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Central Saint Martins

Designing in Turbulent Times

Written by Kathryn Lloyd
Published date 19 September 2019

Last night, we hosted our Private View of Designing in Turbulent Times as part of London Design Festival. Showcasing the work of 28 recent Central Saint Martins graduates, the exhibition offers compelling and disruptive propositions for more sustainable futures.

Yesterday, Central Saint Martins joined a host of local organisations in celebrating the inaugural King's Cross Design District for London Design Festival, opening its doors to the public for a late night opening of Designing in Turbulent Times. Currently on show in the College's Lethaby gallery, the exhibition is a collaboration between Central Saint Martins, LVMH and Maison/0.

Faced with increasingly urgent social and environmental pressures, creativity can be a powerful agent for innovation and transformation. Across a wide range of design disciplines, the exhibition showcases a selection of the best of our recent graduate projects in sustainable innovation. Fittingly, the exhibition opens in the week that University of the Arts London released their response to the climate emergency. UAL has outlined its plan to use its leadership in human-centred research, teaching and knowledge exchange to influence the creation of a sustainable future for all. To lead the response, the University has appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of Central Saint Martins Jeremy Till. Speaking at the Private View last night, Till said:

"This exhibition is particularly timely this week because UAL has made a clear statement about climate emergency. Why I think we are on to something very strong here is that we can back up the statement, which is a set of words, with evidence. The evidence is here in the room this evening of how our students are dealing with design in turbulent times...UAL is in a brilliant and unique position to address the issues of climate emergency. An institution like this can imagine new futures. It's not about polishing or refining the current system. It's about imagining new systems – new social behaviours, social structures, new ways of living together."

Designing in Turbulent Times is based on the annual Maison/0 Green Trail which celebrates the best of sustainable projects in our design Degree Show as nominated by the course teams. Created in 2017, Maison/0 is our sustainable innovation programme created in partnership with the luxury group LVMH. Its Director, Professor Carole Collet, also spoke at last night's event about the curatorial and production ethos of the show:

"We are here tonight to celebrate 28 incredible minds, 28 incredible makers. But not only did we want to showcase the best of sustainable design, we also wanted to produce a sustainable exhibition."

Throughout the making of Designing in Turbulent Times, co-curators Collet and Kate Keara Pelen have integrated sustainable values into their decision-making. The show is plastic-free with zero waste and all furniture has been designed to be reused. The materials, products and suppliers have been selected to reduce impact on the environment – from the timber choices to vegan paint and the use of screen-printed signage in place of plastic-based vinyl lettering.

The final speech of the evening was delivered by Alexandre Capelli, LVMH Group Environmental Senior Officer, ending on the optimism of our graduates' ingenuity:

"I would really like to thank the students because without you we are nothing. We entrust you to design and develop a more sustainable future and we can see that here tonight."

The projects in the exhibition are grouped into six themes: Designing for Biodiversity, Designing Alternatives, Designing with Time, Designing with Communities, Designing for Conversation and Designing with Abundance. During the exhibition run, we will be looking more closely at the projects in each theme and talking to our exhibiting graduates.

Designing in Turbulent Times is on view in the Lethaby Gallery until 27 October.

Fabric construction laid over female body
Waste Not | Want Not, Alicia Rowbotham (BA Textile Design)

Designing in Turbulent Times

Visit the exhibition in the Lethaby Gallery

Artwork by Katherine Gould

Sustainability at UAL

Read about sustainability at UAL