Learn with the Design Museum Lunch & Learn
Climate Club Adapt on the power of graphic design in activism
In recent years the role of the visual in climate activism has become increasingly powerful. From Olafur Eliasson’s installation of melting ice caps outside the Tate Modern in 2018, to the elaborate costumes and prop displays seen on climate marches, to the Guardian’s recent decision to use only human-centric images in their climate journalism, more and more initiatives are using the visual as a medium to highlight the immediate impacts of climate change.
Adapt are one organisation claiming the power of the visual to promote climate awareness and activism. From placards to newspapers, their bold designs reinvent climate activism for the 'social media age', with a focus on accessible and easily understandable messages. Their works often depend on the interaction of their viewers, prompting joyful engagement with their brand of people-powered activism.
They talked through some of their favourite designs.
'We partnered with the independent Green New Deal UK campaign group to design communication and campaign work. We began with creating protest placards, in agreement with UKSCN to be distributed and held at the December 2019 Climate strike. Many mass-printed placards are created for public strikes and protests, however we found that they usually displayed dull and lifeless designs, which were not contemporary or engaging. We wanted to create a design that felt bold, clear, colourful and playful at the same time. It was a massive success - all the placards got snapped up quickly, and became the primary visual at the protest.'
'We designed an alternative newspaper cover wrap for the Metro newspaper. Within it, we imagined a different media approach to the December 2019 election; climate change being the main focus. From the front page to the sports section, and every advert in between, we turned every tiny detail of the newspaper into a positive and parodical commentary on climate change and the urgent need for a Green New Deal. Once printed, the paper cover was applied to Metros and distributed across London by a large team of volunteers. We wanted to challenge people's perception on what the news could be, by mimicking a very familiar format but subverting it to be more aligned with the most urgent issue we face; the climate crisis.'
'In 2019, we put on an environmental exhibition like no other! With ever-more pressing news about climate change hitting our headlines, and a surge of action taking the country by storm, we invited people to learn about, and act on global warming. We invited 50 specially selected artists to showcase their work and contribute to a programme of events, in addition to partnering with Ecosia to launch a challenge to plant 5000 trees. We created a series of simple phrases (with quite a few bad puns thrown in too) and asked the chosen artists to respond with a piece of work. The outcomes were mainly graphic posters, but also featured were video, interactive, textile and 3D pieces, alongside a selection of our own installations and pieces. Around 1500 visitors came to the gallery to tackle the biggest issues facing the planet, from energy, to travel, to wilding, through curated information, art and actions. '
'This poster is part of a wider exhibition we held in Dublin with Hens Teeth Studio, but it just sums up what we aim to do with our work best! We aim to simplify climate information and action, whilst making it engaging, accessible and fun. We want to help minimise anxiety around the climate and convert stress into empowerment!'
'Prior to the Christmas 2019 period, we designed and printed climate conversation guides to help people navigate awkward christmas party climate chat. We created fictional profiles and provided agony-aunt style advice on how to manage frustrating exchanges with people who don’t share the same viewpoint. We self-funded and distributed these guides to almost a hundred locations around London to be taken for free by people. We also made accessible a digital PDF version for everyone to download.'
Adapt is a climate club and creative organisation, using design, humour and contemporary culture to communicate climate issues in a new way. Comprising of creatives Josie Tucker and Richard Ashton, Adapt were listed as one of the British Councils 10 emerging designers of 2019.
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