During a visit to Switzerland, I ended up in an extraordinary exhibition in Zurich, entitled ‘A glimpse of the works of the Shagal’.
I’ve seen many exhibitions in the UK, Europe and the US, but this one was really out of the ordinary – an artful, sustainable creation designed to reduce waste. The designers made the new business cards out of rubbish, literally. They re-used cardboard and abandoned waste postcards as they found them. The business cards were all recycled; each had its own design, graphics and patterns. They were simply beautiful and – of course – Green. According to the text on the exhibition walls, the exhibition saved several mature trees, it did not consume energy; there were astonishing details about the environmental savings of these innovative, sustainable business cards.
If just the population of, say, London or Oxford did the same as this single consultancy, imagine the impact it would have – it is not about blind and/or naive environmentalism, rather it is a practical matter. How many trees would be saved? How much energy would be saved? How much water would not be polluted?
This kind of design encourages people to think about their carbon footprints, as well as re-examine their attitudes towards the environment.
An intelligent, environmentally friendly work does not need to be big in scale. The work of Shagal Iodaa – which comprises the artist, architect, landscape designer, planner and critic Lui Galati and Siamak Shahneshin – extends beyond design to addresses all aspects of modern life.
It advocates cultural sustainability and teaches the very matter of sustainable design, which is all about responding to our changing life context on a global and local basis, as well as economically, educationally, socially, technologically and, particularly, through design research interventions.
Mark White, by e-mail