Plastic cutlery is simultaneously a global phenomenon and problem, a symbol of world-spanning logistics and throwaway culture. As mass-produced, cheap, and easily disposable products, they perfectly fulfil their intended purpose while having destructive effects on our ecosystem. Another unintended design problem.
This year’s German contribution to the London Design Biennale is the result of a Design Campus Lab project. Curated by Thomas A. Geisler, director of the Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden and CEO of the Design Campus, the exhibition Spoon Archaeology (@spoon_archaeology_exhibition), presents hundreds of single-use plastic spoons as archaeological remains and asks how design can contribute to a more sustainable use of resources.
The installation shows a comprehensive collection of disposable cutlery made of plastic and other materials, collected by the exhibit’s designers, Peter Eckart (@peter_eckart) and Kai Linke (@studio_kai_linke). Eckart uses his spoon collection as teaching devices in his classes at Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach, Germany. Together, the class created a “complexity map” showing proportions and use of materials in the spoons elements, which is also on display at Somerset House.
A recent inspiration for the German entry to the London Design Biennale was the announcement of a ban on plastic cutlery in the European Union from July 3, 2021, onwards. Forks, knives and spoons made of plastic will thus become archaeological remnants of a very recent past, reminding us of their importance and complexity in our everyday life: defining production cycles, table culture and eating habits.
Spoon Archaeology’s research and exhibition bring to light how even good design can have negative results when not considering the systemic impact it has on the environmental crisis.
“Spoon Archaeology” is on display at Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R, 11 AM to 7.15 PM. For tickets, visit their website. You can also participate in the voting for the Public Medal of the festival here.