Ecotopia selected as highlight exhibit at Brompton Design District during London Design Festival 17-25 September 2016

Ecotopia is a multi-sensory installation exploring the appeal of Utopian thinking in envisaging a sustainable and better future for our planet and Society. The quincentenary of the publication of Sir Thomas More’s novel Utopia this year gives us an opportunity to discuss how we perceive our future and how we could change it.

In Utopia, More described a journey to an imaginary island state where everything was perfect. This was a pioneering quest for an ideal society, later denounced as dangerous and only pursued by lunatics and idle dreamers. While it is true that there are dangers in Utopian thinking, there are much greater dangers in its absence. In our uncertain times, we need a bold and compelling vision of a better future. Now is the time to reclaim Utopian thinking as a critical means of interrogating the current state of affairs and offering an alternative vision.

Ernest Callenbach’s novel Ecotopia, published in 1975, was the starting point for this installation. It was one of the first ecological Utopian novels, which called on us to change our worldview and adopt a new mindset that places sustainability and saving our planet at the core of Society and our values.

The Ecotopia installation is a contribution to the broad discussion on what this shared vision might be. Rather than merely speculating, it will showcase illustrations inspired by the visions of leading scientists, academics, philosophers, designers and architects who are currently looking at climate change and sustainable solutions.

The installation itself will continue the narrative of Ecotopia. A framework of wall-mounted screens will display illustrations of these visions, and a floor of bark chippings and rammed earth will support plants that reduce pollution. Ferns and grasses can play a role in the transition to a more sustainable future as they provide food, building materials and fuel. As a whole, the installation will create a small-scale Ecotopia for people to experience. The space will provide a restful contrast to busy, chaotic urban life: a place for quiet contemplation.

Climate change is the most urgent issue we must tackle to ensure our survival, as it is being accelerated and exacerbated by our activity. We have been made to believe that we must constantly consume new things and upgrade to the latest model to keep the economy growing and thus attain the good life, but this does not take into consideration the depletion of our planet and the huge amounts of waste generated. In the last fifty years alone, we have stripped our planet of a quarter of its topsoil and a third of its forests. A third of all our planet’s resources has been consumed in the last forty years.

Our current obsession with “stuff” is the cause of much of the damage done to our planet. It is vital that we hold out a vision of Ecotopia so people can imagine a new life beyond consumption and unbridled growth. The mindless acquisition of stuff must come to an end.

Ecotopia Team Members

The members of the Ecotopia team demonstrate an impressive range of achievements and skill sets. Together they have created playful communication concepts across a range of disciplines and processes, including graphic design, typography, drawing, printmaking, collage, digital image-making and three-dimensional installations

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