Sustainable Design – “We should try to think like plants” used to say American ecologist Ian Baldwin. What if designers, scientists and engineers started to look into plants’ structures and behaviours as a starting point to develop solutions for current and upcoming environmental and social issues? From October 18, 2020 to February 12, 2021, CID Grand Hornu museum in Belgium, will host the exhibition ’PLANT FEVER – Towards a phyto-centred design’.
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Curated by Laura Drouet and coordinated by Olivier Lacrouts, the founders of studio d-o-t-s, PLANT FEVER “looks at the future of design from this new vegetal perspective, moving from a human-centred to a phyto-centred design.” On show a selection ranging from fashion items to material research, open-source devices and emerging technologies.
We have selected 8 biophilic designs ready to go on show.
Don’t talk to your bonsai, hear what it has to say
Plants use electro-chemical signals to communicate their needs. Design engineer Helene Steiner Florence developed Project Florence, the first plant-to-human interface through that allows your Bonsai to communicate with you… Through the power of language research, biology, design, and engineering! “Project Florence is a speculative glimpse into our Future where both our Natural and Digital worlds could co-exist in harmony through enhanced communication.” Says the designer.
A plants’ Insta-Pedia
“Contrary to popular belief, it is not the human species that selects the houseplant to furnish the domestic environment; it is the plant itself that proliferates in the area of its own choosing.” Says Amsterdam-based designer Sjoer ter Bord.
His Botanica Variegata is a system of classification and taxonomy of plants, according to their online presence on Instagram. An algorithmic structure analyses tens of thousands of plant images in relation to their surroundings — ranging from cats, dogs, colours, design objects and art to human demographics.
Re-thinking the planter as an extension of its guest
Dutch designer Tim van Der Weerd has created The Monstera family of distinctive vases that comes with elegant legs and high gloss finish.
Conceived as an extension of the plant, rather than a separate object, the series is in fact a new ‘species’ of vessels; one that “liberates the plant from the windowsill and in which plants can regain their natural freedom, even within the interior.” Explain the designer.
Petting leafy flatmates
The Phytophiler glazed ceramic pot collection by Livia Rossi and Gianluca Giabardo of Dossofiorito studio invite to take care and pet plants inhabiting our living spaces. The Helsinki-based studio have created additional functional appendices that allow to interact with the domestic world of plants, through methods and sensibilities that are typical human acts.
“Such gestures improve our relationship with plants as an important evidence of a new widespread attitude towards Nature.” Say the designers. The collection aims to raise “an established awareness of finding ourselves in front of sensitive beings that belong to an ‘other’ world that completes us.”
Exploring pre-plastic era plastic aesthetic
For the Botanica collection, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma investigated century olds natural ways to obtain ‘plasticity’ as if oil-based era, in which we are living, never took place and plastic was never invented. The textural vessels are made from Copal, a sub-fossil state of amber, natural rubber, Shellac, a polymer extracted from insect excrement that colonize trees, Bois Durci, a 19th-century material composed of wood dust and animal blood, and more. The collection comes with organic details, plant-like forms and earthy tones.
“We attempted to develop a new post-industrial aesthetic, reinterpreting centuries-old technology lost beneath the flawless surface of mass production.” Explain the designers.
Turning pine needles into fabrics and furniture
Pine trees are the world’s main source of timber. Every year 600 million pine trees are cut down in the EU and 20 to 30% of their mass is needles. With the Forest Wool project, Academy Eindhoven graduate Tamara Orjola has created a series of ecological stools and carpets made with processed pine needles that show a high-quality look and feel.
“With standard manufacturing techniques – crushing, soaking, steaming, carding, binding and pressing – they can be transformed into textiles, composites and paper, extracting essential oil and dye in the process.” Says the designer.
Sitting on artichokes
Athen-based KIZI Design Studio teamed up with local makers to create the Artichair, a seat made from wild processed artichokes. Using the top of the plant obtained from the biofuel industry, the Greek studio created a new high quality semi natural laminate, easy to mass produce, bend, cut and press.
“We believe that keeping close with the manufacturing and creative process is paramount to ensuring quality and consistency.” Explains Sypros Kizis.
When plant design goes back to the roots of immigration
Parisian duo Dach & Zephir explored the theme of immigration in France starting from the leaves and natural materials and traditional weaving techniques from the country of origin of immigrants themselves.
“To evoke a culture does not mean succinctly to allot a land, a people and rites which could make it its specificity.” Explain Florian Dach and Dimitri Zephir. “It also means restoring his memory and attesting to his ability to reinvent himself, to weave with a plural present, where everyone can be himself with his qualities and his faults.”
All images: courtesy of the designers and CID Grand Hornu.