Sustainable Product Design visit to Cult Venezie

Three 2nd year SPD students, Hannah Smith, Jack Davies and Charlie Cattel-Killick, visited Venice in November 2014 for the International Forum of Culture and Creativity. Here is Hannah’s account of their exciting trip:

Jack, Charlie and I were lucky enough to gain places to Cult Venezie’s International forum of culture and creativity in Venice. This was a three day event for European designers, architects, conservators and restorers to discuss future and current trends. The event encompassed five main sections: ‘Future in the making’, ‘3D printing’, ‘Open Design Italia’, ‘Open Restorations’ and ‘New Digital Technologies for Culture’. We attended lectures and workshops from European designers, saw the sights of Venice and enjoyed spritzers in the evenings.

Arriving in Venice at sunset, we immediately embarked on a Vaperetto to our hotel near St Mark’s Square. The views were stunning, and by boat is the best way to see the city. That evening, we took a wander around the area, accidentally joining a religious pilgrimage, finding a sculpture exhibition and window shopping the high-fashion shops.

The next morning St Mark’s Square had flooded slightly. This displayed the simple but effective design of raised walkways that are assembled to allow pedestrians to cross areas of water. They are disassembled and stacked when not needed, depending on the tides.

The CultVenezie event showcased a selection of Italian creative companies. DWS displayed an impressive array of additive manufacturing ( from 3D printing precious metals for jewellery to dental and biomedical applications. The space also held crafts, industrial and food design from Italian companies. That day, we attended a lecture by Guido Guerzoni exploring the future of museum spaces and their sustainability.

Our other lectures questioned the future of traditional Italian craftsmanship, whether the new trend of 3D printing will destroy the cultural storytelling of hand-finished products. We also visited the Leonardo Da Vinci museum, where wooden mock-ups displayed his engineering genius. Looking to the future, we were introduced to a company who plan to 3D print a bridge. The free standing robots will start, one either side, and build the structure to meet in the middle.

The first workshop was with three designers from the Netherlands. Henriette Waal purifies water by brewing it into beer ( She has created mobile breweries that are designed to sit alongside the water source she uses. In the workshop she turned Venice lagoon water into coffee. Simultaneously, we were introduced to two members of Overtreders, a spatial design firm. They had created a community wool processing plant run on pedal power that processes surplus fleece. During the workshop we dyed felted wool with onion skins, a non-toxic natural dyeing method.

In the evenings we ate with the university students before heading out to the (mainly outdoor) bars for spritzers. Each night we would depart for our hotel on a boat, James Bond style. We spent our last evening in a restaurant with one of the Dutch students, where the proprietor gave us prosecco and limoncello (on the house, of course).


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