creation, intake and waste become more multifaceted and elaborate in modern day record. ‘We will have to facial area the dilemma of waste – we can no longer dismiss what occurs to issues when we get rid of them,’ claims Curtin. 

Developing with waste

Layouts in recycled plastic: best, two chairs by Dirk van der Kooij, and light-weight by James Shaw. Higher than, ’S-1500’ chair, created by Snøhetta for Nordic Convenience Merchandise and produced from discarded fishing nets, and Jasper Morrison’s ’1 Inch’ chair for Emeco, built of industrial recycled waste

Following strolling through info and images that could possibly give people a sense of details-induced doom, the exhibition opens up (practically and figuratively) into a hall crammed with ideas, proposals, prototypes and hope. This area, divided into ‘Precious Waste’ (celebrating the designers repurposing leftover resources in their perform) and ‘Post Waste’ (discovering approaches in which squander can be repurposed for style) is the place things switch optimistic, highlighting how designers, makers and creatives are addressing the problem with functional solutions. 

‘Instead of considering of objects as things that have an close existence, this exhibition proposes that they can have many life,’ says Curtin. 

‘Materialism’ by Drift

The parts on exhibit exhibit the breadth and depth of the style and design industry’s involvement in tackling the squander challenge, from Formafantasma’s ‘Ore Streams’ investigations to Christien Meindertsma’s ‘Renoleum’ job, to Drift’s ‘Materialism’, the final result of ongoing investigation into products (from metal and rubber tomato oil and porcelain) and their overall look. 

The ‘Precious Waste’ area exhibits range from vogue by Stella McCartney, and Adidas x Parley for the Oceans, to recycled plastic furniture models by the likes of Soft Baroque, James Shaw and Jasper Morrison for Emeco, and PriestmanGoode’s ‘Zero’ takeaway packaging structure. Bricks, tiles and other building resources are also showcased, as are assignments that appear at repurposing architectural buildings in the spirit of adapting and fixing. 

‘Post Waste’, on the other hand, features the ongoing work by designers who are doing work with elements this kind of as mycelium, rice husks, fish-farming and agricultural waste. This area includes innovations these as Faber Futures’ ‘Project Coelicolor’, or Fernando Laposse’s agave and corn husk squander home furnishings. 

‘Design has assisted produce our wasteful culture, and it will be essential in making a cleaner foreseeable future,’ states McGuirk. ‘That means rethinking the life and components that do so significantly hurt. This optimistic exhibition demonstrates the energy and ingenuity getting utilized to the challenge – and we want it to mark a turning stage. There is so much we can do, but it commences with knowledge our waste.’

Specially commissioned installations

Aurora, by Arthur Mamou-Mani, in partnership with Dassault Systèmes

Aurora by Arthur Mamou-Mani. Pictures: Felix Speller

Suspended from the Style and design Museum’s soaring atrium is a 3D-printed modular installation by London-based mostly French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani, a pioneer in additive manufacturing. The architect, who has designed 3D-printed architecture for the likes of Burning Person and Milan Design Week, has on this event devised a cascading curtain of some 300 modules, printed from bioplastic polylactic acid (PLA), a non-toxic thermoplastic derived from sugarcane. Titled Aurora, it’s an case in point of how structure, science and business can appear jointly and enable us to deliver extra sustainably.

With mild variants in sort and opacity, the alluringly patterned modules are testomony the capabilities of parametric design and 3D-printing their relatively small dimensions and straightforward metallic rods that hold them in put make sure that they can be effortlessly dismantled and reassembled at a further site, or repurposed as room dividers the moment the exhibition finishes. Spotlights have been strategically positioned all around the installation, filtering through the translucent modules to develop playful designs of mild and shadow across the atrium floor. 

An accompanying show on the mezzanine stage features figures that illustrate the virtues of PLA – compared to Abs, a petroleum-derived thermoplastic, it needs much less drinking water, minerals and metals, and comes with a lot less possibility of respiratory and carcinogenic results. A 3D-printer and plastic crusher are mounted adjacent, so website visitors can witness the modules being crushed, melted and reformed, as PLA is recycled and printed all over again in a continuous loop.

Suggests Mamou-Mani of the presentation: ‘It’s very important that designers get started thinking past the time body of their projects, the place the product arrived from, in which it is likely, how it can be reconfigured. The total lifecycle desires to be taken into thing to consider. Aurora demonstrates that this is attainable currently, if only we regulate our imagining.’

Fadama 40, by Ibrahim Mahama

Fadama 40, by Ibrahim Mahama

Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, regarded for reworking supplies gathered in urban environments into ambitious installations that check out migration, trade and exploitation, has established a new set up for ‘Waste Age’. Titled Fadama 40, it comprises 40 CRT tv sets salvaged from Agbogbloshie, the world’s greatest electronic squander dump, positioned outside the town of Accra.

Agbogbloshie is a consequence of the produced world’s infatuation with the new – in our aggressive pursuit of sleeker, more quickly, slimmer electronic devices, we not often hesitate to throw out more mature versions. Many of our previous electronics close up right here, imported as ‘secondhand client products’, then improperly disposed of, producing prevalent air pollution and long-term illness. Mahama’s installation, which has the 40 TVs organized into a gigantic media wall, suggests the enormity of the concern, but also points to the toil and ingenuity of Agogbloshie’s scrap dealers, recyclers and makers.

On some of the screens, we see video clip footage of folks employing rudimentary approaches to extract copper from electrical wires, burning the plastic insulation and creating harmful fumes in the course of action. Mahama has utilised this recovered copper to build new frames for the TVs, featuring bodily evidence of the possibility of renewal but also pointing to its human value.

Not sufficient men and women just take the time to recognize the individuals of Agbogbloshie, defined Mahama in a discuss at the Layout Museum soon just before the opening of ‘Waste Age’. They have often been stereotyped, their house likened to Sodom and Gomorrah. He hopes that the installation will give people a renewed sense of perspective, a larger appreciation for the tricky labour that goes into recycling, as perfectly as a heightened consciousness of the global implications of our relentless use. §