(11 Sep 2018) LEADIN:
Environmentally-friendly creations and gender-neutral clothing are starring at an annual competition at London’s Design Museum.
Curators say designers are tackling challenges faced by the world, whether it’s mounting plastic pollution or climate change.
It might look like top couture, but this recycled dress by UK-based designer Matty Bovan was woven from tweed suits once owned by his late grandmother.
It’s greeting visitors to the eleventh Beazley Designs of the Year exhibit, held at London’s Design Museum.
This stone table was created by London-based designer Paul Cocksedge. In response to the threat of eviction from his east London studio, he drilled tonnes of material from its floor and began creating.
Creations by almost 90 nominees are on display as part of the annual design competition.
Concern over the environment is a major theme. Curator Aric Chen says many are tackling challenges faced by our planet, from mounting plastic pollution to climate change.
“I think, design has always been a very responsive discipline. I mean, it really is about really articulating, navigating and making sense of the world that we inhabit,” he says.
“So, in that sense, I think it’s only natural that designers are looking at some of the challenges and questions that we’re confronted with.”
One example is this environmentally-friendly water bottle, made by Will and Jaden Smith’s drinks brand JUST Water. It’s completely biodegradable, including the cap.
“They created a brand called JUST Water and it uses biodegradable paper containers with caps that are not plastic but derive from sugarcane and are compostable,” explains Chen.
Campaign group A Plastic Planet is showcasing what’s claimed to be a plastic-free supermarket aisle.
It features an array of recyclable glass, metal, cardboard and biodegradable containers.
“I think it is scalable, but it starts from we have to work on different levels and has to come from the consumer,” says A Plastic Planet co-founder Frederikke Magnussen.
“Right now, we can’t shop plastic-free, we can have gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, wheat-free, but we don’t have a plastic-free option.
“So, we want to be able to give people that option in their daily shop. So, if you don’t want to have plastic in your life, you don’t have to.”
While the #MeToo movement has focused on gender inequality and female empowerment, designers have also begun to explore the malleability of genders.
The exhibit features gender-bending male clothing by fashion house Palomo Spain.
There’s also a line of gender-neutral clothing by New York-based fashion designer Telfar Clemens.
“He’s been working sort of under the radar for quite a while,” says Chen.
“And it’s only recently that he’s been sort of acknowledged for his line that’s sort of gender-neutral or gender ambiguous, under the rubric of; ‘It’s not for you, it’s for everyone.’ And I think that is the ethos he follows.”
Pevious editions of the annual design competition have been dominated by high-tech creations, from driverless cars, to smartphone apps and gadgets.
This year’s selection is much less tech driven. Designers, Chen says, are working in the here and now.
“A lot of the things that we’re so obsessed with – driverless cars, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things etc. etc. – these were all imagined 50, 100 years ago,” he says.
“So, in many ways, what we’re doing now is we are working towards realising the future as the past imagined it.
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