An Imperial College London alumnus has won an Arts Foundation Futures Award Fellowships 2023 for her innovations that tackle climate change.
The Dyson School of Design Engineering’s Louise Skajem, who graduated from Imperial and Royal College of Art’s MA/MSc Global Innovation Design in 2022, won the £10,000 Fellowship Award for Bio Design. Her work uses material exploration and biomimicry to design innovations that tackle climate change.
The Bio Design Award champions designers working with biomaterials and who are striving to accelerate our transition away from extractive and carbon-centric design and materials. The award supports ambitious practices and design innovations that work towards symbiosis with nature.
The winners were revealed at an award ceremony on 23 February 2023, presented in partnership with Leeds 2023: Year of Culture, featuring a special welcome address from British visual artist, Claudette Johnson MBE.
Presenting the award was Sarah Wigglesworth, Founder of Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, who said: “All of the designers showed huge commitment and purpose in their research which is changing our response to the natural world. Often starting with a natural product or condition, these designers seek new uses and applications for these self-generating resources that could mean we touch the planet more lightly.
"The winning Fellow, Louise Lenborg Skajem stood out for the quality of her practice and original ideas, which have a practical application to a societal issue. While being visionary, one of her projects, ‘Resting Reef’ was also eminently realisable and a beautiful solution that regenerates ecologies. It was also superbly communicated.”
This award will allow me to move my experiments out of my kitchen and find a suitable studio space, which I am very excited about. Louise Skajem MA/MSc Global Innovation Design alum
Louise said: “There are so many talented people working in this field, so I was very honoured to be shortlisted in the first place. I am still processing the fact that I won the Award and how this changes a lot for me going forward.”
Her most recent project, Resting Reef - launched with fellow Imperial alum Aura Murillo - is an eco-burial service that uses crushed oyster shells and bone ash to build reef structures that enhance marine growth.
She added: “I will now be able to dedicate my full time to Resting Reef, a project Aura Murillo and I started during our masters at Imperial and the Royal College of Art. This award will also allow me to move my experiments out of my kitchen and find a suitable studio space, which I am very excited about.”
Louise is an interdisciplinary designer who uses material exploration and biomimicry as methods to design innovations that tackle climate change. Louise’s creative journey started after she completed a foundation year in Paris, graduated with a BA in Design from Goldsmiths University and a MA/MSc in Global Innovation Design at The Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, and co-founded two companies. As a designer, Louise enjoys mixing scientific research and innovative thinking to create novel sustainable ideas for the real world.
The UK funeral services industry in the UK is estimated to be worth nearly £3 billion, and the average cost of dying in the UK is £9,200. Resting Reef aims to redirect this money away from polluting, outdated practices towards impactful restoration projects while providing meaningful legacies. The project is currently in a start-up development phase, with plans to launch its first product in Spring 2023.
The annual Futures Award for Bio Design champions designers working with biomaterials to accelerate the transition from extractive and carbon-centric design and materials. The award supports ambitious practices and design innovations that work towards symbiosis with nature.
We are greatly encouraged by the ambition and collaborative practice of Louise Lenborg Skajem’s work and all the shortlisted designers working with materials and design approaches that are regenerative, with the capacity to restore, renew or revitalise the environment. Mary Jane Edwards Director, Arts Foundation
The annual Arts Foundation Futures Awards support the UK’s most promising artists and creatives at a pivotal moment in their career, providing £65,000 in unconditional grant funding, awarding five transformative £10,000 Fellowships, with all shortlisted artists receiving £1,000 towards the development of their practice.
The award was given in partnership with The David Collins Foundation.
Mary Jane Edwards, Director of The Arts Foundation said: “We are thrilled to work in partnership with The David Collins Foundation to continue our support of forward-looking designers and creative practitioners. We are greatly encouraged by the ambition and collaborative practice of Louise Lenborg Skajem’s work and all the shortlisted designers working with materials and design approaches that are regenerative, with the capacity to restore, renew or revitalise the environment.
"We have no doubt their respective work will have a significant impact, not only from a biomaterial design-research perspective but also in moving the dial on complex, long-term environmental change.”
This story was adapted from a press release by the Arts Foundation.
Main image: Arts Foundation
Image: Resting Reef
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