In an attempt to raise awareness of current climate challenges and provoke change, designers are visualizing the less obvious elements of our environment through a number of innovative products and artifacts.
Sadiq Khan, mayor of London and vice chairman of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, is committed to creating the cleaner, greener, better and healthier cities. In a post by the C40 New Team on the National Geographic City Solutions blog, Khan states:
‘I want London to be the leader in low-carbon innovation and industry, cleaning up our dangerously polluted air and setting out an ambitious long-term plan for clean energy in our capital.’
Despite being high on the political agenda, however, the damaging effects of climate change are still something that many people feel detached from.
A bombardment of scary statistics in the media, combined with a lack of visual evidence and information, has made the notion of global warming so intangible that some have even speculated it is a myth. With the creation of new, real-time visual information, designers are offering us a sense a hope. When we can see the humanity’s damaging effect on our immediate surroundings, we achieve a greater sense of connection to our environment. This, in turn, provokes empathy and, ultimately, a change in our behavior.
Responding to atmospheric pollutants in the city, Studio Roosegaarde has created the world’s largest smog vacuum cleaner, which allows the public to breathe and experience clean air. The Smog Free Tower forms part of Studio Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Project, which also features a series of objects such as rings and cufflinks that contain captured, compressed smog particles.
The Smog Free Project aims to inspire a clean future where governments, clean technologies, and the public can work together to create clean, green cities. Sky Blue, a project by recent Royal College of Art graduate Yijin Huo, presents a series of 56 reproductions of traditional porcelain Chinese Ru vases. Inspired by the iconic sky blue glaze, Huo colored each vase to reflect the change in color to the sky in Beijing caused by a deadly air pollutant known as PM2.5. Using data taken from the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre, each vase is stamped to correspond to one of 56 days of varying levels of PM2.5. This visual narrative aims to expose the current and future cost of Chinese economical development.
New York-based designer Nikolas Bentel has created a new line of reactive clothing. The patterns used in Bentel’s Aerochromics collection change as increasing levels of harmful pollutants in the air are detected. By helping us to visualize pollutants in our surrounding atmosphere, Oreochromis is able to influence the way we navigate through our urban environment, providing a better understanding and allowing us to take responsibility for our own wellbeing, as well as that of our planet. Designers are also helping us to make greener choices through wearable environmental trackers such as TZOA and the Lapka Personal Environment Monitor (PEM). These devices collect measurements from their surroundings and transmit this information to a smartphone, which analyses the data and provides the wearer with feedback. TZOA measures air quality, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient light and UV exposure, while the Lapka PEM can be used to detect radiation, electromagnetic fields and even check if your fruit was organically grown. By analyzing vast amounts of data, these new types of devices help build a much clearer picture of our environment, allowing us to initiate change – together
The Smog Free Project aims to inspire a clean future where governments, clean technologies and the public can work together to create clean, green cities.