“Objects that destroy resources essential to the life of the planet in favour of financial growth are, by definition, non-design”
This year, for the first time, the International Archiproducts Design Awardshas introduced a ‘Special Mention’ for Sustainability, a new award dedicated to projects that adhere to a logic of sustainable design.
A Jury specifically chosen to assess this aspect is currently selecting the products worthy of this new recognition at the 2021 Archiproducts Design Awards.
For our last appointment with members of the Jury, we spoke to the Italian Matteo Ward, a member of the Sustainable Design Jury Panel 2021. Ward is the CEO and co-founder of WRÅD, a start-up that has become an international best practice in ethical fashion and a design office that places design and innovation at the service of sustainability.
Interview with Matteo Ward on the 2021 Archiproducts Design Awards jury
What do you expect from the submission, and what characteristics should the winning products have?
I’m looking for projects that can help us move the conversation about what sustainable design really means a bit further.
Sustainability is not a thing to do, it is a thing to be. Today it is a process with contradictions just waiting to be resolved.
Can design objects become the by-products of the resolution of these contradictions?
Can they become a manifestation of a new way of living and understanding the physical world? If so, is this the new standard by which we can distinguish design from non-design?
How should contemporary design evolve to meet the needs of the community?
By reflecting on why product design was invented in the first place and then looking back to move forward. By abandoning an anthropocentric vision that places people above other living species without recognising that meeting human needs ultimately means preserving our natural and social habitats.
This is easier said than done. Going down this road today will force us to face inevitable contradictions.
One thing is sure: objects that destroy resources that are essential for the life of all living species on this planet for the sake of financial growth are, by definition, non-design. Such objects must be treated as criminals.
In the post-pandemic era, how can design define a ‘new normal’?
Everything is in motion, always.
Sometimes, as in this historical period, a transition is called a revolution.
The question is, then: How can design help us navigate the revolution towards a ‘new normal’? And how can design help us accelerate such a transition considering that the status quo is straining the laws of nature and the resilience of the current ecological balance?
Our job today is to act as a link between a status quo that needs to be challenged and a future that needs to be defined. The nexus will be the cause of the crisis. Solving the crisis will help us to move forward.
Today, politicians are the only designers who truly have the potential power to catalyse the resolution of this crisis and accelerate the transition.
Why did you decide to enter the field of sustainability, and what changes do you expect to see in the future in this area?
More than a decision, it was a natural destination for me.
I worked for a large multi-million dollar fashion retailer. Discovering the real social and environmental cost of my work in the early 2010s made me think about the distance between what I was doing and who I wanted to be in my life.
This realisation prompted me to do more research which led me to understand that if I really wanted to embark on a challenging journey to redefine the paradigms of the fashion design industry, I would have to quit my job, leave the comfort zone of my career and plan a ‘journey’ that didn’t exist. It was a scary leap onto an unknown path, motivated only by a purpose. I took this leap in 2015. That has kept me en route ever since.
About Matteo Ward
Matteo Ward studied International Economics at Bocconi University in Milan and Business Sustainability Management at the University of Cambridge. Today he is CEO and co-founder of WRÅD, an innovative start-up and design studio, winner of the Best of the Best RedDot Design Award, finalist at the Green Carpet Challenge Awards, selected by ADI Design Indexand finalist at Compasso d’Oro 2019.
Before WRÅD, Matteo worked with Abercrombie & Fitch for six years as Sr. Manager in Germany and co-administrator of the Diversity & Inclusion Council.
Matteo is also a member of Fashion Revolution Italia and a university lecturer.
He is often engaged nationally and internationally as a public speaker for such organisations and events as the United Nations (UNECE), TEDx Talk, WIRED Digital Day, Fashion Tech and Fashion Sustain Berlin.
The call for entries for the 2021 Archiproducts Design Awards is now closed
Jurors are evaluating the submissions to the Award’s sixth edition with the aim of rewarding innovative, ethical and sustainable design.
The jury’s vote will lead to the definition of an initial longlist, a selection of the proposals that will enter the Award’s final phase.
The winners selected from the longlist will be announced during the first week of November.
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