VDF collaborates with The World Around to host online design symposium for Earth Day

Kunlé Adeyemi, Nelly Ben Hayoun and Cameron Sinclair feature in VDF's collaboration with The World Around for Earth Day

To mark Earth Day, VDF collaborated with The World Around to host a series of talks, interviews, short films and essays exploring ideas that could "shape the future of our relationship with the planet".

The programme featured designers Nelly Ben Hayoun and Thomas Thwaites and architects Kunlé Adeyemi, Cameron Sinclair and London studio Cooking Sections, whose Climavore installation is pictured above, plus curator Aric Chen and more.

It was split into three parts. The first session, which featured Adeyemi and Ben Hayoun, can be watched here. The second part, which featured a conversation between Chen and Thwaites, is available here. The third part, which included talks by Sinclair and Facebook's vice president of product design Margaret Stewart, can be watched here.

The programme also included an interview with research office Design Earth by writer Carson Chan, which you can read here, and a series of illustrations by data journalist and artist Mona Chalabi, which you can see here.

The symposium concluded with the premiere of a new short film by Andrés Jaque and Ivan Munuera, which you can watch here.

We also conducted a live video interview with curator Beatrice Galilee about the programme, which is available here.

The World Around curator Beatrice Galilee
Beatrice Galilee curated The World Around Earth Day 2020 symposium

Curated by Beatrice Galilee of The World Around in partnership with Facebook's Artist in Residence programme, the Earth Day 2020 symposium featured over twenty leading figures working on environmental issues around the world.

It took place on the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day on 22 April 1970, which saw 20 million people in the USA demonstrate against the damage human activity causes the natural environment.

Event includes interviews, short films, essays, manifestos and reflections

The online programme replaces a physical conference that Galilee was planning, which had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The convening will give a platform to the work and ideas that could shape the future of our relationship with the planet," said Galilee.

"[It will explore] ways to ethically reconnect with our food, designing, building and living with human and non-human animals, radical new forms of pedagogy, biodegradable accessories and an insight into the extreme new visual landscapes the coronavirus has generated."

Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi is one of The World Around speakers
Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi will present work including his Makoko Floating School

"The event will include interviews, short films, essays, manifestos and reflections that together create a diverse and complex voice of a generation of pluralistic practitioners designing, thinking and making with the earth and its multiverse of inhabitants in mind," she added.

The Earth Day 2020 symposium is the second event organised by The World Around, a platform for architecture and design discussions founded last year by Galilee, Diego Marroquin and Alexandra Hodkowski.

Dezeen live streamed the first The World Around event in New York in January this year.

Architect Kunlé Adeyemi and Facebook's Margaret Stewart give talks

Starting with a live conversation between Galilee and Dezeen's editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs, the Earth Day 2020 symposium was structured around three themes – Rethink, Reimagine and Recreate.

Each part of the event was broadcast in a separate post on a dedicated page as part of Virtual Design Festival.

Designer Thomas Thwaites is one of speakers at The World Around Earth Day symposium
Designer Thomas Thwaites is one of speakers at The World Around Earth Day symposium

The first part of the symposium included a talk by Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi, alongside a series of discussions.

Writer and curator Maite Borjbad spoke to London research studio Cooking Sections, curator Sepake Angiama talked with French experience designer Nelly Ben Hayoun, and Pratt University dean of architecture Harriet Harris had a conversation with philosopher Timothy Morton.

The second part of the programme included short films by Kalyanee Mam and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, as well as two more discussions: curator Aric Chen spoke to designer Thomas Thwaites, while curator Mariana Pestana was in conversation with architecture firm Studio Ossidiana.

These talks were followed by an interview with collaborative architecture practice Design Earth conducted by curator and writer Carson Chan, and the unveiling of a series of new Earth Day illustrations by data journalist and artist Mona Chalabi.

Transscalar Architecture of COVID-19 by Andrés Jaque and Ivan Munuera
The symposium will close with a premiere of the short film The Transscalar Architecture of Covid-19

The third and final part of the talks series featured talks by Facebook's vice president of product design Margaret Stewart, architect Cameron Sinclair, visual artist Amanda Williams, and landscape artist Walter Hood, as well as a conversation between curator Karen van Godtsenhoven and designer Mats Rombaut.

The symposium concluded with an exclusive screening of a new short film called The Transscalar Architecture of Covid-19 by Andrés Jaque and Ivan Munuera.

Here's the programme, including links to each piece of content:


VDF x The World Around Earth Day 2020 symposium schedule

1:00pm Live interview with The World Around curator Beatrice Galilee

2:00pm Live broadcast of part one of the symposium, titled Rethink

  • Cooking Sections in conversation with Maite Borjabad
  • Nelly Ben Hayoun in conversation with Sepake Angiama
  • Kunlé Adeyemi in conversation with Beatrice Galilee
  • Harriet Harriss in conversation with Timothy Morton

4:00pm Live broadcast of part two of the symposium, titled Reimagine

  • Malika Leiper in conversation with Kalyanee Mam, plus film screening
  • Aric Chen in conversation with Thomas Thwaites
  • Mariana Pestana in conversation with Studio Ossidiana
  • Apichatpong Weerasethakul in conversation with Andrea Lissoni, plus film screening

6:00pm Design Earth interview by Carson Chan

7:00pm Earth Day illustrations by Mona Chalabi

8:00pm Live broadcast of part three of the symposium, titled Recreate

  • Cameron Sinclair talk
  • Amanda Williams talk
  • Karen van Godtsenhoven in conversation with Mats Rombaut
  • Margaret Stewart talk
  • Walter Hood talk

9:30pm Premiere of The Transscalar Architecture of COVID-19 short film by Andrés Jaque and Ivan Munuera

Biographies of all the speakers are available on The World Around's website.