This February, we started our Art Intervention series in Amsterdam with a masterclass program. For four days, a group of fourteen designers and artists came together in an Amsterdam canal house to learn and discuss about sustainability and design (check all the cultural players here). Our generous host – the Natural Capital Coalition – provided us with a meeting space in the Groene Bocht, which is an office space for sustainable companies varying from architects and a law firm, to a salad bar franchise and a magazine about green and conscious living. A great place to start our journey!
For the Art Intervention week, we created a program bringing together themes such as economy, design, compassion, biomimicry, reuse, toxicology and philosophy to approach the idea of sustainability from very different angles. We wanted to inform, inspire and provoke the status quo.
The main question we posed at the beginning of the week to everyone was to think about ‘How can you, as an artist or designer, change the world (in a sustainable way)?’ This is of course a big question, with as many possible answers as you can actually think of. It has been (and will be) a very personal journey for everyone. But exiting things are already happening.
For the coming weeks we will be collecting all the ideas and answers of the group and start framing an exhibition for the Munich event coming June (more info soon!). We will, of course, keep you updated, but firstsome pictures of the event to give you some impression.
We kicked the Art Intervention off with a lecture from Pieter van der Gaag, Executive Director of the Natural Capital Coalition. He talked to us about the big trends in global sustainability and explained how the NCC is working with multinationals to value their use of the commons and incorporate it in their pricing models so they can give back for what they take from the earth.
For the afternoon session, designer and founder of Studio Sattelit Alexandra Weigand, provides us with insight into her research and discussed her visions for design and sustainability for the 21st century. Alexandra presented current design trends and showed us how the latest research, new technologies and production methods can be used for designing a sustainable future.
When your design is your responsibility, how do you then makes choices in your life and work? And what is the role of (self-) compassion? The second day, we had to get to work immediately! In her workshop ‘Compassion in Design’ Saša Kerkoš challenged us to get to know each other (and ourselves) with a series of exercises.
Self-proclaimed garbage architect Denis Oudendijk presented his work with Refunc and we discussed how you can work with discarded materials en products to create site-specific interventions. “Wherever you can find garbage, we do research and workshops on creative re-use, as recycling is not the answer to the questions of life, the universe and everything”.
The third day we started with a workshop about toxicology to open everyone’s eyes when it comes to the materials and productions processes we all work with. For the afternoon we invited Willa Stoutenbeek of W.Green, Tom van de Beek from a.o. I Love Beeing and Ludo Hekman from Butch and Sundance for an inspiring discussion. They combine entrepreneurship with social issues, sustainability and all want to contribute to creating a better world. We discussed ethics & aesthetics, providing the better alternative, and the shortcuts and long processes of behavioural change towards awareness and sustainable living.
On day four, we invited the inspiring textile designer Aniela Hoitink from Neffa (http://neffa.nl/) to discuss her work and the concepts from which she works. She uses biomimicry, new technologies and natural processes in her research and works towards products that create more awareness or even smart solutions to wicked problems.
And of course, we left the biggest challenge to create a grand finale of the week. Environmental philosopher Floris van den Berg challenged our thinking about the world, our identity, our moral circle, identity, eating meat, and our personal choices in his philosophical journey through his concept of universal subjectivism. It takes into consideration the universal capacity for suffering and, through raising awareness, seeks to diminish that suffering and increase happiness. With consistent and compelling moral reasoning, Van den Berg showed us that the world can be organized to ensure more pleasure, beauty, justice, happiness, health, freedom, animal welfare, and sustainability. We are still discussing this one!