Reimagine the future with Kairos Futura

There are many myths at the root of the climate crisis. The idea that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet, for example, is one that continues to drive our economies towards expansion. But perhaps the most dangerous cultural story of all is the one which separates humans from nature. Dangerous, because it perpetuates a colonial view of the world, one which places the needs of people above those of all other life forms on the planet. Because of this, one of the most urgent problems we face today is the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems around the world.

Changing the course of climate change means saving all that we can, while building a new way of life that is restorative by design. It also means telling better stories about the world than those who are destroying it, and envisioning a future that is more sustainable, equitable and beautiful than the past. This is the ideal domain for creative activists: facing the unknown, reimagining what’s possible, and inspiring others to do the same. But what might these strategies look like in practice? Find out in the latest digital zine for the Redesign Everything Challenge, or keep reading to get to know 5 designers dreaming up a better tomorrow for nature and culture.


Green Charcoal Bricks | Spaces | India

Did you know that between 8-15% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to concrete manufacturing? This makes the construction industry one of the largest contributors to global warming and climate change. In India, designer Shreyas More is addressing this issue by developing a range of building bricks made from an innovative, biophilic material. Using a combination of charcoal, organic luffa fibres, soil and air, Shreyas has created a strong, flexible mixture that is biodegradable, lightweight and allows the growth of plants and insects on its surface. Using these bio-bricks on the façades of buildings, dividers and other public structures could help restore biodiversity in cities while also reducing urban heat through passive cooling.

Living green charcoal bricks

Green Charcoal Bricks are strong and flexible but also porous enough to nurture plant and insect life. Photo: Shreyas More.


Ponda | Materials | UK

Ponda is a biomaterials company developing novel textiles from truly regenerative fibres. Their flagship product is called BioPuff®: a lightweight material that can be used as an alternative to synthetic fillers in jackets and coats. Its fibres are derived from a species of plant known as typha latifolia. Typha is a low-maintenance crop which is well-suited to regenerating wetland environments, such as peatlands, bogs and fens. These ecosystems are essential to the health of our planet as they sequester large amounts of carbon. Some of the other benefits of typha are that it can grow quickly and create habitats for a huge variety of other plants and animals. The production of BioPuff® also requires minimal land usage (only 0.002 hectares per kilogram) making it less resource-intensive than conventional fibres like goose feather.

Ponda regenerative materials

Ponda develops fashion-forward fibres using low-maintenance crops that regenerate wetlands. Photo: Ponda.


Resting Reef | Products | UK & Mexico 

In nature, nothing is wasted — not even death. But today, most people are buried using methods that involve toxic chemicals and end up polluting our soil and groundwater. Meanwhile, a typical cremation adds about 400kgs of CO2 into the atmosphere. How can we find our way back to a more restorative end?

Resting Reef answers this call by offering meaningful eco-burials that regenerate marine ecosystems at the same time. The process involves turning cremated ashes into underwater urns that double as artificial reefs, where oysters can live and thrive. Each organic capsule is 3D-printed using a composite that also contains seafood waste, making them circular in more ways than one. They’re also beautifully designed and could help to prevent coastal erosion over time.

Resting Reef's eco-burial service

Resting Reef produces underwater urns that restores marine ecosystems. Photo: Resting Reef.


Power Plant | Systems & Services | The Netherlands

Power Plant is a self-powering urban greenhouse that uses transparent solar glass to harvest both food and electricity. The design also features colourful LEDs to support plant growth and a hydroponic system which uses 90% less water than traditional soil farming. Developed by solar designer Marjan van Aubel, Power Plant offers a glimpse into how renewable technology could be effectively (and beautifully) embedded into our buildings and objects.  “The prevailing narrative around solar energy focuses too much on technical and economic considerations,” say Marjan about the vision behind her work. Through her designs and experiments — which include a range of sleek furniture and glittering roof panels — she reminds us to leave room for “wonder, design and imagination” in our climate solutions.

Power Plant greenhouse system

Power Plant was one of the winners of What Design Can Do’s Climate Action Challenge in 2017. Photo: Marjan van Aubel.


Kairos Futura  | Communications | Kenya

Kairos Futura describes itself as a “futurist organization committed to fostering positive societal transformation” in Kenya. They do this through creative and community engagement, using the power of art, design, and storytelling to explore pressing issues like climate migration, biodiversity loss and access to clean water. Besides supporting local artists working on practical solutions, many of their activities are focused on sparking imagination and collaboration. Their new network of Space Stations, for example, are designed as multidisciplinary hubs for “prototyping community visions of the future.” Ultimately, the project hopes to promote a critical approach to futures thinking that is less about high-tech dreams and more about celebrating grounded, locally-rooted experiments by Kenyan visionaries.

Kairos Futura space station

Aspen Space Station. Photo: Kairos Futura.

Top image: Lamu Space Station by Kairos Futura.