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Towards a climate sustainable future

Thursday, 15 October 2020Photo showing a small tree encapsulated in a half-broken 'globe' representing Earth

About this event

While we have all been busy figuring out the endless stream of ’new normals’ brought about by COVID, the climate emergency has not gone away. Indeed, recent circumstances have brought some issues into even sharper relief: the desire for economic recovery to be tied to strong green priorities seems to be ever widely held. As an industry, the need to take action and reduce our carbon footprint is more urgent and more immediate than ever. We need to work towards sustainability by creating and consuming less; our businesses need to understand the full scope of their environmental impacts; and we need to ensure that products make better use of fewer resources.

This event via Zoom explores how ‘green thinking’ can be applied to wayfinding design and manufacturing processes and the lifecycle of products. The evening’s speakers include Erik Sørensen Ruiz from Modulex providing insights into the company’s approach. We will also hear from Adele Orcajada from MaterialDriven about ‘future proofing’ and the types of materials and innovation that can provide the toolkit for better and more environmentally sustainable architecture, urban environments, wayfinding, and smarter products. Nick Hughes from UCL will introduce two important framing concepts, ‘the circular economy’ and resource management hierarchy, for understanding resource efficiency.  Practical examples of how such principles can be implemented will also be explored, including cases involving materials and production, energy efficiency, power and lighting, and ‘ecodesign’ principles to reduce waste and extend life.

A range of materials and projects will be discussed within the presentations to illustrate how architecture and design are making this change.

About our speakers

Nick Hughes is Researcher at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. He has a PhD in energy policy from Imperial College London. His areas of interest are low carbon energy and sustainable resource use, implications for society and policy solutions. He has engaged with topics including renewable energy innovation policy, electricity networks, land use and resource governance, resource efficiency and circular economy policies. He is also interested in longer-term future trajectories of sustainable transitions, considering political as well as social and technological dynamics.

University College London (UCL) was founded in 1826 in Bloomsbury, in the heart of London. From 2005, the Institute has branded itself as UCL (rather than University College London) and has used the strapline “London’s Global University”. It is one of London’s leading multidisciplinary academic institutions, with more than 42,000 students from 150 different countries. In 2002 a planned merger with Imperial was successfully defeated, with the body of Jeremy Bentham (regarded as the inspiration behind the founding of the College) brought back onto public display to defend UCL. Renowned for its academic excellence, 29 Nobel Laureates have been based at UCL, including Rabindranath Tagore (1913 Literature), Otto Hahn (1944 Physics) and Francis Crick (1962 Physiology of Medicine).

Erik Sørensen Ruiz works as an Environmental and Marketing Consultant for Modulex Billund, with a remit to promote and reinforce the company’s environmental profile. He is currently in the final year of his degree course in Politics and International Relations (environmental policy his area of particular interest) at Exeter University, having spent his ‘industry placement’ year as an intern helping Modulex to achieve its goal to become the green alternative among sign manufacturers. He is passionate about furthering the sustainability agenda and incorporating the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals within corporate development.

Modulex have been present in the UK market since 1979. The Denmark-based parent company was founded in 1963 by the LEGO Group. Modulex operate as a global network with a presence in more than 300 cities across 45 countries. With a focus on visual communication solutions within the built environment, Modulex provide one-stop project management, supply and installation to clients around the world. Their cross-sector experience, global vision and local reach enable them to handle projects of any size and complexity.

Adele Orcajada is a Partner in MaterialDriven. Adele has been a material researcher, librarian and curator since 2014, having worked for HMKM and The SCIN Gallery, before becoming involved at MaterialDriven, where she continues to explore material innovation with brands and institutions. A Central Saint Martins graduate, Adele has a background as a fashion accessories designer and product developer, sourcing materials and transforming them into products for high street fashion brands as well as fair trade initiatives. She has lectured at fashion and design schools in Spain and the UK, including Accademia del Lusso, Royal College of Arts and Ravensbourne. Adele also regularly contributes to Fashion Revolution’s Open Studio and The Maiyet Collective’s series at Harvey Nichols and The Festival of Making. Her talks are on cutting edge topics such as material innovation, sustainability and circular economy. Her essay on regenerative design will be included in the soon-to-be-published Slow Fashion to Save Minds by Laundry Arts Service.

MaterialDriven is a design agency and materials library launched in 2016 and based in London and Dallas. Their expertise lies in locating and sourcing innovative materials, as well as understanding their applications, and impact across industries. This collection serves as the basis for projects and connections that Adele and her partner Purva Chawla enable between the developers of new materials and those seeking to learn about and apply them. Leveraging their skills as both designers and materials experts, MaterialDriven provide market intelligence, sourcing, design, and the end to end delivery of products and experiences. Their work covers consulting, curation and education. The agency’s clients range from fast-moving consumer goods companies to architectural studios, fashion brands, museums, trade events and universities.

Register for this event

This talk is free for SDS members. For non-members the ticket cost is £10 per person. To join our Zoom talk, please get in touch with our administrator Kate at for the event link, ID and password.

[Note: this event will be recorded and available to paid-up SDS members via our Talks Archive within a week of taking place.]


Virtually via Zoom


15 Oct 2020 18:00

Price : £10.00

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