“How do our actions contribute to the better?”

Interview with Simon Angel, Curator of the Sustainable Innovations Forum

18. January 2023

What is currently happening in the industry of innovators, transformers and forwardthinkers?

Different developments can be observed especially when it comes to upcoming designers and creators, which is very interesting yet inspiring. Newcomers are about either entering the industry or creating their own one; furthermore, they all developed a very high professionalism in everything they do and how they present their ideas. Storytelling matters, that’s why we see crafts that concern and that communicate about thoughts, materials and backgrounds. They somehow reflect on the state of the industry and/or they question current systems. Just with the eye on possibilities, not to add critique. It is a friendly way to inspire.

You just said creators are “entering the industry or creating their own one”. What do you mean by that?

Well, actually right as I say. Either people and ideas enter an industry OR they create an industry. Entering means that designers or creators just fit into an industry and can get part of it or they can develop their own techniques and make it scalable and somehow create their own. Let me give you an example: WINT Design Lab discovered a new material and also discovered how to use it in order to make it relevant for the market. Either they can enter the industry OR if they find possibilities to cover all the needs within the supply chain and develop the machines to produce in a big scale, they could go big and just create their own industry.

Simon Angel

What other developments can you identify?

Back in the days, let’s say about five years ago, there was mainly one person behind a new idea that was working within a tiny studio. Compared to that, everything is so much more professional: being a material designer, you can have a studio and work with employees who assist. That is nowadays how designers get ready to present their idea to the market. You need people who bridge the gap between the studio and the market. I personally recognize a huge potential in this point of professionalism, because people get ready to connect – young designers now offer representative samples and get in touch with the industry on a very professional level. Newcomers inspire the industry.

What sounds very interesting. What do the newcomers do differently?

Things that impress the industry: crafts that concern and communicate. The designers and their innovations want to tell us stories: it’s about the material, systems (and old behaviours) but also the designs. We can get glimpses into cultural backgrounds, different techniques, social aspects and so much more. For example, the project “Rootful” by Zena Holloway and the project “Choub” by Mehdi Mashayekhi show off how to create a material out of seagrass or wood with the implemented idea to use the finished garment or the designs as tools to communicate.

That’s a positive development, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. But one thing should not be forgotten: we are in the middle of a delicate discussion on the urgency of creating, within that everybody has to
put their own position into a fresh perspective. I sometimes find it important to take a bit of a distance and ask rhetorically questions like: So what? We are
leaving the era of RE-thinking we are entering an era of PRE-thinking. We can challenge ourselves in critical self-reflection with a future smile.

We should not design just to be a designer or cook just for the sake of being a chef. We should not create just to be a creator. We should not just buy new stuff, only for the sake of being a consumer. Way more, we should cook when people need food, design when designs are not good enough and create when the world needs a new product. Let’s stay critical and ask ourselves over and over again: how do our actions contribute to the better?



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