Product and interior specialists seeking to create sustainable designs will soon have access to information, courtesy of start-up initiative New Frontiers. Based in Manchester, New Frontiers is poised to roll out a website, seminar programme, a major awards scheme and accompanying exhibition.
The initiative is being organised by New Frontiers founding directors Melissa Sterry – chief executive of think tank and design group Societas – and Matt Prescott, former director of the Royal Society of Arts’ Carbon Limited programme.
’Designers really want to be on top of sustainability, but there is a lack of available technical information, and they don’t have the time for weeks of research,’ says Sterry. She was inspired to set up New Frontiers after judging the International Design Awards’ Land & Sea competition. ’I saw that there were lots of technical errors in the entries, with solar panels at the wrong angle, and wind turbines everywhere,’ she says.
The New Frontiers seminar series launches in early March, rolling out across venues in Manchester, including the Centre for the Urban Built Environment, the University of Salford and Media City UK.
’We chose Greater Manchester as the New Frontiers base specifically because of its manufacturing heritage, its energy and the fact that it is home to many of the UK’s most pioneering projects, including Fab Lab and Media City UK,’ says Sterry.
The 2010 seminar programme will, among other things, cover chemical leasing and closed-loop systems, industrial symbiosis and zero-waste life cycle. Sterry hopes that the seminars will generate ideas that range from ’as far out as Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, to things that provide solutions immediately’.
Sterry and Prescott’s goal is to bring designers, academics, scientists, investors and the media together to discuss new developments, their requirements and future directions. Sterry reports that, in particular, chemists are ’really excited’ about communicating with designers.
’Right now, chemists don’t know where things are heading in design, they don’t know what designers need, and designers and architects have felt limited in the materials on offer,’ she says.
The first seminar will be broadcast live via a webcast on the launch version of the New Frontiers website. The first phase of the final site will go live in April. Rolling out in phases until 2011, the website will feature a sustainable innovation news feed, free downloadable reports, an online gallery and a bookshop. The websites are being designed by Manchester-based group Mickey & Mallory. The New Frontiers branding was created by Sterry’s group Societas in two weeks, after ’a big-name designer let us down at the last minute’, she says.
The site will also contain details of the biennial design and engineering prize, with categories covering commercial and residential interior architecture, transport design and product design.
Sterry and Prescott are hoping that the prize will attract sponsorship for a top prize worth at least £100 000, to be used for funding the development of the winning sustainable project. Other prizes could include invitations to become a patron of New Frontiers, an intellectual property legal protection package and free mentoring and business advice.
The first awards ceremony is slated to take place at The Lowry, Salford Quays, in late autumn. Sterry is working closely with Salford University on the seminar programme, for which it has given New Frontiers access to research facilities, academic staff and virtual conferencing suites.
March 2010 – first phase of the New Frontiers website launches. The first seminar takes places at Manchester’s Centre for the Urban Built Environment, with seminars rolling out every month thereafter. Social networking pages launch on Twitter and Linked In
September 2010 – prize entry deadline. Nominees work loaded on to the New Frontiers website
October-November 2010 – New Frontiers prize ceremony will be held at The Lowry, Salford Quays
2011 – New Frontiers public exhibition to be held at the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry