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Waste Age: What can design do?

Materialism - Volkswagen Beetle, DRIFT

We are living in the age of waste. Is design the answer to leaving our throwaway culture behind?

We all know waste is a big problem. So how are we going to fix it? In this 2021 exhibition, the Design Museum invited a new generation of designers to rethink our relationship to everyday things. 

From fashion to food, electronics to construction, even packaging – finding the lost value in our trash and imagining a future of clean materials and a circular economy could point the way out of the Waste Age. 

 Visitors were invited to explore major new exhibits that captured the devastating impact of waste including a large-scale art installation by Ibrahim Mahama made from e-waste in Ghana. 

Bottle top chain, Cornish Plastics Pollution Coalition
Sequin dress, Charlotte McCurdy and Phillip Lim

 'We must face the problem of waste – we can no longer ignore what happens to things when we get rid of them. Instead of thinking of objects as things that have an end life, they can have many lives. This is not just an exhibition it is a campaign, and we all have an active part in our future.' Gemma Curtin, Curator.

The exhibition showcased some of the visionary designers who are reinventing our relationship with waste, including Formafantasma, Stella McCartney, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Lacaton & Vassal, Fernando Laposse, Bethany Williams, Phoebe English and Natsai Audrey Chieza. 

Future Observatory was launched alongside the Design Museum’s Waste Age exhibition and COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.

Find out more: Waste Age at Cité des sciences et de l’industrie, Paris

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