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Unmaking Waste 2015 Conference

Hosted by the Zero Waste SA Research Centre for Sustainable Design and Behaviour, UniSA

Call for Abstracts – due November 30

We are inviting researchers and professionals interested in sustainability, consumption and waste to visit us next year for a special conference, to be held in the University of South Australia, here in Adelaide, in May 2015. This promises to be a memorable event, combining research from many disciplines to answer some of the most intractable questions undermining or limiting our quest for greater sustainability. The conference will address consumption as the ‘engine-room’ of waste, and look at ways and means of moving towards a circular economy within four broad themes:

  1. Engaging Values and Innovative Practices
    Most advertising and marketing seeks to make us aware of what we lack, especially in the eyes of others. How can we steer our values towards a more ‘custodial’ use of things, places and experiences?
  2. Engaging Communities through Social Innovation
    The dark side of consumerism is poverty and exclusion, where social capital is eroded, and the individual’s capabilities frustrated. How can we engage those currently these ‘wasted’ groups?
  3. Engaging Design for Reuse
    Reuse can subvert the fetish for the new, and shift attention to what remains useful in the long term. In what ways and through what means can design for reuse be harnessed to transform consumerism?
  4. Redesigning Urban Systems for Low Carbon Living
    We need a technologically integrated approach to reduce the impact of our waste and emissions. How can technology be used to shift community expectations and wasteful social practices? These ideas will also be explored in a linked design exhibition, a workshop, and a PhD student poster session. For further information on these, please go to our website:

Confirmed Keynotes: Professor Stuart Walker, Lancaster University and Professor Susan Strasser, University of Delaware. Professor Walker is a leading advocate and eloquent author on sustainable design, with a particular interest in reuse, and he will also be exhibiting his work in the exhibition accompanying the conference. Professor Strasser is the author of the best-selling social history of waste, Waste and Want, and we are very excited by her willingness to attend and give a keynote. We are also negotiating the inclusion of third keynote, an eminent Professor who runs a Waste and Sustainability Centre in the UK.

Workshop: This will be led by Angela Rutter (Common Cause Australia – see, and is aimed primarily at students and professionals interested working with values to change behaviour. We are very pleased to be able to put on this workshop, on one of the major themes of the conference.

PhD poster Session: Poster contributions to the conference are being invited from PhD students in any discipline who believe that their current research is relevant to the themes of the conference. These posters will present work in progress and new research that is still under development. These posters will be put on display during the conference, and their creators invited to speak to them for 5-10 minutes each in a special session during the conference.

A Design Exhibition: ‘Unmaking Waste through Re-Use’ A Design Exhibition: ‘Unmaking Waste through Re-Use’ A Design Exhibition: ‘Unmaking Waste through Re-Use’

An invitation to participate in

A Design Exhibition: ‘Unmaking Waste through Re-Use’

To be held in the SASA Gallery, Art, Architecture and Design,
University of South Australia, Adelaide, during May, 2015

The Project
Design is now the main generator of global consumption and waste. Consumerism needs to create waste, to make room for the brand new which is most valued, despite the heavy costs we must pay for this privilege. Waste is what is no longer valued, whether still useful in itself, or as a resource for other uses.

This exhibition, like the accompanying conference, asks designers to consider ‘waste’ as that which has been prematurely de-valued, to make way for what is new, but not necessarily for what is better.

The Brief
Limited to a palette of (non-toxic) construction and demolition waste, this exhibition will confront some of the issues to be discussed in the conference. It will display everyday useful objects, but to be eligible for selection into the exhibition, these must be created from such typical C&D wasted materials as copper, steel and wire, PVC, wood, glass, concrete, brick and tile, and any other item or material commonly found in demolition yards. These everyday (and potentially useful) objects could be entirely remade or assembled from existing ones.

Designer’s Statement
Potential participants are encouraged to reflect on their practice in the conceptualization and making of the object to be submitted for the exhibition, which should result in a designer’s statement of 400-500 words.

We also encourage you to submit an abstract and paper to the conference organising committee discussing your work at greater length (for details see over). Remaking or repurposing is rarely considered in terms of the aesthetics of what is being created, or in terms of the effect of these renewed objects on everyday life.

Each item selected from the exhibition will be reproduced in a small catalogue, with an essay written by an external scholar on the concept of the exhibition. This will be published alongside the conference proceedings.

Submission Guidelines
Designers working in any 3-D discipline are invited to submit an expression of interest to participate in the exhibition. This 500 word statement should be accompanied by a one-page CV and up to six images of past relevant works. This expression of interest is due to the exhibition organisers by November 30th, 2014.

Once selected, designers will be invited to submit up to two images of the work which they want to be considered for inclusion in the exhibition. This work should be photographed and then sent to the exhibition organisers in a JPG file, A3 size (420 x 297 mm) at 300 dpi, and optimised for screen display.

Six works in total will be selected for the exhibition. Those with successful submissions will be asked to ship their works to our gallery by April 20th, 2015. Transportation and travel insurance costs will not be covered by the exhibition organisers. However, the exhibition organisers will contribute to each exhibitor $300 towards research and material costs, and $300 towards packing and freighting. Exhibitors will also be invited to attend the conference for free.

For all further information on the exhibition, and any particular queries, please contact
Katharine Thornton or Dr Robert Crocker

Areas of study and research

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