Greetings! We are Ana Luiza and Marlon from SOMA_studiomilano - a communicator and industrial designer duo living and working in Milan, Italy. We are thrilled to be guest authors this month in mebl’s blog, sharing our passion for the circular economy with a fantastic community.
We’re striving for a shift towards a circular economy and a sustainable future for all. For us, sharing thought-provoking ideas is one of the best ways to raise awareness and inspire action.
Every year, we cover the leading European design fairs to discover how brands, designers, artisans, and students are incorporating circular economy principles into their work. In 2021 -- with the return of in-person design fairs such as the Milan Design Week (Italy), London Design Festival (UK), and Dutch Design Week (Netherlands) – we were again back in the streets of Milan, London, and Eindhoven. We could touch, smell, and experience materials and textures in their full beauty and power!
Once more, we've confirmed that life-centered design is increasingly replacing human-centered design. Please don't get us wrong, a human-centered approach to design is good for everyone, but it is not enough. The climate crisis and pandemic demonstrate that ecosystems must be in the center of everything, not humans.
A life-centered design approach sees people as nodes in an ecosystem and focuses on all lives. After exploring these recent design fairs, we’d love to share some of our favorite initiatives exploring this approach to creating new materials, products and repurposed waste.
BUILDING LIVING HOMES
Architects could soon be designing buildings using only biomaterials. During Dutch Design Week 2021, Biobased Studio showcased a home built almost entirely from biomaterials, including mycelium, seaweed, straw, and vegetable fibers. Take a tour here
TREASURING INDUSTRIAL WASTE
Broken chunks, saw residue and marble grit are transformed into stunning furniture, unveiled at Milan Design Week 2021. The Stone House project by Stefan Scholten up-cycles marble and travertine waste from quarries around Italy, exploring centuries-old techniques of assembling and using stone. Learn more here
EXPLORING ALGORITHMIC DESIGN
Simon Gehring combines algorithmic design and leftover materials from the forestry industry to create The Regrowth table. Using digital manufacturing methods, this German designer manages to process branches in a minimally invasive way, preserving the branches' growth story. The piece was showcased at the Supersalone 2021 during Milan Design Week. Learn more here
MEETING DESIGNERS OF TOMORROW
Wallpaper and American Hardwood Export Council presented Discovered, a platform to promote design’s next-generation. Designers from 16 countries created pieces that represent their functional and emotional connections with everyday objects. They were given the choice of four sustainable U.S. hardwoods. Visit the exhibition here
The Circular Design Project series of talks by SAP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation took place during the London Design Festival, presenting unique insights into the global circular economy. ‘Plastics/Talk’ discusses the impact of plastics and the role of design in shaping a circular future -- in which there is no such thing as waste. Watch it here
We hope you feel as inspired by these mind-blowing projects as we are! If you wish to discover other outstanding initiatives, visit the fairs’ digital platforms:
Fuorisalone + Supersalone (Milan Design Week)
London Design Festival
Dutch Design Week
Photo Credits in Order:
The Exploded View Beyond Building - Photography is by Oscar Vinck and Jeroenvander Wielen
The Stone House - Palazzo Turati pictures by Simone Bossi and process pictures by Andrea Pepe
Regrowth table - Images courtesy of Simon Gehring
The exhibition Discovered: Designers for Tomorrow - Photography is by Thom Atkinson
The Circular Design Project series of talks - Image courtesy of London Design Festival supported by SAP