Issue 80 of DAMN° celebrates those who dare to do way with a prescribed way of being – to those who avoid only a functional, sensible, or efficient world in favour of something more organic.
Organic typically means relating to living matter, and in farming more specifically means production without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. We rest on this, looking at food, farming and fishing, but take the term further, to shapes, materials and ideas that fight against predictability.
To DAMN° organic is about an approach, a yearning to break free from the constructed way, and the associated limitations imposed on us by an industrialised and capitalistic system. And how better to understand this than to look at artists and designers who dare to imagine a departure from normal sensibilities, who dare to dream and even build without the obsession to be functional, sensible and efficient.
We hear from French anthropologist and DAMNº regular, Arnaud Gaillard, with his take on how ‘organic’ can influence thinking and lives. We sit down with Samuel Tomatis, who works with algae as a material, and visit the last windmill in Holland that still produces paper. Also on offer is an insight into the gorgeous work of Diana Scherer, and we learn how public space in the post-Covid era operates in India. We look into how the pebble – the ultimate organic shape – has influenced some of the most influential contemporary architects, from Snøhetta to Aedas and MAD.
There are organic time capsules, and we have a long chat with artist-duo Cooking Sections about the relationship between how we eat and the climate emergency, along with an explanation from the attention grabbing, iconoclastic projects of Danish conceptual artist Jens Haaning. We focus on how roots, plants and fungi can be utilised differently and how our senses can be manipulated via design. We also talk to Turkish artist Emre Hüner, who releases narratives from their more predictable and linear comprehension.
It’s a far-reaching issue and what holds it together is the idea that all the man-made, top down strictures imposed, legalised and policed to keep things “normal” might also be restricting creativity and minimising the free and experimental long-term thinking we need to tap into for our mutual survival.
Because organic is more than just living. Organic matters.
BLOCKCHAIN BOOST THE FUTURE OF FOOD
Superflux, Refuge for Resurgence, 2021; a multi-species dining experience with animals, birds, plants and fungi; photo: Mark Cocksedge
The goal of a blockchain is to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed but not edited. From a design perspective this type of database can enhance trust, efficiency, and speed. In the financial world it’s already proven to be a real game changer, but equally, it has the potential to transform supply chain management by enabling faster and more cost-efficient delivery of products, along with better traceability and coordination between partners.
BIO-BASED MATERIALS ARE REVOLUTIONISING BUILDING STANDARDS
The Exploded View, project of Biobased Creations; photo: Jeroen van der Wielen
Designers have been toying with the slew of features offered by bio-based materials, employing modern technology and recent research to fuel craftsmanship and advocate a green approach.
FAMILY CAN MEAN ANYTHING
Patricia Piccinini, (detail) The Young Family, 2002; Bendigo Art Gallery collection
Artists have forever been exploring the complexities of family, especially the roles and responsibilities of women within it. A romp through this history reveals the struggles and also the celebrations of how families — and what is even considered family — have evolved. Although closed traditions still dictate and limit its public notion, in private the rules, expectations and considerations defining family are becoming far more organic — a loose and self-prescribed embrace of what just feels best.
— FISHING FOR A FABULOUS FUTURE
Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe; photo: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian.
Somewhat of an anomaly in the art world — and not only because of the obtuse name of their collective, Cooking Sections develops projects that have no end date. Indeed, it is the duo’s sincere wish that the work they have set in motion continues forever. Intent on making the planet a better place, and more pointedly, the human a better person, they centre their practise on wildlife/nature, in the context of devising organic food supplies that do not harm or disturb natural systems, meanwhile undoing some of the damage hitherto caused.
RESEARCH & REALITIES
DAMN° RESEARCH helps us to think critically through design. It allows us to both reimagine the material world to make it more functional, and to restructure systems to make them more transparent and fair. Design research happens across the spectrum from product design through to understanding how societies are organised or will be organised given the inevitable changes humans are facing.
DAMN° REALITIES provides brands with a way to fuse advertising with unique editorial coverage. It is a partnership that is personal, targeted and has international reach.
— WHAT DOES COLOUR MEAN?
Some members of the Kaclleraccay Native community in Peru on a break during a sowing day.
I carry out research into natural dyes and their extraction and explore how this knowledge relates to geography and culture. Nature is unpredictable and therefore so are the colours it produces. Location, seasons, pollution and water are all factors that interfere with the colours extracted from any plant. So each hue corresponds to that particular moment, story or tale and has its own meaning.
— THE COMBACK KID
Portrait Stefan Diez, © Gerhardt Kelermann, 2021
"Before thinking about the future, it is necessary to master tghe classics of modernity." Such is the credo of David Einsiedler and his partner Joke Rasch, owners of historic German lamp brand Midgard since 2015. Which is why, before launching their first new product under the Midgard label, the pair first studied the company's heritage, and the iconic products designed by its founder Curt Fischer, in depth.