‘We live in an age of uncertainty and what design can do is provide an experimental platform from which we can start to map and explore new ideas.’ Says Rachel Armstrong, one of the speakers at WDCD14.
Design and art create the conditions for innovation, is the belief of designer, scientist and sustainability innovator Rachel Armstrong who was in Eindhoven last week. From the interview I had with her for the WDCD conference book, here is what she has to say about the role of designers in our time.
‘I think there is a really interesting opportunity in design right now. We live in an age where there is a lot of uncertainty and what design can do is provide an experimental platform from which we can start to map and explore new ideas. A platform where possibilities may be explored without having to fix them in empirical results as would be the case in science. Design is creating a fabric of possibility, because design is evaluated through different systems. And it is also introducing a cultural and creative agenda that hasn’t existed before in terms of new technological development.
‘Symbiotica are an example of this new context. In 2004 artists in Australia presented an installation called ‘Victimless leather’ that excited people about the possibility of working with meat products without animals suffering. Now, they didn’t solve that. What they did was that they created a very engaged provocation. And now, about a decade later, we have actually got the first victimless meat burgers, and Andras Forgacs in Canada is creating leather that is made from tissue culture cells. In some ways design and art have created the conditions for innovation. And I think that that’s the change.’
Rachel Armstrong is co-director of the AVATAR (Advanced Virtual And Technological Architectural Research) group at the Department of Architecture and Landscape, University of Greenwich. She will speak on Friday 9 May at What Design Can Do.