Times of Waste Symposium: Material Research in the Museum on 18 and 19 March 2020


The cycle of consuming and throwing away, as it is perpetuated worldwide today, must inevitably come to an end. An important aspect in the discussion is the material that is used, disposed of, but also archived and musealised. This is where the Times of Waste symposium comes in. The symposium takes its title from the exhibition Design Lab #5 Times of Waste, the result of a research project on the smartphone as a disposable product.

In cooperation with the research team of the FHNW Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Basel (FHNW HGK), the Cluster Matters of Activity (MoA) of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Kunstgewerbemuseum will become an interdisciplinary research laboratory on 18 and 19 March 2020. Speakers from practice and theory will meet at the interfaces between design, technology and science and highlight the latest findings in research into sustainable materials and their potential for design practice. In parallel, the role of museums as representatives, preservers and recyclers of analogue material worlds will be examined.

Design Lab #5: Times of Waste – The Leftover

As part of Design Lab #5, the Kunstgewerbemuseum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin presents the exhibition Times of Waste – The Leftover, which emerged from a transdisciplinary research project and was realized for the German context in collaboration with Flavia Caviezel and Mirjam Bürgin of the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Basel.

Waste can be a promising resource or an annoying rest, waste is political and social, but above all unavoidable. Waste never disappears completely and always leaves traces. Times of Waste – The Leftover focuses on the life of a smartphone, looking at typical everyday technology of our time that leaves behind many forms of waste, starting with the extraction of the raw materials it contains.

The transformation processes of the smartphone

The exhibition provides an insight into the Times of Waste research project, which explores the transformation processes of the smartphone and its components using artistic-scientific methods: an object biography maps various transport routes and recycling routes. It tells of economic transformations and new relationships, of local and global contexts. Investigation leads the researchers to landfills and shredders, to repair shops, research laboratories, and to various materials and people.

Download: Programme for the Symposium “Times of Waste” (PDF, 130 KB)