Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival

Sam Jacob looks to a future when ocean plastic outnumbers fish

Sam Jacob has reimagined a famous Eames textile for his London Design Festival installation Sea Things, to highlight the threat ocean plastic poses to marine life.

The architect has used motion graphics to create a cartoon-style animation, which is suspended over the heads of visitors arriving at the V&A museum in London.

Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
Jacob has used motion graphics to create a cartoon-style animation

It is based on a pattern of fish and sea creatures, created by Charles and Ray Eames, which Jacob found in the V&A's textiles collection. He has updated it, but added waste objects like plastic bottles.

The animation starts in 1907, the year that Bakelite – one of the first commercial plastic products – was launched. It ends in 2050, the year the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts that the volume of plastic will be greater than marine life in the world's oceans.

Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
It is based on a textile of fish and sea creatures, by Charles and Ray Eames

"The Eames' were working in a very optimistic time when consumerism was linked to freedom," explained Sam Jacob during a tour of the installation.

"For us, now, we're working in a very different context. Our relationship to things, to production, to ecology is far more difficult and complex," he told journalists.

"So what we've done here is to remake the Eames' pattern from the perspective of 2019."

Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
The animation shows plastic objects added to the ocean scene

The film is playing inside a four-metre-wide cube with mirrored edges, to create the impression of an endless landscape.

Jacob hopes to encourage people to think more carefully about their relationship with plastic products, and maybe change the future. He is not the only one – designers including Brodie Neill and Stella McCartney have been trying to do the same.

"It's not quite the end," said Jacob. "This is not necessarily our fate, because if we can change our behaviour and our systems of economics and production, we can make the world better, or maybe less worse than it might otherwise be."

Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
Jacob is also presenting historic water vessels reimagined in new materials

The installation continues upstairs in the ceramics galleries, where Jacob is presenting a series of eight water vessels.

Seven of these are reproductions of historic objects from the V&A's collections, remade in new materials.

A duck water pot from China's Ming Dynasty is reproduced in recycled plastic, while a 4,000-year-old beaker from Scotland is recreated in a bioplastic made from sea shells. There is also an 18th century plate remade in coconut matting and bioresin.

Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
A 4,000-year-old beaker is remade in a bioplastic derived from sea shells

The eighth object is a ceramic version of the ubiquitous plastic bottle, described as "a poster child for the waste inherent in our societies".

"Each of them asks the question, what will we do [going forward]?" added Jacob.

Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
The exhibition includes a ceramic version of the ubiquitous plastic bottle

Sea Things is one of several projects on show at the V&A for London Design Festival 2019, which opened at the weekend and continues until 22 September. Other highlights include installations by architects Kengo Kuma and Studio Micat.

Jacob is also currently working on a project to redesign the V&A's Cromwell Road entrance, where this installation is located.

Photography is by Ed Reeve.

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Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival
Sea Things by Sam Jacob at V&A for London Design Festival