The climate crisis, whilst ever-growing and deeply concerning, can be tackled through more creative methods than we might expect; and at the forefront of a new sustainability initiative are young and emerging creatives from the RCA. In the lead-up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference this coming November, the RCA has collaborated with the Sustainable Markets Initiative to launch Terra Carta Design Lab led by The Prince of Wales and designer Sir Jony Ive, previously chief design officer of Apple. The aim of the lab is to create designs that have the potential to carry us to a more sustainable future, thereby demonstrating the vital role that design and the arts can play in producing sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.
The design lab seems to be encouraging students to go forth in all their future designs with sustainability in mind. It could prove to be an inspiration for designers and artists elsewhere to think more critically not only about their final product but of the sustainability of their creative process, such as the use of toxic art supplies which can find their way back into the ecosystem.
The students’ design concepts hope to align themselves with Terra Carta’s aims by drawing inspiration from the natural world, and giving back to it. Most recently, RCA graduates have innovated: a way to make sleek pottery from tons of toxic waste; The Tyre Collective, which tackles the emissions caused by tyre wear; and ZELP, a device worn by cattle which aims to reduce the amount of methane they emit – which, if you weren’t already aware, can be a lot.
Despite the climate’s staggering degradation, design innovation could be key “if we are to change how we look after the Earth,” says The Prince of Wales, “making it sustainable for Nature, People and Planet.” Sir Jony Ive, also a Chancellor of the RCA, mentions that “the biggest challenges demand the most ingenious, most creative thinking”, which is why he claims he’s excited about the work that the RCA students will be able to contribute.
A shortlist will be announced during the Climate Change Conference with the final winning designs to be announced in 2022 and subsequently supported in their development.