‘Plant Fever’,plant-inspired design on exhibition at the CID center in Belgium


‘Plant Fever’,plant-inspired design on exhibition at the CID center in Belgium

From October 2020, the ‘Plant Fever‘ exhibition at CID – Center for innovation and design at Grand-Hornu – will open a window on the different approaches chosen by the designers who have decided to deal with the plant kingdom.
For centuries, our inherent alienation from nature has prevented us from truly understanding the potential of plants as more than simple materials or decorative objects. In recent years, however, new scientific discoveries and philosophical approaches have reframed our relationship with them, questioning the dualism human/nature so much rooted in Western thinking.
Echoing the belief of American ecologist Ian Baldwin that “we should try to think like plants”, designers, scientists and engineers, started to look into plants’ structures and behaviors adopting them as allies to develop solutions for current and upcoming environmental and social issues.
Plant Fever – curated by studio d-o-t-s, and produced by the CID au Grand-Hornu – proposes to look at the future of design from this new vegetal perspective, moving from a human-centered to a phyto-centered design.
Spanning from products and fashion items to material research, open-source devices and emerging technologies, a selection of about 50 exhibits – representing the work of creatives from more than 20 countries – will investigate notions such as plant blindness, ecofeminism, forestry, biomimicry, and upcycling, but also post-colonialism and cultural landscapes. Conceived as a militant exposition, Plant Fever will not fear taking a stand, ask critical questions, and call for new radical perspectives, involving the public in a positive, inspiring, and constructive conversation.

cover image: dach&zephir, Eritaj Kontré, 2015  photo © Jiès Cléodore


Spyros Kizis, Archichair, 2015, © Kizi design studio
Kizi design studio presented Artichair as a case study on the alternative use of agricultural waste. The chair was born from the use of parts of plants that would normally be considered ‘waste’, to be used as fertilizer or as bio-fuel, and ennoble them through processes that enhance some of their qualities. Spyros Kizis, who presented Artichair as an experimental project on the alternative use of agricultural waste, created the session using the upper part of the thistle plant, a very common plant in the Mediterranean.


Dossofiorito Phytophiler, 2014,  photo © Omar Nadalini
‘The Phytophiler’, designed by Dossofiorito (Livia Rossi and Gianluca Giabardo), is a collection of pots in glazed ceramic on which functional appendices are installed, suggesting possible gestures and daily care for the plants inhabiting the living spaces. These additional elements – mirrors, lenses, plant supports- represent attempts to interact with the domestic world of plants, through sensibilities that are typical human acts. Gestures that improve the relationship with plants and that are important evidence of a new widespread attitude towards Nature, and of an awareness of finding ourselves in front of sensitive beings.


dach&zephir, Eritaj Kontré, 2015, photo © Louise Desnos
Florian Dach and Dimitri Zephir form the ‘dach & zephir’ design studio based between Paris and Guadeloupe. The award-winning studio has an approach to design that stands out for its constant search for memory and for objects that often arise from the encounter between different cultural and artisan traditions.
The Eritaj Kontré tableware collection, (translatable as an inheritance encounter) stems from what the authors define as a “casual collision” between the Faïencerie Georges in Nevers (France), whose legacy lies in the handmade decoration on enamel rough, and the basket weaver Gérard Ako, who weaves objects from coconut palms in Guadeloupe (French West Indies).


Helene Steiner, Artist in Residence at Microsoft Research, Project Florence, 2015, credits Steiner and Microsoft Research.
“If plants could talk to us, what would they say? Equally important, if people could converse with them, how might plants respond?” Asking these questions, Project Florence combines biology, natural language research, design, and engineering to enable people and plants to converse. ‘ (from website microsoft.com)
Plants use electrochemical signals to communicate their conditions and needs. Combining skills in the fields of biology, design and engineering, Helene Steiner, in collaboration with Microsoft Research, has created “Project Florence” a digital interface that connects the plant and the human world.
Helene Steiner is a UK-based designer and researcher focusing on new interactions with our natural environment. Her research follows a biological approach and looks at opportunities to not only bridge the physical and digital world but also combine natural and artificial.


Tamara Orjola, Forest Wool, 2016, photo © Ronald Smits © Design Academy Eindhoven
Pine trees are the world’s leading source of timber. Every year, 600 million pines are felled in the European Union alone, and yet in addition to the wood from these trees we can also extract and use needles, which represent 20 to 30 percent of the total mass.
Starting from this observation, Tamara Orjola investigated the potential use of the billions of needles that remain unused and found that they represent an excellent alternative to other types of fibers. Through standard manufacturing techniques – crushing, soaking, steaming, carding, binding and pressing – pine needles can be made into fabrics. An elegant series of stools and rugs made of nothing but pine needles showed that this eco-friendly material also has remarkable aesthetic and tactile qualities.


Formafantasma, Botanica Collection, 2011, photo © Daniele Misso and Marlou Rutten
The project Botanica was commissioned by Plart, an Italian foundation dedicated to scientific research and technological innovation in the recovery, restoration, and conservation of works of art and design produced in plastic. Marco Petroni, the curator of the project, commissioned the studio to create a personal interpretation of polymeric materials. The objects of the Botanica collection are designed as if the oil-based era, in which we are living, never took place. Almost like historians, the members of Studio Formafantasma investigated the pre-Bakelite period, discovering unexpected textures, sensations, and technical possibilities offered by natural polymers extracted from plants or animal-derivatives.

PLANT FEVER. Towards a phyto-centered design
18 October 2020 / 14 February 2021
Site du Grand-Hornu, Rue Sainte-Louise 82
B-7301 Hornu
info:  www.cid-grand-hornu.be

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