The Royal College of Art launches the online exibition “Sustain”,  10 | 7 | 2009

Royal College of Art, Jannuzzi Smith, Sustain

With the design and the support of Jannuzzi Smith the Royal College of Art has launched the environmentally-themed online exhibition “Sustain”. The launch of the initiative was timed to coincide with Britain’s Green Day, and the site will grow over time to reflect the College’s ongoing commitment to this area of design. Crucially, “Sustain” offers a glimpse of the many ways in which design can feed into making the world a more sustainable place. As Sophie Thomas, Board member on the Design Council, says about the ‘unique responsibility’ of designers: “It is now time for the design industry to roll up its sleeves and get stuck into the biggest challenge of our generation”.

“Sustain” is presented thematically – Culture, Energy, Futures, Waste – and also by discipline. Architecture, Textiles, Vehicle Design; these are just some of the academic areas under investigation. Ideas as varied as a plastic that provides plant food as it degrades, furniture made using recycled hoarding from the Olympics building site (there’s in excess of 15,000 sheets of plywood, just aching to be used), and clothing with built-in, kinetic energy harvesting capabilities, using the physical capacity of the body to power some of the devices that we now rely on in everyday life. Some of the showcased ideas exist as functioning prototypes and one-offs, others are more blue-sky; offering visions of alternative futures, futures where sustainable design is embedded in everything the design community does.

Professor Alan Cummings, Pro-Rector of the RCA, notes in his introduction to the exhibition, “Every year sees a greater level of environmental concern among our students. You can see this more strongly in some areas than others, but it is everywhere – in Architecture and Design, in Communications, in the Applied Arts and, sometimes more subtly, in Fine Art. The challenge is to see it all in one place at one time. Sustain is one way that we can make this happen: a place where we can showcase College-wide environmentally aware practice. It is a beginning, and we expect to watch it grow. Thanks to Jannuzzi Smith for helping to put it together”.

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