10 Apr The Crossroads Of Sustainability & Design
In Spring 2018, SEAL Awards connected with Rasa Weber, Co-Founder and Head of Design for Blond & Bieber, a Berlin-based design studio who achieved international acclaim with their project Algaemy.
As one aspect of Algaemy, Blond & Bieber explored the potential of micro-algae to transform the textile industry, especially through the use of ecologically compatible fabric dyes.
ESSIE AND RASA, HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET? PLEASE TELL US THE STORY OF THE GENESIS OF YOUR PARTNERSHIP, AND OF YOUR CONCEPT FOR BLOND & BIEBER.
Essi and Rasa met in 2013 during their studies at KHB Weißensee (Berlin). Back then they collaborated on projects in University and soon started to pursue their “professional love affair” outside school as Berlin-based design-duo. What fascinated them initially was their different design backgrounds. Essi originally came from textile design, while Rasa had a background in product design. In their collaboration they try to cross the borders between all kinds of different disciplines, such as fashion, textile and product design, but also sciences by means of design-based material research. Today the two designers collaborate project-based on different projects and merge their talents across discipline wherever they find new challenges in design.
YOUR STUDIO IS CLEARLY ON THE FRONTIER OF INTERACTIVE DESIGN AND INSTALLATION ART. HOW (IF AT ALL) HAVE YOU BRIDGED BETWEEN THE WORLDS OF ART AND INDUSTRY? ART AND SCIENCE? HOW IS YOUR WORK IMPACTING THE COMMERCIAL TEXTILE SPACE?
As designers with a strong narrative background it is always a challenge to keep the balance between artistic and commercial requirements. We always saw our work as two-sided. On the one hand we try to coin new ideas and really make an innovative impact in the industries. We develop objects, products, materials which encourage people to look twice. On the other hand we want to bring our design out into the world, which requires a more practical understanding of design. After all it is all about finding the right balance. On events like the Los Angeles Fashion Week or the Prague Design Week we always tried to push the borders of the „conventional“ and try new perspectives on a classical design understanding. In Los Angeles for example we „slowed down“ the catwalk with a design performance in collaboration with the musical Oscar May. In Prague we invited visitors to sleep inside the exhibition space, by the aid of our sleeping backpacks. We wanted to turn a classical exhibition into an interactive installation for the visitors.
HOW ARE BLOND & BIEBER’S DESIGNS INFLUENCED BY AN ETHOS OF ECOLOGY?
We always thought that sustainability has become a most natural term for our generation. We strongly believe that today’s design world knows perfectly well about the ecological impact of their creations. But what people tend to forget is, that sustainability is not only a term, which asks for recycling products and an eco-friendly cycle of production. After all, what makes a product sustainable is its story! If a consumer cannot connect to the product, she/he will soon throw it away. A sustainable product always inherits a unique history. A story which is worth to be told. Something that makes the consumer relate to the object. That’s what we try to do with our work.
PLEASE TELL US MORE OF THE BACK STORY FOR ALGAEMY – HOW DID THE POTENTIAL OF MICRO-ALGAE CAPTURE YOUR ATTENTION? WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS FOR THE PROJECT? HOW HAS ALGAEMY BEEN RECEIVED, HAS THE PROJECT MADE YOUR INTENDED IMPACT? ARE THERE ANY SURPRISING OR UNINTENDED OUTCOMES?
In 2013 the phenomenon of micro-algae as a new powerful resource caught our attention. We knew that it was used as nutrition and even fuel. It was our goal to find an aesthetic application for algae, to change the perception of it as a material which can set a new impulse in design. The impact of our project has been a surprise for us as well. After five years, “Algaemy” has developed its own life and actually did not only spread within the community of designers but also found its way into scientific papers and dissertations. When we went to the Fraunhofer Institut in 2013 to learn more about micro-algae, we always hoped that our work would not only be of interest for other designers but also for those scientists who introduced us to the matter. Today we know that our work has set an impulse to all sorts of different disciplines. Almost every week we receive a request from young designers and scientists who are interested to work with algae as an eco-friendly alternative to common pigments. We hope that they develop our idea further and set new impulses.
WHAT ARE YOU VISIONING FOR THE NEAR FUTURE, FOR YOUR STUDIO AND UPCOMING PROJECTS?
We are working on two different subjects right now – the scientific and the applied field of design. Essi is engaged in the field of textile research and puts a lot of effort into the collaboration between science and design. Rasa works on translations of narrative design approaches into the market, especially in interior design. For the future it is our goal to be able to work on projects which set impulses in the design field, especially in the curated design context. On the other hand we are searching for ways to apply Algaemy to industrial products such as furniture and interior textiles.
ABOUT BLOND & BIEBER
Blond & Bieber are a Berlin-based studio which meets on the border between textile- and product design. By means of concept, experiment and a strong visual approach, the duo take a narrative approach to design over a purely practical understanding of production.
ABOUT SEAL AWARDS
The SEAL (Sustainability, Environmental Achievement & Leadership) Awards launched in 2017 and is an awards-driven environmental advocacy organization.
Our core beliefs maintain that environmental progress requires leadership, leadership deserves recognition, and recognition is a form of accountability.
The SEAL Awards organizational pillars are our:
- Business Sustainability Awards
- Environmental Journalism Awards
- Lifetime Achievement Awards
- Environmental Research Grants