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Designers ‘make the difference’ with sustainable design in Stedelijk


Photo: ANP

Using sustainable materials can make a big difference in the climate crisis. Designers and companies from all over the world show this in eighty projects in the new exhibition ‘It’s Our F***ing Backyard. Designing Material Futures’ that opens on Thursday at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. This concerns both very experimental designs that are still in the future, but also objects that are already in the shops.

Conservators Amanda Pinatih and Ingeborg de Roode have wanted to do something with “one of the biggest problems in the world” for some time now. “You notice that we now live in the era in which the destructive influence of man is very tangible. Not only far from your bed, but also here last summer with the flooding in Limburg. It is coming closer.” Although there have been exhibitions on this theme before, according to Pinatih, it was never so explicit about the use of materials.

And that is precisely how you can make a big impact, believes De Roode. “Of course, CO2 emissions are often also caused by the production of objects and, for example, transport. Designers can come up with very smart solutions for that.” They are also well aware of this, she says. “Everyone is working on that.”

The exhibition shows how new products can be made through reuse or less harmful substances. For example, Claudy Jongstra has used medieval natural paint recipes for Viktor & Rolf and Maartje Dros and Erik Klarenbeek are experimenting with microalgae that they use to make glass. Designer duo Drift dissected a 1980 Volkswagen Beetle and shows exactly how much material it is made of in cubes. There is also a chair by the Balinese design studio Space Available and DJ Peggy Gou, made from 20 kilos of plastic waste from Indonesia.

Other exhibits in the museum include a carpet made of pine needles, an orange peel lamp, a hemp scooter, a horse dung chair, jewelry and sunglasses made from ocean plastic, and a table and crockery made from cow’s blood.

The exhibition, which can be seen until September 4, will feature all kinds of disciplines in the field of design; from architecture to fashion, product design, but also means of transport. “Precisely to show that it is now very broad,” says De Roode. “Visitors can see that all kinds of new things are being devised, but that as a consumer you can already make choices yourself.”

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