Singapore, 5 November 2021 – It’s everywhere we look. It’s the result of the way we consume. It’s inherent in everything we produce. And what a waste we are grappling with now.
According to research from the World Bank, more than 2 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste are generated every year, and that is just everyday trash. Add industrial and agricultural waste, and the figure becomes truly unimaginable. Without urgent action, global waste is set to increase by 70% over the next 30 years.
But what if waste could be reframed, thought of as an abundant resource rather than an unwanted material? What if we design with waste as the starting point, and as an end in itself? What if waste could be made useful and beautiful, re-birthed and given worth? The time has come to never let waste go to waste again.
Opening amid the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), The Waste Refinery at National Design Centre brings together international and local brands, designers, artists and schools to show how design can tackle critical global issues.
From acclaimed Japanese designer Kazuhiro Yamanaka to London-based Fash-Tech studio Petit Pli to the students of LASALLE College of the Arts, these 20 exhibitors curated by award-winning creative agency Kinetic Singapore collectively address one of the biggest sustainability challenges of our future – waste.
“One of the most pressing issues when it comes to sustainability is what can we do with the ‘monster’ – mountains of waste – that we created. The Waste Refinery aims to challenge the perception of waste as unwanted, unusable material. The exhibits here go beyond aesthetics. They demonstrate a utilitarian and functional angle to show that waste can be a truly valuable resource,” says spokesperson and creative director of Kinetic Singapore, Pann Lim.
Among the exhibits are sustainable footwear made from used tyres by Indonesian brand Indosole; playful table tennis bats crafted from recycled plastic by Sydney studio Préssec; a pair of guardian lions grown into shape using mycelium (a natural fungi material of industrial strength) by Mycotech Lab; ceramic vessels glazed with coloured pigments derived from metal mining residue by Lithuanian designer Agne Kucerenkaite; homeware made from renovation and construction waste by homegrown label LAAT; and one-of-a-kind refurbished chairs by beloved local second hand furniture store Hock Siong in collaboration with textile studio Soft Studio.
“The ways in which people produce and discard materials as well as unsellable items illustrate a gross neglect of the world we live in. In the midst of this extreme excess, we ask ourselves how can we (create items that) stand the test of time and be befitting to mother earth that needs us? Surely even the world of design can withdraw from its excessiveness,” says interior designer and co-founder of LAAT, Cherin Tan, on why she works with waste.
During its run from November 2021 till January 2022, The Waste Refinery will be complemented by an online campaign to spark conversations about waste. This will take the form of tutorials on transforming waste into items of value and beauty, and contests on social media.
“The Waste Refinery shows how creative ingenuity can benefit communities by diverting waste from landfills and generating new revenue streams, while transforming raw materials into precious objects. We hope that this exhibition at the National Design Centre will inspire visitors to rethink how we prescribe value to objects and aesthetics, and see the endless potential of using design to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle,” says Mark Wee, Executive Director of DesignSingapore Council.
The Waste Refinery
Exhibition from 6 November 2021 to 16 January 2022
9 am to 9 pm daily, free admission
National Design Centre, 111 Middle Road, Singapore 188969
Images of The Waste Refinery can be downloaded here
About the National Design Centre
The National Design Centre is the nexus of design, the meeting point for creative minds and businesses and the venue for presenting all things design. It is also home to DesignSingapore Council. The repurposed, award-winning conserved building is as much an emblem for outstanding Singaporean design and architecture, as it is a thriving venue for visitors to attend showcases and programmes.
Find out more at designsingapore.org/national-design-centre
About the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg)
DesignSingapore Council’s (Dsg) vision is for Singapore to be an innovation-driven economy and a loveable city through design by 2025. As the national agency that promotes design, our mission is to develop the design sector, help Singapore use design for innovation and growth, and make life better in this UNESCO Creative City of Design. The Dsg is a subsidiary of the Singapore Economic Development Board.
For more information, please visit designsingapore.org