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Coming Soon: Waste Age: What Can Design Do?


The Design Museum presents a new vision for the near future with Waste Age: What Can Design Do? Opening on 23 October 2021, the museum invites visitors to explore how designers are redefining fashion, construction, food, electronics, packaging and more through over 300 objects, by designing out waste and creating a more circular economy.

The first section of the exhibition ‘Peak Waste’ confronts visitors with the epic scale of global waste – making the case for urgent change. Shining a light on how mass production and our consumption habits contribute to growing landfills, visitors will be able to follow their rubbish across the globe through a large-scale waste tracker. The exhibition examines how we arrived at today’s throwaway culture, one in which 80% of products are thrown away in their first six months of life.

From then on, the exhibition focusses on solutions and new thinking. Moving into ‘Precious Waste’, visitors will learn more about the raw materials used in everyday products through object deconstructions by Studio Drift as well as the designers leading the way in recycling waste into new resources. These include sustainable materials in fashion by Stella McCartney, Adidas and Bethany Williams; to construction materials such as the K Briq by Kenoteq, which uses almost 90% less carbon than a regular brick, and new lives for plastic like the S-1500 chair by Snohetta, made from discarded fishing nets.

In ‘Post Waste’ discover proposals for new circular methods of production, with a focus on grown rather than extracted materials. Visitors will see experimental designs that introduce a whole new world of clothing, products and packaging made from natural materials such as coconut, algae, and corn husks. Fernando Laposse’s The Dogs bench uses raw fibres from the leaves of the Agave plant and The Blast Studio’s 3D printed column, made with waste and the fungus Mycelum, promotes a no-waste architecture.

This section also delves into how we can change our systems and behaviours to consume less. It examines models of sharing, labelling, and design-for-disassembly, which can help objects last for longer, be repaired and significantly reduce how much is manufactured and discarded. From local solutions like Kamikatsu, a Zero Waste Town in Japan to a display of tool sharing libraries across the world, the exhibition will promote living without waste and imagines a more resourceful world for future generations.

Gemma Curtin, Waste Age Curator said:We must face the problem of waste – we can no longer ignore what happens to things when we get rid of them. Instead of thinking of objects as things that have an end life, this exhibition proposes that they can have many lives. This is not just an exhibition it is a campaign #EndTheWasteAge, and we all have an active part in our future. The exhibition will show design is at the forefront of sustainable solutions.”

Waste Age: What Can Design Do? opens on Saturday 23 October 2021 at the Design Museum. More ticket information is available on the Design Museum website.

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