Dezeen Magazine

Design should "transform people's realities" says Resolve Collective

Interdisciplinary design studio Resolve Collective talks to Dezeen about its community-focussed designs ahead of the opening of its exhibition at the Barbican Centre later this month, in this exclusive video produced by Dezeen.

The design collective will transform the Barbican's Curve gallery, building a wave-like installation on site using materials that have been recycled and foraged from cultural institutions and exhibitions across London and the south coast of England.

Called Resolve Collective: them's the breaks, the installation will be accompanied by a programme of events, workshops and parties that take place during its run, which has been curated by Barbican assistant curator and Dezeen contributor Jon Astbury.

Resolve Collective members Seth and Akil Scafe-Smith and Melissa Haniff pushing a trolley of discarded materials
Resolve is formed by brothers Seth and Akil Scafe-Smith and Melissa Haniff. Photo by Becky Payne

Resolve Collective, which is led by brothers Seth and Akil Scafe-Smith and Melissa Haniff, aims to work at the intersection of art, architecture, engineering and technology in a bid to address social issues.

Speaking to Dezeen in an exclusive interview, Akil Scafe-Smith explained that the collective's design philosophy puts vernacular design at the forefront of its work, prioritising the use of locally available resources and methodologies to address local design needs.

"For us, community-focussed design is about celebrating the knowledge that people have of their local areas, and how to transform their realities and their worlds," Akil Scafe-Smith said.

"What we want to try and do is shine a light on a method that is anti-institutional and actually thinks about the dissipation of resources and the platforming of local organisations, who are operating in a different way," added Seth Scafe-Smith.

Resolve Collective's Common Threads installation of brightly coloured textiles
Resolve's project Common Threads explored how anxiety is perceived across different cultures. Photo by George Torode

The design collective aims to use a community-first approach, using the site of each project as a resource and point of reference in of itself, which enables the use local materials and knowledge to foster socio-economic change within communities.

"For us, design – as much as process – is an exercise in re-seeing and reconsidering the things around us," Akil Scafe-Smith said.

"It's about how we can positively transform people's neighbourhoods in their everyday lives."

Resolve Collective's Rebel Space installation at night
Rebel Space was constructed as part of the Brixton Design Trail

Resolve's first project was called Rebel Space, created as part of the London Design Festival in 2016, which featured a temporary pavilion in Brixton made out of materials that were sourced within a one-mile radius of the site.

It hosted seven days and seven nights of events, parties, film screenings, discussions and workshops.

Another project by the design group was called Summer House, in which Resolve invited three different Black practitioners based in Brighton to take over a space to highlight the work that they do within their community.

Resolve Collective's What the Wild Things Are installation at Wellcome Collection
Resolve's work was shown at an exhibition at Wellcome Collection

The group recently worked with Wellcome Collection in collaboration with the De la Waar Pavilion and West Dean College on a series of exhibitions and workshops.

Called What the Wild Things Are, the project explored rewilding, as well as the symbiotic relationships between humans and nature, using outcomes from each local workshop to inform a response.

Dezeen will be publishing an exclusive video with Resolve Collective presenting its new collaboration with the Barbican shortly after the installation opens on 30 March.

Resolve Collective: them's the breaks opens at the Barbican Centre on 30 March 2023 and is on show until 16 July 2023. For more international events, talks and showcases in architecture and design, visit Dezeen's Events Guide.

Partnership content

This video was produced by Dezeen for the Barbican Centre as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen's partnership content here.