Ryan Smith MA/MSc Design: Product and Furniture

Ryan Smith

Throughout the Product and Furniture Design MA, my practice has focussed on the artful translation of narrative data to create objects which emotionally engage and encourage conversation surrounding social and environmental issues. As a designer, I believe that it is as important to be storytellers, to create design that speaks in such a way as to convey powerful messages. Instead of serving the industry, design can serve society, and instead of making people buy, it can make people think.

My final major project, the EXCAVATION collection, focuses on the mass agricultural development of the Amazon rainforest. Communicating the damaging effects mineral extraction has on the Amazonian land, the EXCAVATION collection weaves an environmental narrative within its commanding visual appeal. Translating topographical satellite imagery of open-pit mines, these vessels metaphorically communicate the destruction and financial opportunity of unregulated mining within Brazil.

Through materiality and digital interpretation, each vessel represents and is named after a specific mining operation located within the rainforest, allowing the mineral reserve of that location to determine the materiality of the vessel, and their excavated geometries to determine its interior formation. These pieces ultimately represent the destruction and opportunity of mining, asking the observer to consider the question, does the opportunity for economic growth justify the destruction of the fragile ecosystem within the Amazon rainforest?