Social business models have found a new platform … the Venice Biennale! The major theme of the Biennale changes from year to year and the focus in 2008 is architecture and space.
I expected to be dazzled by a buffet of cultural treats on my recent visit to this international arts mega fair, and was pleasantly impressed by the number of exhibits which highlighted social and environmental solutions to some of the biggest issues facing our planet.
Some of the more provocative displays included painted images of ‘Trashbergs’ – giant mountains of garbage that collect in the ocean.
Another interesting concept which stuck in my mind, from the Italian pavilion, was an exhibit which modelled various scenes of dystopia, including one where most natural plan life had been replaced by photovoltaic trees.
The future-forward German pavilion was definitely a highlight. As a self-proclaimed social business model junky, I had to be dragged out of the room that assembled innovative ideas on how to reuse waste. One idea was to create water bottles that when stacked up together could create housing. Brilliant!
Another involved reusing fabric from clothing to create funky furniture. Nothing terribly new about this idea, except that they have been really well designed and are surprisingly comfortable.
The Dutch pavilion was fairly text heavy, but focussed on sustainable cities and the mega environmental meeting in Copenhagen next year. In addition to a black room with the full text of the Kyoto Protocol there were some interesting essays on the future of cities. Check out the link to the Ecotopia exhibit at www.sustainablecities.dk.
I’m still not sure what to make of a forest of trees that were hooked up to drips in one of the exhibits…but all in all it was a compelling afternoon in Venice.