Circular design guides, museum manifestos, and feminist poems about a warming planet; this fall is filled with books that help us make sense of this age we call the Anthropocene. If you’re looking to better understand how the creative industries have contributed to the social and ecological mess we find ourselves in today — and how it could help us get out of it — look no further. Keep reading for a preview of the four illuminating titles we’re most excited to read this season.
A Labour of Love
by Lidewij Edelkoort & Philip Fimmano
About the authors: Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano are two of the world’s most famous trend forecasters. You might know them from their influential work at Trend Union, a design consultancy poised on the cutting-edge of fashion, textiles, interiors, cars, cosmetics, retail and food.
About the book: This beautifully designed book highlights 70 of the most forward-thinking makers in contemporary design, previewing a future of responsible production and ethical craftsmanship. It offers a glimpse into how a generation of designers are experimenting with materials and manufacturing processes, from reviving the loom to working with robots and growing new matter.
Why we picked it: A Labour of Love is insightful, activistic, and brimming with the kinds of questions every creative should be asking themselves today. What does it mean to be a designer in a time of overproduction and overconsumption? How can we reconnect with different ways of making? And where will man, machine and nature meet in the future? Whether you’re an artisan or an architect, an amateur or an auteur, this guide provides plenty of inspiration on the most important materials and techniques in the years to come.
Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure
by Katie Treggiden
About the author: Katie Treggiden is a journalist with almost 20 years experience working in the intersection of craft, design and sustainability. She is also the creator of Circular, a new podcast series engaging the thinkers, doers, and makers of the circular economy.
About the book: “Today, the resources we need are no longer in the ground, but in landfill,” said Katie Treggiden in a recent article about the greatest challenges of sustainable design. Her latest book delves deep into this subject, and celebrates 30 optimistic and enterprising designers who create while also closing the loop; chipping away at old models of the ‘take-make-waste’ economy and inspiring vital narratives for a zero-waste future.
Why we picked it: Like Katie, we believe that a book about waste is a book about everything. If we can recategorise trash as treasure, we have a fighting chance at tackling “the mother of all environmental problems.” Pick up a copy to view ingenious solutions from designers working with everything from coffee grounds to denim offcuts.
The Brutish Museums
by Dan Hicks
About the author: Dan Hicks is a curator and Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford. His award-winning research focuses on the restitution of African cultural heritage from Euro-American collections.
About the book: Now, onto treasures of a different kind. In this book, author Dan Hicks asks us to take a long, hard look at the stolen objects that adorn the gilded halls of some of Europe’s most prestigious museums. He makes his case by focusing on the story of the Benin Bronzes — a collection of thousands of brass plaques and royal artefacts which were looted by British forces in Nigeria in 1897. The book ends with a rousing call to action: return everything, and rebuild museums not as sites of violence or trauma but as “sites of conscience.”
Why we picked it: Passionate and political, The Brutish Museums is an important addition to ongoing conversations around decolonisation and cultural restitution. Highly recommended for all artists, historians and cultural workers serious about confronting power, privilege and whiteness across the creative industries.
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson (ed.)
About the editors: Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and founder of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice. You’ll find her at the nexus of science, policy, and communication, building community around climate solutions.
Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson is an educator, strategist and New York Times bestselling author. She co-hosts the podcast A Matter of Degrees and speaks widely, including at TED where her talk on climate and gender equality has garnered more than 1.9 million views.
About the book: Curated by two climate leaders, this anthology serves up provocative poems, essays and artworks from women at the forefront of the climate movement. Expect a diverse collection of ideas and solutions from scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, and designers, across generations, geographies, and race.
Why we picked it: “While it’s clear that women and girls are vital voices and agents of change for this planet, they are too often missing from the proverbial table,” reads the introduction to this poignant and powerful book. We picked it because we strongly believe that there is no climate justice without social justice; and no designing a better world without more nuanced conversations about what and who is leading the charge. Besides the book, All We Can Save is now also a community initiative, which you can learn more about here.