During Dutch Design Week 2022 three early evening pop-up salons connect a research on human footprints by designer Ineke Hans and DEA alumni Ned Kaar, with curator Annemartine van Kesteren’s online expo 'The Decay Economy' for Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.24 October 2022, Rabobank space at Aera 51
Afterthoughts Salon 2: Unmaking
Front runners of sustainability are spurred on by the impulse to make a difference and progress brings these agents of change into contact with the tools employed within the system they are part of and impacting.
Within the built environment, material culture and production, some of the fields most frequently trod by designers, statistics have become central as they allow for comparison and standardisation of the industry.
Being able to conceive our impact on the planet abstractly in the form of a number is widely held as a means of being able to make progress towards environmental sustainability, making clear distinctions between what is good and what is different.
The systems in which designers work are structured by the statistics as they are used to access markets, funds and support. The experimental and progressive are subject to these same scientific calculations, even when the output of these works eschew quantification.
Intangible benefits can be difficult to quantify in their costs and across time and for small-scale ventures, the demand for certification can be a stifling. It is not enough for a proposal to rationally address issues; it must be proven and applicable within the systems they are aiming to adjust and disrupt.
This is the reality, but not one without space for movement. Awareness of the systems within which these interventions and ventures sit can present opportunities, and those that begin at grassroots can find that there is more support for their initiative internationally than nationally. The relevance of disruption within the field to partners and other stakeholders, and the alignment of ideals, is crucial for progress and sustainable action.
Fundamentally however, designers are often working in the statistical grey-zone of added and intangible values both in the work that is produced and the way that it is done. We need look no further than the initial impulse of all frontrunners, is itself a matter of passion, to find another aspect of production that is impossible to quantify.
A full report might come online later