Last week’s Earth Day reminded us that there are few matters that are as urgent and in need of our attention than those related to the issue of climate change. We are excited to share that sustainable design is tackling these issues head on with the return of ECO Solidarity, a groundbreaking international initiative that unites eight institutions and eight designers behind the goal of addressing our most dire humanitarian and public health crises through human-centered design. The project will launch at CLOSEUP, ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan’s joint trade event running May 17-18, 2021. ECO Solidarity will be presented on May 18th in two 45-minute sessions where the designers will showcase their work followed by panel discussions. The first session is titled Design with Empathy: Public Spaces and Social Impact (10:15 AM ET to 10:55 AM ET), and will feature AHA Objects, Atelier Ad Hoc, EOOS NEXT, and Herrmann & Coufal. The second session is titled Sustainable Material and Process: Research and Innovation (11:00 AM ET to 11:40 AM ET), and will feature Algaeing, Livable, NAS-DRA Conscious Design, and Studio Plastique. ECO Solidarity will also be featured at WantedDesign NYC’s expanded online exhibition running June 15 – August 15, 2021. It’s not hyperbole to say that the world is running on borrowed time, and we need to make significant changes in order to preserve a livable planet for future generations.
ECO Solidarity was created by the Polish Cultural Institute New York and Studio Rygalik in partnership with WantedDesign in 2020. In this year’s second edition, eight forward-thinking designers have partnered a global institution from their respective countries to create sustainable design solutions focusing on ecology, climate change, public health and well-being, and the socio-economic impacts on these changes.
These featured designers are: Lotte Kristoferitsch of EOOS NEXT, selected by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber/Creative Industries and the Vienna Business Agency; Sep Verboom of Livable, selected by the Delegation of Flanders to the USA; Theresa Bastek and Archibald Godts of Studio Plastique, selected by Wallonie-Bruxelles International New York; Eduard Herrmann and Matěj Coufal of Herrmann & Coufal, selected by The Czech Center; Renana Krebs and Gal Abelson of Algaeing, selected by the Goethe-Institut New York; Anna Horvath of AHA Objects, selected by the Arts Council Malta in New York; Paulina Grabowska of NAS-DRA Conscious Design, selected by the Polish Cultural Institute New York; and George Marinescu and Maria Daria Oancea of Atelier Ad Hoc, selected by the Romanian Cultural Institute New York.
Studio NAS-DRA Conscious Design investigates and designs circular economy schemes, climate change mitigation processes, bioelectronics, and urban farms. By having a holistic approach in each of their projects, they are looking for interconnections and interdependencies between ecology, health, industries, businesses, phenomenons, and art.
Open Design Mould by EOOS Next enables local craftsmen to produce a urine-separating squat toilet. Urine separation reduces nitrogen in aquatic systems and prevents eutrophication. It improves sanitary conditions and prevents pathogen outbreaks, thus contributing to environment protection and public health.
Herrmann & Coufal’s project highlights the benefits of the DIY phenomenon for both individuals and society and brings a human element into the process, creating a shared experience. The making becomes an integral part of the final product, showing users hidden ideas and fostering their appreciation.
Studio Plastique combines imaginative scenarios and critical reflections with in-depth investigations of complex material supply chains and technological infrastructures. The studio builds up networks of collaboration around significant themes for contemporary society, strategically positioning the role of the designer in an evolving landscape of industry, culture, and human experience.
There are also eight field experts nominated by each participating institution that will make up the show’s Advisory Committee, which includes: Martina Fineder (Austria); Axel Clissen (Belgium/Flanders); Giovanna Massoni (Belgium/Wallonie-Bruxelles); Danica Kovářová (Czech Republic); Dunja Karabaic (Germany); Dr. Jevon Vella (Malta); Ewa Bińczyk (Poland); and Adriana Blidaru (Romania); along with special advisor Tomek Rygalik.
The name ECO Solidarity is actually inspired by Solidarity, a social and political movement which united displaced communities and various disciplines in a common cause. It led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union and set the nations on a course toward democracy. Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the Solidarity formation (in Polish, Solidarność).
The coming together of these different countries, designers, and institutions is tremendous as we have already seen this past year what the world can do when it puts its differences aside, prioritizes its most pressing issues, and unite behind a single goal. To have ECO Solidarity launch at CLOSEUP is exemplary of how committed WantedDesign is towards promoting active change in issues relating to sustainability and the circular economy. WantedDesign founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat shares further:
The ECO Solidarity project emphasizes the common thread between sustainability and people. It is a priority for WantedDesign to continue the conversation around why we should all care, and how design is one of the answers to the current issues humans face, to reconcile with a more sustainable, conscious and harmonious way of living. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring eight European countries and regions together for the ECO Solidarity project at CLOSEUP in May and the WantedDesign Online Exhibit in June.