2021 Exhibition

Waste Age

We live in the age of waste. Design helped create the problem, but could it be crucial in solving it?

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What to expect

Discover how the production of waste has escalated since the mid-twentieth century and face the epic scale of this man-made crisis through immersive installations.

Explore imaginative new approaches and ingenious new materials that will help shape a cleaner future and discover how you can play your part in ending the waste age.

Telling the story of the environmental crisis created by our ‘take, make, waste’ economy, the exhibition explores how design can transform our waste into new valuable resources, and how design can help usher in a new age where there is no such thing as waste.

Advisory panel

Understanding and measuring sustainability is complex, so for this important exhibition, the museum has formed an advisory panel of leading experts with diverse, extensive and specialist knowledge of sustainability and design.

The museum would like to thank the following for their time, support and advice on this project.

Jane Withers

Jane Withers is a leading design curator, consultant and writer. Her London-based studio works with cultural institutions and global brands on curation, programming and design-led strategies. Withers teaches and speaks internationally and has served on numerous juries and advisory boards. She has a long record working with sustainability and the role that design can play in tackling social, cultural and environmental challenges, particularly, the future of water.

Joe Iles

As Circular Design Programme Lead at Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Joe's role is to inspire and empower designers to create products, services, and systems for the circular economy. Part of the team since 2011, Joe has helped shape the circular economy narrative, crafting stories and messages to reach new audiences and improve understanding of the topic. He has worked closely on Circulate, their news channel for events including the flagship Summit in London, and the digital festival of ideas Disruptive Innovation.

Joycelyn Longdon

Founder of ClimateInColour, a platform dedicated to making climate science and environmental issues more accessible and diverse, Joycelyn is a PhD student currently researching the application of artificial intelligence to climate change at Cambridge University. As a diasporic woman of colour, Joycelyn cannot see climate justice without racial and social justice. Her work in the tech and science space also focuses on centring indigenous knowledge systems and marginalised voices in algorithms.

Marcos Cruz

Marcos Cruz is an Architect and Professor of Innovative Environments at the Bartlett. He is the Director of Bio-ID, a cross-disciplinary research platform between architecture and biochemical engineering co-created with Dr Brenda Parker to develop new forms of bio-integrated design for the built environment. In addition to his practice and academic leadership, Cruz’s research focuses on the utilisation of living matter in buildings, from neoplasmatic design to bioreceptive materials and poikilohydric systems.

Natsai Audrey Chieza

Founder and CEO at Faber Futures, Chieza is a leading thinker on the transformative role design can play in the equitable development of consumer biotechnology. A member of the Global Futures Council on Synthetic Biology, Chieza established novel design-driven processes and conceptual frameworks for bacteria textile colouration, which have been exhibited internationally. She leads a team that translates value and transforms systems across education, design, life science, and manufacturing industries.

Rebecca Earley

Rebecca is an award-winning designer and Professor of Sustainable Fashion Textile Design at the UAL. She is based at Chelsea College of Arts where she is Co-Founder and Director of Centre for Circular Design (CCD). Rebecca's practice and research encompass making materials and prototypes, exhibition curation and writing. She particularly enjoys the challenge of educating and inspiring audiences into more sustainable choices and actions towards circular futures.

Sophie Thomas

Sophie is a campaigner, designer and Chartered Waste Manager who investigates and promotes circular economy design principles. For over 20 years, she has been working in sustainable and ethical design, behavioural change and material processes through her London-based agency, Thomas.Matthews. Her work with the charity Common Seas and as a founder of The Great Recovery have shaped her as a leading consultant in sustainable product design.

Zoe Laughlin

Co-founder and Director of the Institute of Making at UCL, Zoe works at the interface of science, art, craft, design and engineering. Her work ranges from formal experiments with matter to large-scale public exhibitions and events. The first woman to receive the Gerald Frewer Memorial Trophy by the Institution of Engineering Designers in 2019 for her outstanding contributions to design engineering. In 2018, Zoe made the award-winning documentary The Secret Life of Landfill and is currently working on a follow-up.


As an independent charity that supports itself mainly through ticket sales, the museum has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Please consider supporting the museum in its mission to make the impact of design visible to all.

Coming soon

Discover what else is coming up in 2021 including one of the great furniture designers and architects of the twentieth century in Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life and the footwear phenomenon that has shaken the world of fashion in Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street.

Background image Oxford Tire Pile #1, Westley, California, USA, 1999 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.