At the end of February 2022 Make Good: Rethinking Material Futures launched at the V&A with a symposium in the Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre. Here we share the recordings from the sold-out event.
The symposium brought together a panel of speakers inviting us to consider how we can care for forests, and what forestry can teach us about circularity in design and architecture. The V&A’s Director Tristram Hunt opened the day with a speech about the museum’s sustainability aims, followed by thought-provoking talks by academics, architects, artists, and designers. There was time for a Q&A at the end of each talk and these generated animated conversations between audience members and speakers. The symposium was structured into four main sections and below are the recordings of each of these.
In this first section Dr. Kate A. Hardwick from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, spoke about the context that led her to publish an influential research paper on ten golden rules for reforestation. Johanna Gibbons, Landscape Architect and Founder of J&L Gibbons, followed with a talk about her pioneering practice of urban forestry.
Dr Gabriel Hemery, Forest Scientist and Co-founder of the Sylva Foundation, gave a light-hearted but powerful speech about the importance of forests culturally, environmentally, and economically. He was followed by Sebastian Cox, designer and furniture maker, who talked about his unique approach to sourcing local materials and managing a forest, as part of his studio practice.
Disruption to international travel due to the pandemic meant that Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of the design studio Formafantasma, joined via a pre-recorded session from Milan. They spoke about Cambio—an ever-growing research project into the timber industry. This was followed by an in-person talk by Dr Victor Deklerck, Research Leader for the World Forest ID Programme at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He spoke about creating the world’s largest reference library for identifying wood.
This final section kicked off with a pre-recorded interview with designer and furniture maker Mac Collins, in which he spoke about how fundamental wood is in his award-winning design practice. Gitta Gschwendtner talked about how a rare project of making furniture in the forest influenced her approach to design and, last but not least, Daniel and Saki Coppen of Playfool shared insights on making through play and how they developed the Forest Crayons. John Makepeace OBE, the supporter of Make Good: Rethinking Material Futures finally concluded the series of talks with a summing up of the day.
After the symposium, speakers and the audience made their way through the closed museum to the Dr Susan Weber Gallery of Furniture for the opening of From the Forest.
The Make Good symposium will take place annually at the V&A, and we are already working on the next event, due to take place in February 2023. We will share more information about the project in coming weeks.