After two months of forced closure, public life is slowly restarting. While Het Nieuwe Instituut has developed alternative formats and remained open online, it's now possible to open physically again – and so develop more hybrid programming in the near future. Our perspective will continue to be nurtured by the need for different voices, both socially and ecologically. It is our assignment, and we also feel it is a necessity, to supply inspiration and perspectives while providing creative commissions for designers, theorists and makers. After all, since its foundation the institute has linked the role and importance of design to precisely those social issues, which are once again proving their urgency.
September 17, 19:30h: Collectivizations #3. In a third edition of Collectivizations, Jonas Staal interviews cultural historian Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of 'Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy', on what it would mean to democratise Facebook. Flora van Gaalen, Head of Programme at Het Nieuwe Instituut, interviews Paris Marx , urbanist, writer and founder of the podcast 'Tech Won’t Save Us', on strategies to nationalise and repurpose Amazon.
On the Surface: Timber and Plastic
On the surface, timber, plastics and other materials have become essential for preventing contagion with Covid-19. Sterile medical disposables, antibacterial coatings and virus-proof cardboard boxes proliferate, forming new markets, habits and waste streams. Commonly overlooked surfaces and materials are reconsidered, measured and labelled in line with new hygiene and safety regulations. Yet their industries continue to aggravate the degradation of ecosystems, closely intertwined with the rise of pandemics to begin with. From deforestation to the anthropogenic exploitation of natural resources, the timber and plastic industries are paradoxically complicit with exacerbating the disease. This newsletter brings to the surface a selection of design projects that respond to the changing role of material industries in current social and ecological crises.