Once again, Nick Gant and Jonathan Chapman brought sustainable design discourse, discussions and debate to the floor of 100% Design through their annual show, ‘100% Sustainable?’. The theme for this year’s show was 'Models of Sustainable Design', and this was addressed through seminars, demonstrations, workshops and live discussions that took place within a unique debate raising exhibit.
The 95m2 exhibit investigated issues of scale, contradiction and minimisation that surround sustainability, primarily, by subverting the utopian vernacular of model railways. In collaboration with Jim Wilson (School of Architecture & Design), the team created an immaculately-detailed and miniaturised world presented as a ‘00 scale’ model that asks questions of the viewer and deliberately sets-up contentious scenarios. Running through the modeled landscapes were trains laden with miniature products that provide exemplars of good sustainable design, according to the research undertaken by Jonathan and Nick. Visitors to the stand were then able to control the trains - positioning them in front of live television cameras, which beamed pictures of the exhibits out onto screens around the stand at Earls Court. The robust packing cases for the large, but fragile, exhibit were designed to also provide seating for up to 60 seminar and workshop participants throughout the show.
The four-day seminar and workshop series followed the themes of growing, learning, models and making. The first days programme explored ‘growing’ as a theme and included research topics such as how by-products of the coffee trade can be utilised as new materials, in addition to projects such as architect Andre Viljoen and Katrin Bohn’s 'Productive Urban Landscapes', which looks to utilise urban environments to grow food and place growing spaces. The second day addressed the theme of ‘Learning’ as key to promoting sustainable design knowledge, understanding and skills in the creative sector. The major European funded DEEDS project (Design, Education and Sustainability) presented their 24 core principles, or models, of sustainable design throughout the day; the 24 features will also form part of the DEEDS online Podscape resource, launched later this year. The third day saw Jonathan and Nick introduce six key theoretical ‘Models of Sustainable Design’ exemplified by 12 practical examples of products, which begin to unpack the factors that make them important to sustainable design discourse.
Finally, the fourth day saw a combination of exciting practical demonstrations of sustainable materials and technical processes in the event space. On this final day of the show, the Ten to Four group presented diverse elements such as a mud-ramming demonstration (where earth excavated from building sites is used to make bricks for the build), presentations of research and educational work carried out in UK schools, as well as exploration of issues of sustainability that are evolving in India’s subcontinent by researchers that explore the contradiction of development models imported from the west into a society that has already well developed and workable ‘Models of Sustainable Design’.