Recap seminar 'Designing the Future'

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Recap seminar 'Designing the Future'

Last Thursday, 21 May 2015, over 260 people gathered in Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam for our Strawberry Earth Academy seminar 'Designing the Future'. Wait, did somebody turn water into fire? No, but Eric Klarenbeek was there to talk about his chair made out of fungi which is basically the same kind of magic. Eric, and the 18 other Strawberry Earth Academy fellows were all present during our first Strawberry Earth Academy seminar. Plus José Teunissen (Professor in fashion theory at ArtEZ) and William Myers (writer 'BioDesign' 2012, curator, teacher) held keynote presentations. Ikenna Azuike (co-founder Strawberry Earth and presenter of 'What's up Africa' at the BBC/RNW) hosted the evening. Here's a recap of this night about positive change within the fashion and design industry. An evening that proved change is already happening.

José Teunissen

As a professor in Fashion Theory art ArtEZ, José Teunissen knows exactly what fashion is (“the belief you can start over. Every moment.") and what the issues are we have to deal with. “Catwalks used to be our main inspiration. But in the 90's, fashion changed into fast fashion. Because of the internet, pictures of shows immediately spread over the world. Copies were in stores sooner than the original pieces." José also presented some shocking fashion facts: 1/3 goes for the retail price, 1/3 in sale and 1/3 to waste. OK, we screwed up. But what are our opportunities? José: “Digitalisation offers young designers the possibility to step out and do things differently. Embrace technology." Like Pauline van Dongen with her solar dress. Next, she showed the works of Aliki van der Kruijs and Viktoria Ledig. “We are all longing for craftsmanship again. A connection with reality. In the leather bags of Ledig you can still find the animal. And the scarfs by Van der Kruijs are literally made by rain. The story of such a product is related to the product itself." One last advice from José to all connaisseurs out there: “be a responsible designer." Point taken.

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William Myers

Next up was William Myers, writer of the book BioDesign (2012). His book was published by The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMa) and Thames & Hudson in London. Not bad, for a first book. Biodesign, or 'designing with living organisms', may sound like something people came up during a brainstorm in organic sourdough bakeries, but Myers proved us wrong. “Biodesign goes way back. The root bridges of Meghalaya are grown from the roots of rubber trees. The stresses of use and weather can strengthen them over time, allowing them to last for hundreds of years." Myers also showed us biospheres in urban landscapes, such as the vertical forest by Stefano Boeri. Other projects Myers clicked through were the Mush-lume lamp (hurrah for more masters of mushrooms!) and Farm 432: a home fly farm that produces 2.6 kilograms of meat in 18 days. That's a whole lot of proteins! If you're eager to start bio-designing, “start with something small." One of the most simple solutions is to clean the air with plants instead of using ventilation systems. Myers: “it saves energy and makes spaces more beautiful." William ended his talk with a few words we'd like to put on our refrigerator: “see the biosphere as bursting with opportunities and preserve it."

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Strawberry Earth Academy fellows

In between all presentations, the Strawberry Earth Academy fashion and design fellows gave a little sneak peak on what they've been working on the past few months. The group of OAT Shoes promised “they will accelerate a transition to a more sustainable industry in a fabulous way" while team Weltevree & Co were 'rethinking the chain'. The Waarmakers (product designers) combined “product design with fashion" together with L'Herbe Rouge and has their first prototypes ready. All fellows used their different approaches to learn from one another. Team KOI: “the Academy is a great opportunity to create new things with people who share the same values. Our group is very diverse, and wants to create a material just as diverse. An alternative for the unsustainable cotton that can be used in product design, furniture, art and fashion."

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Simon Akkaya (Waarmakers) and Ikenna Azuike ('What's up Africa, BBC/RNW)

The class of 2015 will reveal their outcomes during our yearly Strawberry Earth Fair on Saturday, 10 October 2015. This day is the 'National Day of Sustainability' in The Netherlands. We can't wait!

Partners Strawberry Earth Academy

Partners of the Strawberry Earth Academy are the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, DOEN Foundation, ASN Bank, CREM, IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), Wageningen UR and the NIOO (Netherlands Institute of Ecology).

Check out a selection of photo's of our seminar in this Facebook folder on Facebook.

Photography: Willem de Kam