Seriously funny: Designing Critical Design Show

Three of our favourite European designers have been invited by the Z33 art centre in Hasselt, Belgium to Design Critical Design. None less than Martì Guixé, Jürgen Bey and Fiona Raby & Anthony Dunne, who have become (in the same order) an ex-designer, a curious researching analyst and a creative debate team for emerging technologies, are taking part in this exhibition. The work on show until June 3rd reflects a healthy criticism towards mainstream design as well as questions the invited designers and ex-designers ask about the technological, social and ethical side of design. Early work is on show but each designer has been asked to Design a new piece of Critical Design. You could argue that their designs are by no means the most eco-friendly ones when it comes to production or material choices but the messages they carry are strong and make you think twice about what you eat or what chair you buy next.
Guixé is big on product service system (PSS) design. Getting rid of the product has obvious eco advantages such as less (or no for that matter) material. His Plant Emulator Tape creates green zones which function just like plants but without them. Think about all the water you save! Large amounts of plastic or wood could be saved if we all had one of his Designer Tattoos ( a tattooed ruler on the finger)! Finally we have the Stop Discrimination of Cheap Furniture chair which states its point.
Bey, who explores more the material side of things, is the designer behind the ears of the Oorstoel chair, creating intimate spaces. Elastic synthetic fibre might not be so environmentally sound but they are definitely re-vamping old furniture and turning them into a very long lasting Cocoon Family. Much greener is his Tea Garden made from bags filled with garden soil. This eliminates the need for garden benches and flowerpots: You sit on them and grow herbs through holes in the packaging. And last but not least there’s the brilliant Vacuum Bag Furniture. You read correctly: The sofa-shaped vacuum bags collect the dust which becomes the filling for your furniture...
Dunne & Raby are all about protecting you from electromagnetic fields. Under the theme Hertzian Tales, a few of such shielding object are the Faraday Chair shelter, the Thief of Affection that ‘steals radio signals from cardiac pacemakers’ (quote from WeMakeMoneyNotArt) Protective Knickers and the PerCushion which is a cushion that lights up when frequencies become stronger and gives of warning signals. Oh, and in case you are scared about nuclear annihilation, Dunne & Raby came up with the Huggable Atomic Mushroom, a quite cute and snugly toy that is meant to provide psychiatric help…
Ok, by now you probably have got the tomatoes ready to through my way but hey! Let’s make some space for our sense of humour. Even if these objects aren’t prime example of eco design, nor are they trying to be, their criticism to mainstream design has managed to address current social and ethical design issues in a seriously fun manner.
A shame the exhibition is not touring but if you are in Belgium this week, make sure you don’t miss the talk by the curator and designers on May 7th at Z33. ::via WorldChanging ::Z33

Tags: Belgium | Ethical