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UPM and Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London showcase new, sustainable design concepts to prototype a world beyond fossils

HELSINKI (News release) -- UPM and Central Saint Martins (CSM) collaborate to show possibilities for a future beyond fossils. As part of this collaboration design concepts have been developed that have the potential to disrupt traditional product concepts and trigger transformative designs enable sufficiency, recyclability and reuse as well as the substitution of fossil materials. The winning concepts will be unveiled at Design Transforms '23, an exhibition that is opening in September in conjunction with London Design Festival.

The partnership was designed to trigger a radical reappraisal of production and consumption patterns, and to demonstrate how multiple industries can make the urgent shift to renewable, circular materials in their products.

During 2023, a team of fifty Product and Industrial Design students from Central Saint Martins tackled a brief to build on a set of new renewable materials and design everyday products which are embracing the trio of reduced material use, introduction of new, more sustainable materials and supporting recyclability. The designs were evaluated by a diverse panel of expert judges for their design quality, contribution to renewable circularity, commercial viability and their potential to disrupt conventional thinking in multiple industries.

The eight shortlisted concepts are:

  • a mono-material and modular motorcycle armour
  • furniture crafted from a single sheet of bioplastic material
  • a versatile, modular, and interchangeable snowboard binding
  • a hybrid, modular, electro-acoustic synthesizer made from 100% renewably sourced bioplastic
  • a stylish plogging set combining environmental care, comfort and fitness
  • a transformative rationing stamp setting rigorous standards to authenticate sustainability claims
  • a modular shoe designed to address the prevailing issue of shoe waste by prioritising repairability
  • six user-friendly devices for camping

"We are scaling a first-of-its-kind biorefining business to offer a new generation of biomass-based renewable materials, helping brands globally to reduce their CO2 footprint and de-fossilize their products," said Martin Ledwon, Vice President Stakeholder Relations, UPM Biorefining & Technology. "Creating a vision for this defossilization is a task that goes beyond one company - it's a collective effort, best driven by ingenious minds and disruptive ideas. In this spirit, we partnered with UAL Central Saint Martins where generations of designers are educated to think disruptively and to design against the big challenges of our times. These new designs exhibited at Design Transforms '23 undoubtedly have the potential to inspire brands and designers to exit fossil-based materials."

UPM's primary role in collaborations such as this is one of catalysts - helping to accelerate the transition to a circular bioeconomy by sparking a reappraisal of what's possible; advocating for change; showcasing and promoting brilliant concepts and ideas; connecting people, ideas, organizations, investors and communities and mentoring the next generation of leaders and designers.

"Through our stimulating partnership with UPM, we have gained an invaluable opportunity to engage with concrete and pressing needs in design for manufacturing," said Nick Rhodes, Programme Director, Product Ceramic and Industrial Design, Central Saint Martins. "This collaboration has challenged us to develop compelling propositions that not only demonstrate but advocate for the urgent transition away from fossil fuels to renewable sources in manufacturing materials. This partnership is both challenging and inspiring, aligning with our commitment to transformation through design to a more responsible and sustainable future."

Design Transforms '23 runs from 11 September - 15 October at the Lethaby Gallery in King's Cross, London. Further information about the partnership and the shortlisted design concepts on display can be found here.

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