We are thrilled to announce that Design Investigations is representing Austria at the London Design Biennale 2018! Our installation ‘After Abundance’ at the Biennale will be open to the public from the 4th to 23rd September at Somerset House in London. We hope you can come by and see our work, and meanwhile click through to see our work-in-progress.
Our speculative installation ‘After Abundance’ transports visitors into an Alpine landscape in Austria which has been pillaged by the forces of climate change. In this post-climate change future, human ingenuity and interspecies solidarity offer the key to survival. Contending with the stark realities of climate change, our installation explores how local communities face down new challenges by using craft and cunning to thrive in an altered landscape.
Visitors will enter a typical Austrian farmhouse, to hear sounds of raindrops on the roof and a radio telling a story about illegal rain. They will see a disassembled drone on the dining table, among other objects gesturing at everyday life in this speculative future. Visitors will notice a gap in a walled-off space, a pink glow, a low hum, and the clinking of glassware as a hint of something brewing behind a closed door. With a rhythm of drums and cowbells growing louder as they draw close to the town square, beastly shadows loom on the floors and surfaces. Pressing on, visitors are confronted with life-sized figures who are spraying water to replenish a melting glacier. Surrounded by the sounds of howling wind and cracking ice, visitors will experience the tensions and struggles of future Austrians confronting climate change with creative improvisation, mutual aid, and the interweaving of tradition and technology.
We want visitors to leave with the realisation that beyond the fear caused by such turbulence, there lies hope, and an opportunity for transformative action.
So how did 25 design students end up representing Austria at such a prestigious event? About a year ago we were approached by curator Thomas Geisler from Werkraum Bregenzerwald to see if we would be interested in developing an installation for the 2nd edition of the London Design Biennale under the theme ‘Emotional States’. The students were delighted with the opportunity, and we designed our academic year to work towards the Biennale, whilst ensuring that the students develop their conceptual and practical skills according to our Studio’s curriculum.
The brief we set for the academic year was titled ‘After Abundance’. The students were asked to investigate, explore and design for a post-abundant Austria, a possible future where climate change has severely affected Austria, disrupting life as we know it. Following an intense period of research, the students and faculty went for a field trip to the Bregenzerwald region of Austria, meeting local mayors, foresters, farmers, and climate scientists, and seeing first hand the growing impact of climate change already being experienced by the people of Alpine Austria. After the field trip, we set a series of micro-briefs, solo and group projects for the students, from which key themes and concepts for the final installation emerged. This was followed by numerous iterative rounds of prototyping, narrative building, concept development and research. And from that emerged the final projects; taking form as experiments, legal hacks, protest, ritual and performance.
We will be reporting from the Biennale and will share the final photos of our installation soon!