New exhibition highlights greenwashing in Czech design

Photo: Prague Town Hall

Sustainability and greenwashing are two of the buzzwords of our time. But Veronika Pařízková, the curator of a new exhibition now open in the Mariánské náměstí in Prague with the title “ECO? Czech sustainable design”, says that in the Czech Republic these issues are often not discussed.

“We wanted to present Czech ecological design for the first time, but then we realized that in Czechia this subject was not so developed. Of course, abroad there are ecological exhibitions, but here it is not yet a much discussed topic.

Photo: Prague Town Hall

As a result, the exhibition is not just a showcase of Czech sustainable design, but a critical and almost conflicting view of what is truly eco-friendly and what is just marketing. To this end, the creators of the exhibition called on a team from the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague to scientifically analyze everything presented in the exhibition in order to discover how each of these supposed products durable is actually eco-friendly.

Each of the exhibited products was examined not only in terms of the materials used, but also in terms of, for example, water consumption and CO2 emissions during the production or use of toxic substances. Professor Vladimír Kočí, who leads the team, explains what the thinking behind it was and how it fits into the current Czech EU Presidency.

Vladimir Koci |  Photo: Tereza Kunderová, Czech Radio

“Currently one of the most discussed topics in the EU is sustainability and the application of the Green Deal. The Green Deal states that greenwashing should not be supported as an approach, so we wanted to support the communication on sustainability, even in creative spheres like design, with a scientifically based evaluation system.We wanted to show that even the material background of these products can be part of our sustainability thinking, because not only fashion and design, but also material and energy consumption during the production phase are important.

The exhibition features a diverse range of Czech-designed products, including vases, chairs and even menstrual cups. It is composed of three parts: the first presenting commercially available products produced by Czech companies such as TON, MMCITÉ or Egoé; the second exhibiting products such as glass or T-shirts from small Czech designers and studios; and the last part being concepts that are not (yet) commercially available or products produced only in small quantities, for example, ceramics made from recyclable materials or compostable coffee capsules.

The installation is aimed not only at the general public, but also at designers who are looking for ways to change consumer habits, or at experts who approach the theme of sustainability through the prism of science. Veronika Pařízková says the exhibition should be truly unique.

“To be honest, I have never seen any other exhibition where the products are not presented only in a positive light – in our exhibition, you can see that some products do not have the best reviews. Few factories and designers understand how to improve their products to make them more eco-friendly and sustainable. When you choose the wrong materials and components, it’s not eco-friendly in the end. So we tried to show that you have to think from the start to make products eco-friendly and not just use the sustainability sticker for marketing.

After its passage in Prague, the unusual installation will travel to other European cities where it will be presented, among others, in a Schöneberg metro station in Berlin, a gallery on the banks of the Vistula in Warsaw and the famous community center Blivande. in Stockholm. Other launches are also planned for Bucharest and Milan.

Berta D. Wells