Climate Artists


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.

AIRED: October 03, 2019 | 0:04:47

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.



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