Designing Sustainable Futures

A talk explores new avenues of creating design-sustainable cultures


Vegan wool, made from pineapple heads

Busi Prafula Grace

Bangalore: What do pineapple leather, a buoy that generates crypto-currency, and street art have in common? More than we realise, according to the curators of this year’s Bengaluru byDesign, a festival that is dedicated to the public and aims to explore innovations in design.

"We're looking at how design generates behaviours and shapes our collective experiences," said founder and curator of Bengaluru byDesign, Suprita Moorthy, at a recent talk titled 'Culture makes Design; Design makes Culture' that focused on hot- topics such as education, sustainability, and community design.

Design is being used in increasingly unconventional ways as a means to bring sustainable alternatives into the public conscience. Designer and creative producer at Central Saint Martins College, Kate Pelen, presented the ideas of design students at the University of the Arts, London, ranging from leather and wool made from fruit byproducts, high-end fabrics made of recycled cassette tapes, to toiletry products packaged in soap.

These projects, which meld automation and design, are not only created keeping in mind pressing environmental concerns, but also look to positively impact disadvantaged communities. Mäel Hénaff's 'Sea Money-Maker,' for example, is a tidal-powered buoy that allows an impoverished community in the coastal village of Jaywick, England, to generate crypto-currency as a form of employment.

'Sustainable' fabric woven from old casette tapes

Closer home, organisations such as Bangalore-based Jaaga are using 'techart' installations to solve urban problems. "Bringing art into the city is a way to engage with the people, the government, and other public stakeholders," said founder Archana Prasad. Jaaga, she added, uses the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the parameters for their projects to increase awareness and provide creative spaces.

Present also at the talk were design entrepreneurs and academics who echo the Bengaluru byDesign’s 'art for all' philosophy through their bodies of work. The St+Art India Foundation, for instance, is a non-profit agency based in Delhi that works with residents of the 'art districts' in different cities "Art shouldn't be a commodity for the elite," stressed co-founder Akshat Nauriyal, "the idea is to bring communities together and instigate conversations using street art," he added.

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