AT LONDON DESIGN
ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) is presenting the exhibition Pure Gold – Upcycling and its Emotional Touch at the London Design Biennale in Somerset House from 4 to 23 September 2018. The project is supported by the Federal Foreign Office. This exhibition shows contemporary designs that recycle used materials as secondary raw materials to create new high-quality objects.
This ifa exhibition is thematically embedded within this year’s London Design Biennale focus on Emotional States. The Biennale brings together approaches in design that take an innovative look at social issues in thetwenty-first century – sustainability, migration and conflict, civil-society responsibility, environmental protection, water, and social justice.
This design event in the heart of London is taking place for the second time in 2018, presenting positions from countries from all over the world.
The diverse contexts and aims of the works shown illustrate the huge range of upcycling practice. All of the upcycling designs presented here combine aesthetic and ecological aims.
They thus challenge traditional design economies and capitalist consumerism. The exhibition architecture is based on the exhibits’ transportation boxes, and is thus itself committed to the concept of upcycling.
Waltraud Münzhuber uses old film tapes to weave intricate, elegant and practical paper bins, named after the original titles and content of the tapes – Tristan (2017), Laurel & Hardy (2018), or Winnetou III (2012). These works, mainly from recent years, are complemented by upcycling classics like the famous Bär + Knell 1990s furniture made of packaging materials.
In her Olympic Park Stool (2016) Micaella Pedros uses only found items from walks through London’s Olympic Park – PET plastic bottles, discarded bits of wood or builders’ wood left over from construction sites. This stool is part of the Joining Bottles project in which plastic bottles, heated using a high-performance blow-heater, are used as
The second part of the exhibition is a video installation that presents both theoretical contexts and practical uses of upcycling in everyday life. The theory is covered in a series of interviews that provide comprehensive insight into regional trends in upcycling and social and cultural differences.
We see and hear Divia Patel from India, curator at the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collection and the Asia department, both at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Tapiwa Matsinde from Zimbabwe, who works as a designer, author, writer, and creative consultant, and who edited the book Contemporary Design Africa, published by the renowned art publisher Thames & Hudson in 2015, and also Axel Kufus, German designer and professor for product and process design at the Berlin University of the Arts.
The ifa upcycling workshops take the idea of touch quite literally. Since 2017, these have been taking place around the world, drawing on regional techniques and traditions that can be used in upcycling practice.
Directed by Axel Kufus and the design duo Lapatsch|Unger (Annika Unger and Anja Lapatsch), these workshops involve local maker scenes, together developing existing competences. A direct result is instructables, simple video instructions in stop-motion formats that are made available via the online platform puregold.ifa.de.
After a workshop at the University of the Fine Arts Hamburg (HFBK), the next venues are Bangkok (Thailand) in 2018 and Yangon (Myanmar). Results from these workshops, which will run over several years, will be presented at the exhibition in London. The workshop videos on show embody the emotional aspects of upcycling.
The products that are made are not intended to be stately museum pieces, but rather an inspiration to people to creatively rethink their ownapproach to waste materials.
15 Dec. 2018 – 06 Jan. 2019
The Secretariat / Ministers' Building Yangon (Rangun)