Design Club Open Call 2019 Critical Tide
The Critical Tide exhibition, which combines design and research, will open on September. Pharmaceutical Information Centre is supporting the exhibition.

The Critical Tide exhibition will open at the Design Museum’s Gallery in September during the Helsinki Design Week. It brings together projects and works that explore the sea and the potential for positive impact through design. Critical Tide will combine research, activism and community engagement within the exhibition space.

At a time of deep ecological crises, Critical Tide will open our eyes to the urgent issues our oceans face and showcase creative ways of intervening. The exhibition challenges visitors to experiment, learn and immerse themselves while calling for a complete redesign of our relationship with the seas.

The exhibition tries to show how design can act on the imperative for sustainability. Visitors will find many ways to actively engage with sustainability and the oceans.
Exhibition includes a seaweed design laboratory, oil absorbent mats made of hair, and an Oceans Confessional booth for confessing sins against the seas – just to name a few. All the different projects exhibited raise awareness or intervene in marine ecosystem to make a positive impact towards sustainability.

The exhibition was created by a multi-professional, international team: Julia Lohmann (designer and professor at Aalto University based in Helsinki), Pirjo Haikola (designer, scuba diving instructor and researcher at RMIT in Melbourne), Gillian Russell (designer, curator and researcher at Emily Carr University in Vancouver) and Gero Grundmann (designer and illustrator based in Helsinki).

Design brings people face-to-face with global problems

Critical Tide casts a critical eye over a topical theme. The Chief Curator of Design Museum Helsinki Suvi Saloniemi has noticed that exhibitions around the world are now examining the environmental crisis and questioning our relationship with the planet and its species – the importance of interspecies cooperation.

This process of re-organizing the co-existence of different species will also inevitable change the position of design and designers. Exhibitions around the world are suggesting that designers and the design industry should start to be accountable to our planet instead of the market economy and trade. The works displayed at the Critical Tide are considering different ways design could be involved in the birth of a new human-ocean relationship, Saloniemi describes.

The Critical Tide exhibition presents eight different projects and works that visitors can view, hear, test, or touch

Aquatocene – Subaquatic quest for serenity

Aquatocene, by Slovenian artist Robertina Šebjanič investigates the phenomenon of underwater noise pollution created by humankind in the world’s seas and oceans. The sound compositions heard at the Critical Tide exhibition are a re-mix between the bioacoustics of marine life, the aquatic acoustics and the presence of human-generated noise in the world’s oceans and seas. Underwater noise effects a great number of marine life forms which depend on the sub-aquatic sonic environment to survive. The audio compositions of the subaquatic soundscape encourage us to reflect upon the anthropogenic sonic impact on the underwater habitat and marine life, as well as illuminate awareness and underscore the importance of maintaining safe sound environments for animals living in the world’s oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers.

Baltic Characters

The exhibition team has created an empathy exercise ‘Baltic Characters’. It examines how can we reconnect with the species that live beneath the waves, both intellectually and emotionally. The playful test explores ways in which we can nurture empathy and reconnect with the seas. The visitor can find out which species in the Baltic Sea resonates with them – and learn what you can do to safeguard its future. The test is illustrated by Gero Grundmann, a graphic artist, illustrator, and member of the exhibition team.

Department of Seaweed – an open seaweed laboratory

Julia Lohmann, RCA Alumni and a curator of the Critical Tide exhibition team, has worked with seaweed and developed it as a sustainable material for making since 2007. The Critical Tide Exhibition includes a seaweed design laboratory in which Lohmann builds objects from seaweed and introduces the Department of Seaweed community of practice. It connects designers and makers, researchers and scientists interested in algae as a sustainable resource for making. Throughout the exhibition, Lohmann and her team will work in the open workshop in the gallery every Wednesday.

MARS – Modular Artificial Reef Structure

Modular Artificial Reef Structure, MARS was designed by Alex Goad in 2013 to assist with coral reef restoration. Its ceramic surface is designed to house transplanted corals. Transplanted corals can be divided as they grow and eventually be planted to restore reefs that have been degraded. The system has won multiple awards and is installed on Summer Island in the Maldives to assist with their coral nursery.

Matter of Trust Hair Mats

According to the US Matter of Trust organization, around 4.9 million liters of oil spill into the sea in US territorial waters alone. Matter of Trust has developed mats and booms which can be used to clean up oil and grease from water bodies and water drainage systems. The mats are made of organic and renewable material – human and animal hair and fur, wool and feathers – which absorbs oil without further damaging the marine ecology. 

Ocean Confessional

Ocean Confessional is a booth where visitors can reveal the sins they have committed against the sea. They will write their confessions on slips of paper, which will be dropped into the sea at a public ceremony held on 26 October. The slips are made from a water-soluble paper, each containing a small amount of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate in the form of limestone or crushed bivalve shells has been added to lakes to stop acidification.

Radical Ocean Futures installation

The Radical Ocean Futures project combines art with science and is led by Dr. Andrew Merrie of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, a research Institute of Stockholm University. The project presents four scientifically grounded narratives of potential futures for our global oceans. Combining scientific fact with creative speculation, the work prompts reflection and the application of imagination to the future oceans and how we might think more creatively and radically about the environmental challenges facing marine ecosystems. The work shown at the exhibition includes four brief scenarios presented through imagery and audio narration.

Sea Chair by Studio Swine

The plastics in the oceans take thousands of years to degrade, remaining in the environment to be broken up into ever-smaller fragments by ocean currents. The Sea Chair by Studio Swine (Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers) is made entirely from plastic recovered from the seas. Together with local fishermen, the plastic is collected and made into a stool at sea. Studio Swine is an art collective established in 2011 by Alexander Groves (UK) and Azusa Murakami (JP).

Meet the makers and take part in the Critical Tide exhibition

In the Critical Tide exhibition, the audience has many ways to participate, learn, ask questions and meet the team behind the exhibition. Critical Tide will also expand from the Design Museum’s Gallery to the coasts of Helsinki.

The Critical Tide exhibition was selected to be Design Museum gallery exhibition in Design Museum Open Call project.  Pharmaceutical Information Centre is the main partner of this year’s Open Call exhibition. John Nurminen Foundation and The Association of Finnish Lions Club and their The Lions for Clear Waters project have also supported the projects of the exhibition.