“Design Transfigured/Waste Reimagined” is the first exhibition to recognize designers’ bold and inventive responses to the current state of our environment through designs that reimagine discarded materials and waste into handsome and useful products. The exhibition features 30 international designers and studios from Asia, Latin America, and Europe.
“We love it when we notice significant trends or movements in both art and design,” said exhibition curators Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox of c2-curatorsquared in a joint statement. “Often, one precedes the other, but typically the artist approaches themes more conceptually and the designer must find a function or use for their interpretation. Interestingly, however, in the case of ‘Design Transfigured/Waste Reimagined,’ the designs are both conceptual approaches as well as potential and/or actual products ready for the market. In the face of climate change, the more creative minds behind solutions, the better.”
An exhibition like this provides audiences with new ways of thinking about design, the life of products and how everything becomes a form of refuse. Waste is overtaking natural resources, but these exhibiting designers consider it a resource to reclaim and radically transform into useful products. The question the designers are examining is: How can waste be turned back into something useful instead of making more garbage?
Sourced from polluted air, land and water; from the by-products of manufacturing, mining, agriculture and aquaculture; or from food and human waste, these products on display transfigure waste into building materials, home furnishings and fashion accessories.
“Working at the forefront of design, these labs and studios are making bold moves to rethink the life of a product and its material — from design to production to disposal,” explained Lauren R. O’Connell, SMoCA assistant curator. “By bringing this exhibition to Scottsdale, it allows us to open a dialogue between the international designers on view with the innovative designers and thinkers here in the Phoenix area.”
SMoCA is collaborating with the Center for Philosophical Technologies — a strategic initiative of Arizona State University and a global hub for critical and speculative research on philosophy, technology, and design — on a series of programs in conjunction with the exhibition. The two public events will include international designers Jesper Eriksson (Sweden), Agne Kucerenkaite (the Netherlands), Wendy Plomp (the Netherlands), Kevin Rouff (United States/United Kingdom), Remco van de Craats (the Netherlands) and Kirstie van Noort (the Netherlands). For more information on these events and tickets, visit this page.
Additionally, presenting this exhibition at SMoCA allows the community to contribute and continue a conversation in multiple places. The Museum has previously traveled two of c2- curatorsquared’s exhibitions, beginning in 2007.
“Traveling an exhibition from another institution is one way to provide our audience with access to the new ideas and artworks, organized by curators whose research can take many years to develop into one exhibition,” O’Connell said. “In this case, Judy Hoos Fox and Ginger Gregg Duggan are curators whose cutting-edge perspective on design in our contemporary culture is exceptional. Exhibitions like ‘Design Transfigured/Waste Reimagined’ support the mission of SMoCA to show contemporary art, design, and architecture and engage those communities. Design exhibitions look at more than the object to reveal the process of design thinking and present cutting-edge ideas.’”
Studio Agne works with raw materials that are transformed into useful products that serve human well being and sustainability. The work is often based on historical and sociocultural research. Projects that Agne Studio has worked on in the past include ceramic tiles colored only with raw waste material from industrial metal. The tiles can be commissioned by companies wishing to use them in their buildings, like Jordy’s Bakery in Rotterdam.
Architects of Identity use a multidisciplinary approach to their designs so that all aspects of “identity” can be integrated into their projects. While they started out as a graphic design studio, they now have specialized project teams covering many areas of design. For instance, their project ‘Thermodynamics’ project focuses on how excess energy can be converted into natural objects with a unique design.
Simón Ballen is interested in material culture and the identity of design; what objects mean in a specific context. He views design as something that preserves and celebrates “diversity, the people and stories behind the making of things.” Simón recently graduated from the department of Man and Well Being at Design Academy Eindhoven with a research project about Gold in regards to the Colombian heritage, history and identity.
Dutch Invertuals is a group of designers who all base their design on themes derived from contemporary issues, such as overpopulation and consumerism. In recent years, Dutch Invertuals have had many exhibitions on a range of topics.
Andrea Trimarchi (1983) and Simone Farresin (1980) are Studio Formafantasma, an Italian designers duo based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They are focused on product design and explore issues such as the relationship between tradition and local culture, critical approaches to sustainability and the significance of objects as cultural conduits.
Liselore Frowijn graduated ArtEZ Institute of the Arts as a fashion designer and worked as a freelance fashion designer developing seasonal collections. However, Liselore soon found that there was a lack of sustainability in the traditional fashion system and started her own conscious brand FROWIJN. As mentioned above, she recently worked on creating a metallic material made from pineapple detritus.
Fransje Gimbrère is a multidisciplinary designer who graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven with a focus on Man & Identity. Her project “Standing Textile(s)” questions the use of textile in textiles in interiors and shows a different way to approach textile in the exterior.
Studio Nienke Hoogvliet consists of Nienke Hoogvliet, who has a background in Lifestyle & Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy and Tim Jongerius, who graduated in Architecture at the Delft University of Technology. Studio Hoogvliet works on projects for various companies, as well as on their own research projects. Thye are focused on materials and design that can contribute to a more holistic world. One of Studio Nienke Hoogvliet’s recent projects focused on using fish leather made from waste in the fishing industry as a substitute for regular leather.
Dirk van der Kooij’s designs are innovative and functional. He uses traditional craft in combination with technology in the form of digital robot techniques to create his designs. Dirk van der Kooij is especially focused on the design of unique furniture.
Kelly Maj Gijssen is a product designer with with an affinity for colorful and graphic textiles.
Christien Meindertsma thoroughly explores the life of products and raw materials in her work.
Kirstie van Noort graduated the Design Academy of Eindhoven in 2011. She started her own studio in Eindhoven in 2012 and has participated in many exhibitions and research projects. Many of her projects include ceramics. She is currently working as a material researcher for companies.
Studio Daan Roosegaarde is a social design lab focused on environmental sustainability. Daan Roosegaarde’s team connects people and technology to improve daily life in urban environments and spark imagination.
Studio Vij5 was set up by Arjan van Raadshooven and Anieke Branderhorst. Together with other designers, they create designs that are functional and have a minimalist aesthetic. Mieke Meijer, Floris Hovers, and Studio rENs are all part of the Studio Vij5 collective.