Nature-- Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial
Go inside Nature-- Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, an exhibit that features over 60 collaborations between designers, scientists, engineers, environmentalists, and academics to find inventive and promising solutions to environmental and social challenges.
Design is about externalizing our priorities.
It's about finding solutions, recognizing where there are problems, and how we can
potentially address those.
So, a triennial is a broad survey of all different types
of design that are happening today so of course it includes everything from
architecture, to product design, fashion, and graphic design. So really there is a
huge wide range of design disciplines that are on view here in the exhibition.
As curators we then go into designer studios, labs, and workshops to see how
designers then are working around that theme of nature.
Artist and designer Sam Van Aken
uses the centuries-old grafting technology to combine multiple fruit
varietals on one single tree. He can graft apples and plums and peaches and
apricots and cherries in effect almost creating an orchard on one tree. It was
something that we knew immediately had to be in the triennial. It provided an
interesting bridge and pathway between very ancient technologies used in a
completely new in almost mutant hybrid way towards a really effective end aimed
at preservation of these rare heirloom fruit varietals.
I think at this particular moment where so many of us feel fearful and anxious
and concerned about the future, designers certainly very much are
starting from that point. And ultimately I think that a lot of the work that we
see here in the exhibition, it does point us to a way forward.
After Ancient Sunlight is a project of mine that is an algae plastic carbon-negative
raincoat. It's made of a plastic I developed it's made entirely from marine
algae. And what I hope it does is make climate change much more tangible
by bringing carbon out of a invisible flavorless gas and into a solid material
in order to highlight how much of the material-built environment is actually
complicit in climate change, how our materials cement, steel, and plastic all
intrinsically emit carbon, and how there's actually a new wave of
technology coming that makes it possible to imagine new materials that don't
release carbon they actually sequester it into their materials.
I do think that the raincoat is useful at conveying what I'm trying to convey because it
points to --it speaks to the fact that climate change is extreme weather it's
not polar bears and icebergs; it's already here, and that the materials we
need to combat climate change are already here.
at Terreform we believe
that in order to rethink things we have to remake things. So this is a prototype
that is designed to rebuild monarch butterfly populations. Monarchs are
unique to New York because they go on this amazing 3,000 mile migration. So in
terms of the effects of climate change on butterflies it's a very drastic. Where
butterflies go to over winter is a climatic strip in Mexico and because of
temperature changes the strip is diminishing and this building is
designed to be a way station for them to stop by, to lay their young, and then to
progress on their way down to Mexico. And we did all this through principles of
ecological design such as biomaterials, materials that could be reused, remade, as
well as a modularity so the system can be replicated at multiple scales.
There really are ideas and potential solutions out there that reflect our
transforming relationship with nature, recognizing that we very much are a part
of it, and we are reliant on it, and need to work with it much more
collaboratively than really we ever have before.
The future of climate change is incredibly vibrant because now we've
quantified it and now we are working on qualitative ways of showing the impacts
of it. And what I hope people take away from this project is a sense that
working on climate change is not just a dour obligation that it's actually
really exciting. It's a future that's worth living into and worth having a
vision of that is hopeful and creates a better more inclusive world than the one
we are leaving in the past.