“In the Biological Age, designers and builders are empowered to dream up new, dynamic design possibilities, where products and structures will be able to grow, heal, and adapt.” So says ZWC 2016 opening keynote Neri Oxman – the architect, designer, and innovator who has captured the attention of institutions ranging from M.I.T. to the Museum of Modern Art with her concept of ‘material ecology’.
In an article written for the World Economic Forum’s website, Oxman outlines her vision of the future:
“A new way of beholding the world is emerging: the World-as-Organism. This nascent model stands in contrast to the First Industrial Revolution and its prevailing paradigm: the World-as-Machine. It strives to impart a living quality into objects, buildings, and cities. Unlike all three previous industrial revolutions—which were indifferent to ecology—this fresh perspective is not only bound to the natural environment, it betters nature at her own game. Inevitably, the World-as-Organism will supersede the World-as-Machine.
At first glance, Oxman’s cross-disciplinary ideas and objects may seem to have little to do with zero waste and the circular economy. But upon closer inspection the parallels between ‘grow, heal, and adapt’ and the ‘repair and reuse’ ethos that characterizes a vital aspect of the circular economy begin to emerge. Couple that with the need for new ways of approaching long-standing issues surrounding waste and consumption and it’s easy to see why Oxman, a winner of numerous awards for her innovations in design and materials, was chosen to provide the opening keynote for the 2016 edition of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Conference.
Whether it’s building with silkworms (see video above), or finding inspiration for wearable art from Kafka’s Metamorphosis (image at right), Oxman’s work provides fertile ground where new technologies, coupled with natural materials and processes, deliver a harvest of ground-breaking creations. Let Neri’s ideas plant a seed in your imagination, to think of new ways to tackle the issues and challenges you will face with the inexorable shift to a circular economy.
The 2016 Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference (#ZWC2016) is an opportunity to learn from thought leaders such as Neri Oxman, share ideas with like-minded colleagues, and gain a better understanding of where the shift to zero waste will take us. Mark Nov. 3 on your calendar and register today.