As the end of our finite resources looms into view, the quest for alternative energy becomes an increasingly recurring topic on the design agenda. But even though it’s all but impossible to ignore the urgency of the situation, which is emphasized daily in publications and documentaries, many of us think of electricity as an easily accessible commodity, available to all. To create awareness of the problem, more and more designers are addressing the relationship between people and energy in projects that map and monitor the consumption of electricity.
Also disclosing hidden energies are Alice Bonicelli and Lorena Rubio Toledo, master’s students at the Piet Zwart Institute, which presented Next Habitat, a group exhibition displaying scenarios for the future. Bonicelli and Rubio Toledo suggest using the network of invisible electromagnetic radiation – the result of the boom in electronic devices – as open-source energy. Their wireless lamps, bearing the name Radio Killed the Electric Star, are activated by contact with an electric field. Contributors to Next Habitat also included Julia Schostak and Pawel Szubert, who showed Current Alchemy, a project illustrating how to grow and crystallize electricity that can be converted into a ‘raw material for consumption’. The gemstones produced by the device they developed make the elusiveness of energy palpable – the intangible tangible.