Visit to the Waste Age Exhibition


We recently visited the Design Museum to see the exhibition Waste Age: What Can Design Do?

by Florina Mihaila


Following our participation at COP26 and continuing our initiative to put sustainability front and centre as a practice, we took the opportunity to visit the Design Museum’s latest exhibition – The Waste Age. The exhibition covers sustainability and the circular economy, exploring the phenomenon of throwaway culture. There is a strong focus on the impact design has had on waste throughout the years, and how it can change in the future.

Designs in recycled plastic- two chairs by Dirk van der Kooij and light by James Shaw.
“Can we, firstly as individuals and secondly as designers, stop the mass production of wasteful materials?”

Curated by Gemma Curtin, the exhibition is split into three sections that reveal step by step, the timeline of waste in our society, from the 1700s until today.

In the first section we are presented with how mass production and consumption have contributed to growing global waste.

We’re then taken through the process of how waste can be repurposed for design and architecture by designs made from reclaimed materials.

The exhibition then showcases the ongoing innovations in materials, like mycelium, rice husks, fish-farming and also experimental projects that put these new products into use. The projects range from the earliest examples of short life disposable plastic chairs and water bottles through to current materials created from our food waste – like the invention of the sustainable material Triporous™ which is made from rice husk.

There has been an incredible change brought by makers and designers to start addressing the issue with practical solutions.

Studio Swine - Chair made of discarded aluminium cans

At the end of the Waste Age exhibition, these are the questions that we were left with: “Can we, firstly as individuals and secondly as designers, stop the mass production of wasteful materials?” followed by “How can we reclaim the waste that we have already produced?”

For me, the visit to the Design Museum has been an eye opening experience. It has completely changed my view on the impact that every individual has when it comes to how we use earth’s resources. I believe that demand leads to the change of supply and if we educate ourselves to ask for the products that have the smallest carbon footprint then we can make a visible difference.

The exhibition is well worth a visit and will be showing until 20 February 2022. For more details got to the Design Museum website here.