Good design is often viewed as innovative, or functional or sleek, cool, white - the classic Apple aesthetic so many are desperate to replicate. However, what if a product isn't really functional and the aesthetics make our stomach's turn.
'Cao Hui ... created a series of hyper realistic sculptures, including a couch and chair, gloves, and a suitcase, all presumably made of leather. But instead of showing the pretty polished pieces of furniture we normally see in shop windows, he exposes the parts of animals sacrificed in order to keep their skin. In so doing, it forces the viewer to think more carefully about the materials used to create every day objects.'
Here we are met with another uncomfortable truth. Many households have a stylish leather sofa or you may even be wearing a pair of leather shoes at this very moment. Leather is usually associated with quality and to own a product made from 'genuine leather' becomes a badge of affluence and products like these deem quality superior over ethics. Quality does not need to be achieved inhumanely but the emotional connection of leather equals quality can trump the gruesome truth.
As I stated earlier, Hui's concepts will not be winning any aesthetic or even functional awards anytime soon but this collection has been created for a different reason: it has been designed for impact. The project is totally self-explanatory or with just the mention of 'leather' you could connect the dots. Again, consumers attempt to shroud their 'less ethical' choices as they don't want to be labelled the bad guy for wanting a nice product. This is where we must enforce the demand for 'something better'. Alternatives that do not have a cruel past and one where the consumer can make an ethical choice without compromising on quality.
With a startling rise in both vegetarianism and veganism in the past decade, the demand for cruelty-free alternative's has increased dramatically. Companies are emerging that are seeing the demand for these alternatives and working hard to make dramatically realistic dupes of the original. A great example is the emerging company called Piñatex™.
Made from pineapple leaf fibres, Piñatex™ is a branded natural and sustainable material which can be used as an alternative to existing textiles and leathers.
If a material or product matches in quality, similar in cost, an environmentally friendly approach and the only difference you can provide is that the original is literally the skin of a innocent cow that is when design has an impact and inspires change.
Laylin, T. (2016). Creepy fleshy art by Cao Hui makes it painfully clear what everyday are objects are made of. [online] Inhabitat.com. Available at: http://inhabitat.com/creepy-fleshy-art-by-cao-hui-makes-it-painfully-clear-what-every-day-are-objects-are-made-of/ [Accessed 21 Oct. 2016].
ananas anam. (2016). ananas anam - New materials for a new world. [online] Available at: http://www.ananas-anam.com/ [Accessed 21 Oct. 2016].
looking for me?