A few months ago we presented the School of Phyto-centered Design, the 2023 summer program curated by d-o-t-s – Laura Drouet and Olivier Lacrouts – for the Design Campus at Pillnitz Palace and Park in Dresden, Germany. From 22 September at Vienna Design Week it will be possible to see Room for Change, an installation which, in addition to presenting the works produced by the participants of the summer school, invites us to change perspective: question harmful agricultural practices and look at plants as allies for militant and poetic design scenarios. (cover image The Avocado Legacy, ph. Benedikt Trojer)
Showcasing material experiments, fashion items, products, performances as well as videos and photos, Room For Change highlights the design and narrative potential of plants and reveals stories of interdependence, empowerment, resilience, but also exploitation, overconsumption, and colonization.
The Avocado Legacy
Among the works on show is the research conducted by Kareem Goshan, Katherine Lopez, Benedikt Trojer directed by the Mexican designer Fernando Laposse, which explores the potential of design as a tool to trigger new social and environmental debates starting from the avocado.
Taking the current global obsession for this fruit as the starting point for their research, the group has developed a collection of artefacts that transform avocado waste (peels, seeds) into new biomaterials and natural dyes. While highlighting the manifold creative applications that the plant enables, the project wishes also to encourage the public to reflect further on the ecological and social repercussions that consumption-driven lifestyles produce. The cultivation of the plant is one of the biggest driving forces behind deforestation, biodiversity loss and violence towards vulnerable communities in Mexico. The Avocado Legacy reminds us that in a highly connected world, our choices as consumers always have an impact.
The collection also tries to draw parallels – in a critical but ironic way – with events that occurred in the past such as colonialism: the aesthetics of the artefacts recalls that of 17th century objects which exploited precious and exotic materials for the creation of products linked to myths and esoteric beliefs, far from the original cultural use of the material.
Another of the projects that will be possible to see at Room for Change is The Harvest, a fashion collection that celebrates plants, seasonality and decay, born from the collaboration between eight international creative designers – Davide Balda, Jaqueline Lobodda, Deborah Egger, Sahra Jajarmikhayat, Ano Jishkariani, Chi Tran, Sujia Wang, Dana Zoutman – under the artistic direction of the French designer Emma Bruschi, winner of the 19M Prix des Métiers d’Art de CHANEL at the 35t Festival International Fashion, Photography, and Fashion Accessories – Hyères 2020.
Inspired by the surrounding nature, the designers have reinterpreted natural fibers and materials of plant origin and traditional techniques – such as weaving, weaving, spinning, using crochet – with a contemporary language. The result is six experimental and poetic “looks” that celebrate the concepts of reciprocity and symbiosis with nature. The collection highlights the creative and narrative potential of the plant world, rediscovering the history and technical possibilities of plants in textile production and fashion.
Other projects from the Room For Change installation
Among the other works on show is a selection of material experiments and prototypes – developed during the 2023 edition of the School of Utopias – which reveals part of the research process behind the objects protagonists of the installation. The Manifesto of Phyto-centred Design by do-t-s, in collaboration with Matthieu Visentin (graphic design), which questions the dominant anthropocentric vision of the Western world and invites creatives to reframe their relationship with non-human beings and especially plants. We Are All Lichens, a textile flag, the result of Natalia Cerda Milla‘s research. Chita’ Anyaman, braiding tales by Evey Kwong, a collection of palm-woven wearables. The film Plant Circus by Katharina Mludek, Katrin Schwarz, Julia Sulikowska which portrays a typical day at Pillnitz Palace and Park, between fiction and reality.
For the spirit and format of the Room for Change installation, a conscious choice was made not to buy new plants but to temporarily host existing ones, lent by Katharina and Thomas’s Vienna-based design studio mischer’traxler. The plants will return at their home after the end of Vienna Design Week.
Don’t miss Room For Change and the results of the School of Phyto-centered Design curated by d-o-t-s, visit the installation at the Festival Headquarters, Prater 2, Laufbergergasse 12 and follow the studio on Instagram!