Restorative product design
Primarily a service-based and educational design entity, we promote a new wave of design that understands the positive impact that localized and modest-scale product creation can have on social and environmental systems.
We work to strengthen maker-communities who wish to develop their design and making skills, creating goods that predominantly utilize native plant-based resources cultivated in managed forest systems or reforestation scenarios, in order to help rebuild natural systems.
Through our projects with non-profit / community partners, we deploy young designers and makers aiming to demonstrate a working and accessible regenerative design model, whilst disseminating vital ecological comprehension over how we can design with and for natural and social systems.
CONNECTING AND STRENGTHENING MAKER COMMUNITIES
Alongside local non-profits, we connect US Makers to tropical forest Maker-communities, as a means to providing alternative income opportunities to activities such as cattle ranching, which drives deforestation in the American Tropics.
In addition, we organize Design Workshops, aiming to strengthen Maker-communities who lack access to skills-building resources, focusing on modest-scale and localized production of useful house-hold commodities.
The workshops are hosted by volunteer design / maker professionals and students, who finance this work through crowd-funding - which we help set up! This shifts power back into the hands of all people: You do not need to be connected to money, large organizations or have a long list of qualifications to participate in giving back to your fellow Makers.
We are deeply inspired by the Campesino-a-Campesino and Localization movement, the latter being key to key to addressing climate change, social injustice and re-building happy and independent communities.
DIVERSIFICATION THROUGH MAKING
We primarily work with communities who wish to revegetate denuded landscapes, by cultivating highly diverse managed forest systems with native vegetation, that reinstates lost ecosystem services* and that supports human and wildlife communities.
We often hear about diversification of food-crop systems, and believe we can further diversify such schemes through cultivation of materials:
In response to the environmental impacts of forest loss, organizations have been working with farmers and communities to convert deforested ranches into timber plantations to address economic and ecological needs. The chosen cultivated timber is often driven by market-demands: if we as designers only employ species such as Teak and Mahogany, such plantations respond by cultivating Teak and Mahogany. A more diverse managed landscape however, can support a wider range of wildlife and perform more robust ecosystem services.
Our work encourages the use of alternative materials including plant-based dyes, finishes and fibers. To date, we have researched over 150 different plant-based materials native to Central America, and we are currently experimenting with their uses.
* Services that nature ‘provides’ and from which we benefit: Air, water, food, carbon sequestration.
TEACHING AND DEMONSTRATING RESTORATIVE DESIGN
An important tenet of our work is material education aimed at designers:
to date the ecological impact of our material systems are not widely discussed in the Product Design Industry, and plant-based, carbon-capturing materials provide an alternative to carbon heavy oil derived materials.
Through our design studio (Parsons School of Design) we introduce designers to a specific reforestation model, where former deforested cattle ranches are converted to timber plantations. It exemplifies how designers and makers, through the application of a wider breadth of local plant-based materials cultivated in managed schemes, can help diversify these systems and subsequently enhance ecosystem services and wildlife habitat initially lost to deforestation and land-use change.
Teaching restorative design begins by re-framing how we see ‘Others’ - humans, or non-humans - along with rethinking the meaning of community: A community is comprised of everything in your view, from a rock to your neighbor’s cat. Re-learning to see this takes place through a range of educational graphic work, educational programming, exercises and field-trips.
THIS IS A WORKING WEBSITE!
We’re a consortium of passionate people with a variety of backgrounds spread across the globe that come together for projects. This site is a communication tool - please pardon any mess!