As part of Urban Matters, A/D/O is exhibiting four creative projects from around the globe that explore the topic "The Future of Work" from zero-mile fabrication to user-programmed AIs, these projects powerfully demonstrate the power of design to imagine a better future.
A/D/O and IdeasCity
For their contribution to Urban Matters, A/D/O teamed up with fellow New Yorkers, IdeasCity. Founded by the Manhattan-based New Museum in 2011, IdeasCity was conceived as a collaborative outreach initiative aimed at highlighting the role of art and culture in preserving the future vitality of cities. A notion which is certainly simpatico with the founding principles of A/D/O, to create a better, more sustainable and livable future through design innovation.
The result of this dynamic collaboration is “The Future of Work”: showcasing a quartet of groundbreaking and evolving projects from across the globe which all explore radical new relationships between labour and production.
The four exhibits challenge existing delineations between work and leisure and local versus global. And they are presented within an ingenious circular exhibition space, which has been specially configured for the show from Belgian Designer, Thomas Lommeé’s highly-adaptable OpenStructures modular building system.
Featured is Atelier Luma. Based in Arles, France, Atelier Luma began operations last year with the aim of, amongst other things, utilizing naturally-occurring biomaterials prevalent within a particular locality, to create biopolymers. These can then, in turn, be used to make products which have a direct relationship to that region’s culture and identity. To this end, Atelier Luma will be running Shanghai’s algae through their 3D printers to produce some very distinctive vases and drinking vessels!
A similar ethos informs Italian designer, Andrea de Chirico's SUPERLOCAL project. This is an ongoing experiment in hyper-localized product production in which de Chirico sources component parts from within a one-mile-radius to produce a number of everyday household items. And in an appropriately circular twist, the resultant variations within the specific design of say, a lantern or hairdryer, serve as a reflection ofthe uniqueness of the immediate material culture of the locale in which it was fashioned.
From the ultra-local to the truly transcontinental, Afripedia is a platform which presents a positive future vision of creativity within Africa. It does so through a series of documentaries filmed across the continent from Angola to Kenya, Senegal to South Africa, in which young artists, designers, filmmakers, photographers and musicians voice their perspectives on cultural production. Afripedia also sets up links between young African creatives via a directory of emerging talent.
Finally, Danish designer, Ottonie von Roeder, brings to Shanghai a bold vision for the transformation of workers into “non-workers” within a “post-labour” future. This through the deployment of robots and other automated devices. Of course, this may not be a new concept, but von Roeder provides an individualized, self-empowering framework for its attainment.
And so, in her “post-Labouratory” she invites participants to abolish their jobs by devising robots – in collaboration with other “post-labour companions” – to take on the work. In doing so, she allows us to imagine a world in which the abolition of repetitive tasks better enables us all to realize our creative potential. And here’s to that!
Byline: Text by Ian Lowey, design journalist and editorial designer based in Manchester, England.
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