Lifecycles of Material Worlds - Sustainability in Practice

Lifecycles of Material Worlds - Sustainability in Practice: will investigate the ways in which practitioners are proactively exploring sustainably engaged projects and practices. These initiatives might involve digital design and production methods, and/or new materials innovation and/or pursue localised sourcing; perhaps incorporating cradle-to-cradle design and make strategies, or associated approaches of make and mend, re-cycling, up-cycling, re-use, and sharing to confront the throw-away culture and planned obsolescence resonant of global capitalist production systems. Finally, these strategies might also include repair and maintenance as schematic elements of a practice built around sustainability agendas.

In the West these initiatives have typically been linked to the Craftivism and activist movements of the last fifteen years or so, and associated with a micro-politics of grass-roots transition and slow movement thinking and feminism. More recently, the persistent state of austerity, widespread inequality and precariousness, and the need to seek economically beneficial neighbourhood alternatives to production and consumption, are also, in part, driving initiatives in DIY, make and mend, repair and maintenance, re-cycling, up-cycling, re-use and sharing.

Of course, sustainability agendas are not only impacting upon mainstream practices in art, craft, design and architecture, but also upon corporate thinking concerning global production chains and transportation systems. This is particularly the case in the wake of the Paris Climate Agreement (which at the time writing is still open for signature by States). Such circumstances oblige us to ask whether small-scale methods of making necessarily provide for more ecologically sustainable practices than modern industrial systems?

We want to hear from engaged practitioners from across the spectrum of art, craft and design who are working in ways that redefine practice in the context of sustainability agendas.