Founded by Graphic Designer Jody Boehnert, of London based studio Iambe comes Eco-Labs, a non-profit ecological literacy initiative, aiming to provide a platform for collaborative design addressing sustainability & systemic change in the UK. I caught up with Jody this month, as she presented a paper entitled Should Change be Radical? at the Sustainable Innovation 07 conference.
EcoLabs has been created to function as a network, and at the moment I sustain it though my private practice (www.iambe.co.uk). I founded EcoLabs because I came to believe that to achieve more epic design projects, designers need to collaborate. The network facilitates collaboration and nurtures a dialogue on sustainability.
We aim to nurture whole systems thinking, foster ecological literacy, and promote the transformation of the design model. EcoLabs will help create an alternative cultural vision that will drive transformational change, to meet the goals of fully sustainable society. By supporting ecological & systems literacy we will develop a shared vision of where we want to be and how to get there. Visualizations are an important source of inspiration: what will a sustainable global world look like in 10 or 50 years? We will animate the solutions, and help build a social movement to make it happen.
Although the Eco-Labs initiative is very much in it's early stages, it started with a green bang during London's Design Festival in September, with it's first panel discussion "The Greening of Design and Illustration", moderated by leading Design Theorist John Thackara, author of In the Bubble: Designing In A Complex World and Director of Doors of Perception, a design futures network. Described by The Wall Street Journal, Thackara "has established a global reputation as a cutting edge design expert". Thackara and Boehnert were joined by Science Director of The British Council Lloyd Anderson, Founding Designer of Thomas Matthews, Sophie Thomas, and London based Illustrator, Jody Barton.
The evening event discussed how Illustrators and Visual Communicators can, have and should rise to the challenges of communicating the most essential messages, in an era of environmental crisis.
What's next for Eco-Labs? I will be in close contact with Jody to keep us all informed on the latest community projects and developments over in the UK. There are a number of Eco-Labs projects to keep your eye on though, including EcoKits, EcoPods, A Sustainable Open Design network, Two X Six Degrees - A Publishing Project, Greenwashing Alert – A Web Resource, A Designer / Charity On-line Resource.