In this last round of exhibitor highlights at the Certosa Initiative, an unmistakable trend bears special attention. “Speaking as an art director, from my conversations with designers and exhibitors, I notice the increased reflection manifest in the use of certain materials, or how we consume energy, or recycled products. This is a trend that was already taking shape pre-pandemic, but it certainly has gained momentum. The urge to act is much greater, and so is the urgency.”, says Certosa Initiative co-founder Margriet Vollenberg
Remi Versteeg, co-founder of the Certosa Initiative but architect in his daily life, can confirm from practice: “Sustainability, the role designers play in shaping our future, has become a primary concern in both our architecture and in the products Beyond Space’s Research & Development department spins out, some of which you’ll also get to meet at the Certosa Initiative. We pay special attention to the materials we use, what we bring into the world, and how we take it out again: recycling and re-using are top priorities.”
Abigail Kuohn Studio
Take for instance Abigail Kuohn Studio’s project ‘Immaterial Objects’, which asks: What if we could reframe our view of permanent objects and instead think of design in a temporary sense? Its answer comes in a 100% biodegradable approach to traditional plastics. Says Kuohn: “We live in a world with ever changing tastes, why not design for that while serving the planet? Biodegradable furniture made from natural materials helps solve these issues simultaneously. I’m motivated to rethink traditional ways of approaching design both functionally and sustainably.” She adds: “Furniture design holds attention that could have ripple effects outside the industry.”
Svartbysvart & Minuit
Swedish/Finnish but Iceland-based designer Svartbysvart has teamed up with French artist Minuit for a striking collection of wearable items created from fishing equipment destined for the trash. Clothing, accessories and artworks intricately hand made from thousands of strands of fishing cords, nets and ropes recovered from the Icelandic shoreline, making a statement against ocean pollution, while displaying a unique way of re-purposing fishing debris and otherwise harmful objects. Say the duo: “As designers we have the responsibility to use our creativity to pursue a cleaner, less polluted future, doing everything we can to minimise our environmental impact. Iceland is one of the cleanest places on earth, but we need to work on keeping it this way for the future as well.”
The Boring Collection
The return of a familiar face: The Boring Collection was celebrated with the Milan Design Award in 2018, and has not stopped innovating since. At the Certosa Initiative, this joint project of Beyond Space and Lensvelt, returns to show off new products and partnerships: a collab with Forbo brings Boring Grey to CO2 neutral marmoleum flooring; for carpet tiles, Boring teamed up with Tarkett; while Dataflex added monitor arms to deck out already Boring desks. Most importantly, Boring brings their take on the tape dispenser, the hole puncher, and of course, pride and joy of any office worker: the stapler. Small improvements can make a world of difference.
The devil is in the details. Many architects and interior designers have seen their perfectly balanced designs retroactively pockmarked by smoke detectors, ventilation valves, slow whoops, and other installation components. Need (Non-Eminent Essential Devices) offers a collection of smart design innovations to remedy this aesthetic pain, disguising various functions in a single, visually non-obstructive shape. The clean shells of each product can be finished in almost any color or material to perfectly blend into your interior design. Need, too, is designed for sustainability. Says product developer Seroj de Graaf: “All parts are made of recycled and single materials. They’re assembled as simply as possible, allowing us to restore, re-use, and recycle each product. Combined with our return program, we reduce electrical waste and can become the first cradle-to-cradle manufacturer in this market in the future.”
MaterialDistrict, a match-making platform in the field of innovative materials, bring a 120 innovative and sustainable materials to the Certosa Initiative, all selected especially for the occasion. “Everything within spatial design is made of materials,” says director Jeroen van Oostveen, “There is a lot to be gained in this field by switching to sustainable materials.” MaterialDistrict’s exhibition Material Mingling Milan shows various materials made of what is generally regarded as waste, made of renewable sources, and/or are optimised for recycling at the end of life, while also celebrating that we can mingle again to experience the materials with all the senses.
Sustainability is threaded into the fabric of Addictlab, a creative think tank founded in 1997 by Jan van Mol. His desire to share ideas and innovate in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals amongst others resulted n the publication of SDGzine. Both in hard copy and online, the zine showcases SDG best practices and is on display at the Certosa Initiative. Van Mol also brings his ‘Egg Shell-ter’, a larger-than-life-size egg shell out of cardboard and wood that evokes intimacy and safety. A premiere at Certosa Initiative: a bamboo edition!
Mark Balint & Julius Bentele
Interdisciplinary designers Mark Balint & Julius Bentele have teamed up to bring an installation to the Certosa Initiative that ponders questions of space, public, private, physical and digital. Named ‘Kompressor’, the installation in which the viewer is encircled by angled mirrors reflects subjective location and provides only fragmented information about the compositionof space. “As an urban tool,” comments Balint, “kompressor is a space to reconnect, calibrate and breathe.”
And there is more: see the site.
Image © Svartbysvart x Minuit