TreeHugger always says that design is the key to sustainability, so we were honoured when asked to sponsor "Design for the Greater Good" at Explore Design, North America’s First Design Education Fair for Youth. Booths from schools offering design disciplines including video/game design, furniture design, architecture, industrial design, textile design, fashion design, interior design, and graphic design were mobbed with high school kids playing with computers, watching fabbers in the Umbra booth, and taking in presentations. Up first on the TreeHugger slate was Architect/ professor/ artist Philip Beesley.
Philip is our model for the architect of the future- he works with the best digital fabrication (fabbing) tools in the world to develop a digital practice of architecture, where he designs and tests, then fabricates his building components. While there are lots of architects around who are more obviously "green", we have been preoccupied with the promise of digital design as a method of building lighter, more efficient structures with less waste. Kids don't usually think of architects getting to play with such toys, but if we are going to make buildings where we can really achieve modelled performance in the field, we are going to have to build them with this kind of accuracy and precision.
Best booth certainly had to be from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, all built out of used plywood from the art gallery distressed with torches to get the black finish, recyclable aluminum and baltic birch counters. It can work in the gallery as an artist's studio, or go on the road in pieces that can fit through a standard loading door.
It travels with these very clever stools that assemble or disassemble in seconds.
When one speaks to kids it is hard to find the right balance between "here is the problem about sustainability but there are answers" and the "omygod we're all gonna die" or to get the message out that there is more to the problem than just carbon. That's why Philip was so effective after my "ten things to worry about" introduction- he blows them away with the possibilities for the future that he is inventing now. It was wonderful to have all these teenagers come up after our talk to ask about sustainability, to find out where they can learn more, and to see them excited and challenged by so many possibilities.
Exhibition and lectures continue Thursday 11 Oct- If you have a kid in the Toronto area you should be there. We hope that the Merchandise Mart people will roll this out everywhere. ::Explore Design