© 2021 Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

In the economic and societal structure that prevails today, resources and objects are largely used according to a linear pattern of “take, make and waste”. Global material consumption has octupled over the last 100 years and is set to rise by a further 17% by 2050. The throwaway mentality has direct consequences including clearly noticeable environmental issues as well as reinforced social inequality and exploitation throughout global production chains. In keeping with the vision of a circular economy, the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin is dedicating a design lab to the theme of “circular economy” until 29 August. It puts a sharp focus on materials having a key role. In close cooperation with the Hans Sauer Foundation and under the curatorship of Claudia Banz, Barbara Lersch and Kaja Ninnis, “Design Lab #8: Material Loops – Paths to a Circular Future” presents new ways of thinking and acting based on a selection of groundbreaking design projects.

Unlike a linear economic structure, a circular economy aims to design and construct products and materials in such a way that they can be given a different use at the end of their life cycle or fed back into technical or biological cycles. What is crucial for a circular economy are “long-life design, reparability, decomposability, the conservative use of all resources involved in production and the materials themselves that are used”. With a model of a circular society, the lab also goes on to present a vision of socio-environmental transformation based on the concept of circularity, where societal welfare is meant to remain in view. The aim is to overcome linear rules, organisational formats, knowledge structures, ideals and objectives in society by cooperating, participating, developing knowledge, sharing knowledge and being transparent and accessible.

The projects exhibited range from materials and best-practice examples already used in industry to speculative experiments by design students at various universities. The exhibition itself is making efforts to be circular, drawing its architecture solely from the museum’s stocks and largely avoiding printed products. The lab is also available as an online experience using a digital reader which can be downloaded free of charge.

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