The New Generation
What if instead of producing new goods, we’d focus on how they are used and recycled? This isn’t a fiction, but rather a new direction that leads us away from a linear system towards a circular economy that inevitably changes the way we think about the role of the designer and the design process.
Rather than focusing on a single product outcome, new and existing designers should focus on the whole production cycle, including consumption, utilization and afterlife.
The ways in which products are used, distributed and discarded should be within the designers’ scope. The design discipline is not limited to shaping an object. It entails foreseeing how it will mature, when and how it will break and how it can be repaired. Alternatively, how its’ materials can be reclaimed or how the objects itself can be reused.
Above all, the new generation of designers is expected to design in an inclusive way — including users with various disabilities, (also neurodivergent people) sensitivities, different capabilities and resources. The end-goal of designing a fantastic product regardless of the price is not the objective, but rather about designing an object or service that caters to and improves the public needs and is accessible to all.
When looking at students’ work, I continuously ask myself what sustainable growth really means today and how to practically approach it. Shall we balance it, show it down or radically change direction and seek alternatives? I’m eager to see the students’ ideas.
The New Generation exhibition is a selection of the most interesting graduation projects from three design school in Poland : School of Form in Warsaw, Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk and Polytechnics in Koszalin (Architecture and Design Department).
Agata Nowotny, curator of the exhibition, underlines:
“I’m observing the way todays’ graduates deal with emerging design challenges. How accurate are they in foreseeing the future needs of not only individuals but producers and service providers? Are they able to be and stay ahead of the times or are they just reacting with ad hoc solutions to contemporary issues?
I value works that discover invisible problems or those that find new perspectives and solutions for well-known challenges. I appreciate solid research that informs the projects. Superficial projects cater more to ego or expression while real designs have the ability to observe and draw conclusions. I appreciate practical creativity because one has to find innovative solutions for identified challenges. In students’ work I search for freshness and novelty — I’m intrigued by their perspectives and ability to see things differently from what is visible in the mainstream.
What’s more, I don’t believe that student work has to be ready for market implementation. The educational realm is not limited by distribution and market realities but the work has to be rooted in and addressing real insights and needs. I appreciate creators who, instead of being purely reactive, are able to foresee future events or needs and find game-changing solutions".
Faculty of Architecture and Design, Academy of Fine Arts Gdańsk
Students' works are a mirror of today's considerations and challenges. They show the direction of their interests, tell about what the young artists find important or interesting. Does the Baltic Sea, with which they have daily contact, affect their emotions and the design process? Selected works by students of the Faculty of Architecture and Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk respond to the festival's slogan: Empasea.
This year's festival slogan is an interesting combination of two words: community and sea, which makes you wonder: who are the local inhabitants, what are their observations, does the sea affect them? When looking at selected projects by students of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, it is not difficult to notice the influence of the Baltic Sea: from the direct association mentioned in the wall calendar, through references to sailing, to the search for new material, the use of waste. Slogans such as timelessness, recycling, respect for the material – these are beautiful ideas that students show in their projects. The sea shapes the identity of the people who choose to live on it.
How to use byproducts of industrial production, break the cultural taboo and design a fully functional chair?
The seat of the Reos chair has been made using byproducts of industrial and household waste. Bones are a byproduct of the meat industry — a large part of which remain unused and are thereby wasted. In order to obtain the biomaterial, the bones are granulated and cooked and then used as a base for composites that can include various types of household waste. This biomaterial can be moulded, shaped and chiselled into any desired shape.
How to give a second life to already used sails?
This armchair is made using used sails fastened to a metal frame. Sails are resistant to stretching but are easily torn at the seams which is why the designer needed to make optimal use of the existing fastening elements on the sail such as the cringles. The armchair looks perfectly at home in a natural, harbour context.
Coral reef – calendar
How to experience ocean depths without leaving your home?
The design of the calendar was inspired by the colours and structures of coral reefs that alluded to profound ocean depths. The thoughtful and appropriate colour scheme emphasises the beauty that can be found beneath the waves and the calendar cleverly incorporates learning elements about the different kinds of species that inhabit coral reefs.
School of Form SWPS University
Knowledge, responsibility, sensitivity and empathy. This is the remedy proposed by School of Form graduates to the problems of modernity. In design, these are the base elements. You will find them in each of the featured projects.
Young people are aware of the miserable condition of the world. We have too much stuff and our resources are running low. However, they chose the design profession. In their diploma projects, they constantly look for new paths. They recycle what is available, they treat used-up products and waste as resources. They think about what will happen to things when they are no longer needed. They design circularly and responsibly.
They are also exhausted. The pandemic, war, inflation and an atmosphere of constant uncertainty are not helping them enjoy their lives. They act prudently. They tap into the resources of nature and culture. They know that nature is wise and is perfectly capable of regenerating itself. They seek solace in historical knowledge, stories they hear from old women or find in ethnographic museums. Humans have managed for thousands of years without modern technology. Do we know how to revisit the past and does it even make sense? Undergraduate and graduate students consider what we can learn from plants and animals and what we can do for them.
