Soot and sawdust. Fungus and cellulose. All over the world, an emerging generation of designers and makers are rethinking raw materials and presenting radical solutions to the challenges of designing in the modern world. From dwindling planetary resources to a prevalent ‘take-make-discard’ model of consumption, design has helped nurture the seeds of environmental destruction, creating unprecedented levels of waste and new forms of material scarcity. In response to these challenges, designers, scientists and makers are creating original solutions and possibilities: pioneering new technologies, crossing disciplines, promoting collaboration and seeing opportunities for new and exciting making materials where their predecessors saw only waste.
For over 13 years, Caroline Till and Kate Franklin have been exploring the role of the designer and maker in shaping the sustainable future of the material world. This year, their research culminated in the new book Radical Matter (published by Thames and Hudson), a wide-ranging compendium of the experimental approaches, new materials and revolutionary thinkers that are re-writing design convention and creating a blueprint for a new model of production and consumption.
Caroline Till is co-founder of FranklinTill and co-author of Radical Matter: Rethinking Materials For a Sustainable Future published by Thames & Hudson. Previously directing the Material Futures course at Central Saint Martins, Caroline’s expertise is routed in sustainable design practices, design innovation and future materials.
James Shaw is a graduate of the Royal College of Art and now runs a studio in South London specialising in the design and manufacture of furniture, products, and sculptural objects with a focus on material research. His work is in the permanent collections of MoMA, The Montreal Museum of Art and the Vitra Design Museum among others.
Sanne Visser is a Dutch designer interested in material innovation, sustainability and future thinking. A material explorer, researcher and maker, she graduated from Material Futures at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Visser is most recognised for her latest project ‘The New Age of Trichology’, where she developed a closed-loop system to recycle human hair waste and turn it into yarn, ropes and other utilitarian products.
Yesenia Thibault-Picazo is a French-born multidisciplinary designer and musician. Yesenia trained in Duperré School (Paris, 2011) and holds an MA Material Futures from Central Saint Martins (London, 2013). Defining herself as a 'Material Teller', Yesenia explores the narrative potential of materials. Her work is situated at the junction between craft practices and environmental concerns. It is informed by interdisciplinary collaborations with experts such as anthropologists, geologists as much as fellow artists and artisans. She uses fiction and design as a powerful tool of investigation for understanding how we inhabit the world.