Transition Design

Platform Talent – Gaspard Bos from Stimuleringsfonds on Vimeo.

Should you have a child? Is it fair to the child—or to the rest of the world—when environmental challenges make the future so uncertain? Is conceiving and rearing a baby something that can, or should, be controlled? How will it affect your relationship and family? What about how it will physically impact your body, especially if you are the mother? And what about your career – what is your life’s purpose anyhow? These are some of the questions that designer Gaspard Bos raises in his new piece Pathfinders, unveiled for the first time at the Dutch Design Week.

“It is a mediator of conversations”, says Bos of the interactive installation that he developed while completing a research residency at the Unstable Design Lab in Boulder, Colorado. The work marks a turning point in the Rotterdam-based designer’s practice. Since graduating from TU Delft’s Integrated Product Design Master’s in 2013, he has co-founded the Better Future Factory start-up (building on the Perpetual Plastic Project interactive recycling installation), worked with the Bugaboo baby stroller company to open-source design aspects in order to make replacement parts 3D-printable, worked with local people in Peru to co-design furniture woven from PET bottles, and participated in the adaptation and redesign of core relief items for refugees in Lesvos. He also still finds time to write, record and perform music.

“When I graduated, I really believed that if you want to do something to change the world, to make it more sustainable, you had to also make a business out of it”; Bos confesses that over the past few years he has realised that the way we do business is one of our biggest problems. Similarly, he has abandoned some project ideas centred on technological optimisation: “Technology doesn’t bring people together. People come together. Making some great technology or app isn’t suddenly going to improve the world. It has to come from social change.”

Facilitating this change by creating interventions that help us redefine our values and ways of doing things is the essence of “transition design” for the Rotterdam-based designer. The Pathfinders project has inspired Bos to focus his work more in this direction. He continues to work on a machine-learning enabled secondhand clothing project that combines the potential of new technologies with the urgent need to discuss and revalue the disposability of the fashion industry.

“I won’t ever”, concludes Bos, “say I design solutions anymore.” In a world of constant change, solutions become obsolete so fast.

Text: Nadine Botha