School of Form is a design course at the Faculty of Design of SWPS University in Warsaw. The course of study lasts 4 years and upon completion graduates are awarded a Bachelor's degree. In the two available specialisations, i.e. product design and communication design, they take advantage of well-equipped laboratories, and the classes taught there have the formula of open, interactive workshops. School of Form places humanistic reflection on contemporary issues at the center of design education. It prepares students to design for a better tomorrow by combining theoretical and practical knowledge, craft and technology, image and word. Students work on their own projects and learn how to present them. They have at their disposal a tailoring workshop, a computer workshop, a photo-video room, a locksmith shop, a carpentry shop, a ceramics shop, a screen printing workshop and a digital tools workshop equipped with robots and 3D printers.
Teachers at the School of Form including Polish and international designers. They are researchers and practitioners, experts working for top brands and companies across industries. School of Form also collaborates with the social and business environment of the university. Business partners support students' development, offering them internships in their companies and often a permanent job even before they graduate.
The OPO project
How to re-use old tires?
These flip-flops are made out of rubber granules that have been obtained in the process of recycling used car tires. This recycling process can be repeated, making this pair the possible recycling material for a next pair of flip-flops. The designer is demonstrating the possibilities of using existing rubber as a material for continuous reprocessing.
Material: rubber granules from car tires
How to make plastic yourself?
The designer, a cycling enthusiast, has developed a home-made method of processing plastic from which he makes bicycle pedals. Inspired by DIY methods and the principles of a circular economy, he uses tools developed by the Precious Plastic collective and has created a series of models. He tested the final pedal prototype on numerous bicycles that he has built himself.
Material: recycled PE plastic
How to hack urban spaces in a colorful and comfortable way?
Blop. is a place-making piece of urban furniture – a set of soft, colourful overlays for urban spaces, with an unspecified purpose. The overlays function as backrests and seats that can be freely combined with each other. The project encourages ‘hacking’ public space and occupying urban spaces in an informal fashion, thus strengthening users' relationship with the place and improving their seating comfort.
Material: granulated synthetic rubber, 3D modeling, CNC, casting
How to design the experience of a good sleep?
A subscription service where the customer receives seasonal sets of aromatic herbs with soothing and sleep-enhancing effects. Each of the four linen pillows marked with a specially designed pattern is filled with a blend of herbs composed by the designer. The following season, the customer orders only the filling.
Material: digitally printed linen, mixed herbs, cardboard
Plant dyes in printing on fabrics
How might one use plants in printing on fabric?
The author has developed a technology for printing on fabric using dyes based on plant material. Her inspiration came from methods and raw materials that, based on historical research, were used in Greater Poland and Silesia regions. The experiment consisted of printing trials using insulating paste and screen printing block inks. The methods of natural dyeing were developed based on ethnobotanical knowledge, while the method of fabric printing was developed based on ethnographic and archaeological findings. The designed patterns are a contemporary interpretation of traditional designs found in the Wielkopolska and Silesia regions of Poland.
A pickling laboratory for children
How to encourage kids to prepare pickles?
A set of pickling weights that playfully teaches children how to prepare preserves and allow them to understand the nature of the fermentation process. The fermentation process is not entirely predictable which makes it all the more interesting while interacting with it stimulates children’s imagination. By becoming researchers and chefs, children spend their free time meeting with tradition and learning about healthy living.
Faculty of Architecture and Design, Koszalin University of Technology
The sea – shared-space, shared-area, "shared-existence"? How are we affected by the awareness of direct closeness with such a great, natural element and ecosystem as the Baltic? What is the influence of the place we live in on our lives and in what way we influence the space?
To what extent do we identify with the Baltic Ssea and the coastal region as its inhabitants? Do we know how to use its resources and are we able to appreciate or protect them?
Through sustainable design practice we are looking for the sources, the identities hidden in the treasures of the Baltic Sea and its coastline, and seek the answer to the question: when can we put an equal sign between the identity of the place and the identity of its inhabitants?
The presented diploma project of the Faculty of Architecture and Design from Koszalin University of Technology in the field of jewelry depicts these mutual correlations in a unique way, and they also constitute their practical existence.
The main idea of the projects is to appreciate native and natural raw materials as well as their prudent and at the same time experimental application in creating new, alternative and biodegradable types of matter.
Regional peculiarities, characteristic qualities of the landscape and natural resources such as: plants, amber, sand and salt hidden in the coastal areas of Western Pomerania have become the inspiration for innovative jewellery form, so significant in expressing and representing the native cultural identity, both in personal and collective sense.
a jewellery collection
How to make jewellery from vegetable peels?
This jewellery collection is the result of a prolonged search for alternative, biodegradable, renewable and local materials for the creation of jewellery. The result resembles stones native to the seaside. The elements are made of dried, powdered vegetable peels that have been fused with a natural rice glue.