London College of Communication’’s annual Green Week is a programme of events exploring how designers, filmmakers, journalists, photographers and communicators are responding to the most important environmental and social issues of our time.
For students on LCC’s BA (Hons) Design Cultures course it’s an important opportunity to network with leading thinkers pushing the boundaries of ethical and social design.
Student Lena Neilsen, from Denmark, describes her experience of a Dark City workshop hosted by Eva Knutz and Thomas Markussen from Kolding School of Design, Denmark, which asked participants to design solutions for dystopian fictional futures.
Dark City, Utopia or Dystopia?
All sources of fossil energy have run out. Wind and water energy are no longer available. Students at LCC were challenged to create alternative energy sources. This is Dark City.
Setting off the workshop, all participants had to write down a memory. A memory from their life, where there was no use of electricity, being closer to the basics in life, closer to nature. My memory was camping with my family as a child. Making bonfires with the other children at the camping site, sleeping in tents and playing outside all day long.
This approach to the subject made you think of a natural interaction with your own life, not using electricity and this served as a starting point for the design process.
Creating a fictive character to which we had to design a solution to his or her fictive issue, we had to consider different approaches to create sustainable energy bespoke to the characters needs.
Creating a storyline of what the characters life would look like now, in 2014, using energy resources that are available in our society and afterwards altering the storyline to fit 2050 without any forms of energy, we got a grand overview on how the lack of energy resources would affect the modern society and the character in particular.
Upon looking at the new challenges on how to lead a normal life in 2050, we brainstormed on the characters needs of energy and how we could design different solutions to meet the requirements.
How will we learn to be more innovative in creating sustainable solutions for future generations to enjoy the benefits of?
As a result of innovative thinking and debate, our design teams came up with different solutions ranging from cultivated bacteria that create energy, to an edible book that will provide you with the energy you need for a period of time and also a bicycle that generates energy using human kinetic energy to store electricity in a portable battery. was developed by the design teams.
Looking at a design issue from the design fiction platform allows you to, as a designer, to create without boundaries and think outside the box of what is possible within modern technology. In this way of working within design issues, you push boundaries of what is real and what is still embedded in a fantasy world; for now at least.
Who knows what will be possible in 10, 20, 50 years? How will we, as designers and consumers, seek out these issues and create solutions? How will we learn to be more innovative in creating sustainable solutions for future generations to enjoy the benefits of? And how will we ensure, that our planet will not be drained of all natural energy sources?
We are the future, let’s be the solution.
Words: Lena Neilsen BA (Hons) Design Cultures
Read more from Lena on her course blog: lenanielsen.myblog.arts.ac.uk