by Jerry ElengicalJan 07, 2022
Can sustainability go hand in hand with having a good time?
The hospitality sector in its approach to realising comfort and enjoyment for users has traditionally been an antidote to sustainability. The proliferation of single use plastic and copious amount of trash that ends up in landfills by the hospitality and tourism industry has for a long time eluded the ambition of attaining a circular economy. However, hospitality brand Potato Head went to great lengths to pursue zero waste. Twelve years ago it opened the Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak, Bali, as a tropical modernist creative village, on a mission towards a zero-waste hospitality. Drawing from Bali’s inherent tradition of duality and balance, the brand in its choices of designs, facilities, collaborators, practices, and philosophy, committed to reducing the waste it puts into landfill every year.
An exhibition titled N*thing is Possible is tracing the journey of Potato Head’s progress in achieving zero waste across disciplines of design, creativity and culture. The three-month long showcase is curated by the brand’s long-time collaborator OMA and its Managing Partner David Gianotten with Shinji Takagi. Hosted at the National Design Centre in Singapore, and opened alongside the recent Singapore Design Week (September 16-25, 2022), the showcase puts forth a key lesson in sustainability. The curation upholds the fact that zero waste and the experience of comfort and enjoyment are not mutually exclusive, and that creative efforts across disciplines can transform materials at the 'end' of their lifecycles into a reservoir of resources.
The atrium of the 1000 sqm exhibition space is transformed into an immersive landscape of waste illustrated using objects, photographs, and videos. Scattered on the ground as piling heaps of trash comprising plastic, bamboo, timber, textile, glass, and Styrofoam waste, the overwhelming nature of the presentation captures the amount of waste that’s generated by our daily habits. A somewhat ordered chaos of the visual curation guides visitors to see beyond the surface of the waste and to interrogate the aesthetic within.
In contrast to the orchestrated disorderliness of the ground, suspended from the ceiling are installations made of the same waste that lies below. The compositions – reflecting the potential of our everyday trash - include a circular assembly of stools made of bamboo, a series of chairs built using regenerated plastic, and everyday objects made from trash textiles, to name a few. Central to this showcase is a fenestration pattern created using discarded wooden shutters. Projected on a circular metal framework erected on the ground, the work sits in the middle of the atrium, creating a dialogue between the waste landscape and its creative transformations. These works have been designed by long-term collaborators of Potato Head which includes Indonesian architect Andra Matin, Catalan industrial designer Andreu Carulla, Jakarta design studio BYO Living, Bali-based environmental engineers Eco Mantra, American artist Futura, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, British furniture designer Max Lamb, French director and photographer Thibaut Grevet, London-based design studio Toogood, and the National University of Singapore.
The exhibition also includes a timeline chronicling Potato Head’s journey since 2010, especially highlighting its zero waste initiatives in Bali. The brand’s operating schemes are further elaborated through an open-source presentation of the ongoing waste management program at Desa Potato Head, a resort in Bali.
Further into the exhibition, installations by street artist Futura take over the courtyard space, creating an informal gathering area, whereas a circular gift shop placed at the exit presents products and installations made of recycled plastic waste.
N*thing is Possible is pivoted on the mantra, 'Good Times, Do Good'. It fosters the idea that "there is not a single global standard for sustainability and that sustainability is an ongoing exploration of new ways of creating and living based on available local resources and knowledge sharing.” Long-time collaborators Potato Head and OMA aim to amplify this tenet through realising a new world of hospitality design that’s not only comforting, but caring too. Adding to this, Ronald Akili, Founder of Potato Head shares, “Hospitality has long been the source of so much waste and destruction, however after years of committing to doing better and making many mistakes along the way, we have discovered that it can be a force of good for the environment and local communities. Through collaborations with visionaries that share our mission of building a more sustainable tomorrow, we are able to approach each problem as an opportunity to make something beautiful. We hope that our journey can inspire and facilitate change so that our industry can be a sustainable one.”