An eco-friendly detour

An eco-friendly detour

A fun, thought-provoking design festival highlights some vital green issues

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The Detour 2011 eco-friendly festival features several thought-provoking installations and exhibits, including 'recycled' polar bears, a laptop sprouting green shoots and a wall of adoptable potted plants.
The Detour 2011 eco-friendly festival features several thought-provoking installations and exhibits, including 'recycled' polar bears, a laptop sprouting green shoots and a wall of adoptable potted plants.
Photos: Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design
Hong Kong's biggest annual art and design festival is back after its smashing success last year when it attracted 50,000 visitors.

Set right next to the stylish streets of Soho in Central, Detour 2011 has transformed the former police married quarters in Hollywood Road into one of the city's hippest exhibition spaces.

This stimulating blend of exhibitions, installations and workshops runs until December 11, and features innovative creations from up-and-coming foreign and local designers.

Organised by the Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design, Detour boldly showcases a range of eco-friendly creations designed to improve our lifestyle while raising awareness of environmental issues in our city.

The event's motto is "Do you use less? Or are you useless?" Detour is hardly your run-of-the-mill arts fair. Rather, it showcases bold attitudes and visions from recycling to energy saving.

The festival, which offers free entrance, seeks to put paid to the notion that fine design is a form of luxury affordable only to people with deep pockets.

"Design is pervasive," says Grant Preisser, associate vice-president of the Savannah College of Art and Design in Hong Kong. "Everything we interact with in our lives has been designed by someone else."

The exhibition area spreads over two buildings and spills out into a courtyard.

A highlight is the grand Weaving Forest installation by Super Nature, a design studio based in Shanghai. It features deer-like structures made out of recycled wood.

The interactive installation encourages visitors to weave freely available yarn into their own patterns. The idea is to highlight the interconnections between humans and their environment in a creative manner by promoting communal responsibility.

Nearby awaits Run Away Polar Bear, a cuddly polar bear bike in disguise by local designer duo Graphic Airlines, who reused old cloths for their interactive installation.

They want to urge us to forego cars, taxis and buses in favour of our bikes. Ice-cap structures surround the polar bear to bring attention to the threat of global warming to our polar ice caps.

On the way through the upper corridors is Tornado, an installation made by the students of the Hong Kong Design Institute. They used 10,000 pieces of waste materials to highlight the vast mountains of rubbish we produce each year from plastic bottles.

Filling an entire room, the installation features a collection of illuminated plastic bottles turned upside down and stringed structures of swirling tornados.

Local creative laboratory On Your Mark has two exhibits: Use Less Time on Your Computer, Spend More Time in Action and PlantsWall.

The first features a laptop with seedlings growing out of its keyboard. The point of the exhibit is to remind us that just learning about green issues online will not help the environment. Rather, we need to get off Facebook and Twitter and get down to the business of getting out and doing things for the sake of the environment.

The next exhibit is linked to this idea. It features a wall full of small potted plants that visitors can name and take home after the exhibition. By "adopting" a plant and tending to it, you can try your hand at looking after a piece of nature.

For more information, visit www.detour.hk

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