I just launched CSYFI, my first online store, where you can buy all my project-related goods. If you’d like to support The Apocalypse Project, Rorsketch, and others, I would be grateful if you consider buying something. I’m making hand drawn surprises for the first five customers. Check it out here.
The past year or so has seen me venturing into the mysterious field of “speculative design.” In The Apocalypse Project, I’m trying to see possible futures under climate change, which are generally not pretty visions of tomorrow.
There are lessons I’ve learned as well as experiences whose lessons I’m still trying to find. Here they are:
1. Stories rule.
When it comes to something as dry and political as climate change, the best way to get people to care is to let them find a personal story. Climate change is humanity’s story, not just a few individuals’. It is also complex and multilayered; a photo of a melting glacier might trigger the emotions of people living near them, but it might not be as effective to a person who has never experienced a winter. Here in Southeast Asia, I notice that people paid more attention to stories about rising sea levels, extreme heat or supertyphoons, because those are the things that they have personally experienced and have something to say about.
However, this isn’t to say that people in the tropics will never care about polar bears. I think that another property about the climate story is that so many things are connected—a melting glacier may further alarm people who are experiencing drought, for example—and there are opportunities to connect these dots that people never realized existed.
2. The power belongs to the people.
When people want to buy these hypothetical products, I’m taken aback and get a conscience attack of sorts. My goal was to show people how bad it could get, but instead people’s consumerist tendencies prevailed.
But then, why wouldn’t they want to buy these? I had made them so real that they only thing that was missing was a PayPal button.
I realized the power of people as consumers; the exchange of money for product allows for the existence of these objects. These transactions keep these products—and the ideas behind them—alive. If people refuse to buy the product, then it marks the end of it.
What does this mean for futures? For me, it gives me a barometer to see what types of people are out there. I’ve realized that the point of speculative design is to ignite debate. By making these projects, people have the opportunity to talk about these issues. There are so many opinions out there that
Should I sell these? This is something I keep thinking about. Perhaps letting people buy them allows for even greater awareness, as long as they know the intentions behind it. Let me get back to you.
3. The true test is converting a denier.
The bulk of the people who have emailed me or tweeted about how the like the project are usually futurists, artists, or other people who are already aware of climate change to begin with. While I’m extremely grateful for this, especially for the future collaborations that it could ensue, to put it bluntly these people are already smarties. The next cohort of people that I’ve impacted are the “laymen”—those whose work has nothing to do with design or sustainability, but are folks who can see their personal stories in these projects. I think this is wonderful because I’ve always wanted my designs to exist beyond, well, design. Children have always been among my primary—and usually the sharpest—audience and I usually prototype my ideas on them to see if I’m being too unnecessarily confusing.
Perhaps the pinnacle of “success” in doing projects like this is when I am able to convert a climate change denier. This is the final cohort of people who are going to be the hardest to convert but are those who will give me the greatest pleasure to impact. When the initial wave of press for my projects hit, I get trolling tweets from climate change deniers literally seconds later. It’s usually how I know that my projects are being written about. I would often joke to my friends about how they’re usually just a bunch of old white guys, usually in the US, who’ve never experienced the scale of a tropical typhoon and probably don’t get out much anyhow so who cares. I never engage in them, but the more I think about it, these are the ones that, if converted, means that I was extremely effective in conveying ideas.
But I just think they’re so gross. What to do, hmm. Any ideas?
4. Everyone can contribute to this.
In Future Feast, I got a bit floored towards the end because I truly felt that it was transformative for a lot of people. Having multiple talents together—musicians, artists, designers, scientists, etc.—can feel like high school because they have very different personalities, and I as the one behind this was a bit anxious that the dots wouldn’t connect because everyone had their own vested interest in the project. However, I realized that it was in this multilayered experience that gave people a meaningful experience. In the end, it was great to feel that it wasn’t just my project anymore—it was everyone’s, which was the point.
I’m still evaluating the impact of the work I’ve done in the past few months. Stay tuned here for updates on what’s next, and thanks so much for keeping up with the projects!
Happy and proud of everyone at Future Feast / GoExperience Redesign! This proved to me that it was possible to get a lot of people of different talents together in the name of raising climate change awareness. It was one big amazing group hug for all humanity.
Check out Radio Republic’s photos here.
Also watch their video below:
This officially marks the end of my residency and exhibition at The Mind Museum. You all know I hate this part. I’ll be taking some time to decompress and think about next steps. In the meantime, The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store has been getting some traction online, so I’m fielding interviews on that end. Updates soon, and thanks for keeping up with the projects!
Hello, apocalypters! I’m excited to announce that as a culminating event for The Apocalypse Project: Imagined Futures, The Mind Museum is collaborating with Radio Republic to bring you Future Feast, a celebration of human creativity and our hopes for a sustainable future. The event will be on July 26, Saturday, 12PM to 7PM at the Special Exhibition Hall of The Mind Museum.
With the theme of Redesign, I am working with chefs who are creating new dishes for a Convenience Store of the Future. Radio Republic is bringing in their featured artists for July: Slow Hello, Jireh Calo, and Brisom. There will also be a performance by special guest artist Joey Ayala. This is an event for all ages, so bring in your families and get the kids to play at the Tinker Studio, watch spoken word performances and science shows, dress up in clothes from the Climate Change Closet and have your photos taken at the photo booth, smell the perfumes of The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store, participate in Mission Apocalypse Scavenger Hunt and win an Apocalypse Project Commander Badge, and think of how you can help build a sustainable future by making an Earth Pledge.
Ticket prices are as follows:
EXPLORE TICKET (All Day Pass to the galleries of TMM, Access to Live Performances, Mission Apocalypse Scavenger Hunt & Climate Change Closet): 500.00 PHP
TASTE TICKET (Access to Live Performances, Future Tastes (6 dishes), and Climate Change Closet): 300.00 PHP
DISCOVER TICKET (Access to Live Performances and Climate Change Closet): 200.00 PHP
TINKER TICKET (Access to Tinker Studio: Make your own Animal Art): 150.00 PHP
You can buy tickets online here. You can also buy your tickets at the museum on the day of the event. No reservations are required.
See you there!
Highlighting the vanishing breeds enchantment
I am happy to announce The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store (T.E.M.P.S., French for time), a hypothetical perfume line set in the future when many things in nature would have disappeared as we know it because of climate change. This is the first collection of eight scents.
The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store is a collaboration of The Apocalypse Project and Givaudan. It is part of The Apocalypse Project: Imagined Futures at The Mind Museum and is part of the museum’s permanent collection. Go and visit The Mind Museum to smell these perfumes.
Climate change leads to rising sea levels, threatening to swallow up the world’s coastlines.
Coffee bean production is dependent on cool mountainsides that are running out because of rising temperatures. Pests are also flourishing because of the warmer weather.
Climate change can make flowers open too early before bees emerge from hibernation, causing their numbers to decline.
Climate change is altering growth conditions for grapes, leading to changes in quality of production in wine-producing regions.
Eucalyptus species are increasingly affected by drought and flash floods. Their long regeneration times and short dispersal of their seeds mean they may not be able to keep up with the pace of climate change.
The scorching heat drastically reduces the quality of peanut production, leaving more peanuts to be processed into oil rather than the edible quality.
Higher temperatures are causing the earth’s glaciers and permafrost to melt.
Different species of trees, such as cedar, pine, and fir, are being decimated as climate change increases the risk of forest fires.
To bring the project to life, I reached out to Givaudan, a Swiss flavors and fragrance company, who sources materials that preserve the environment, stimulate the development and well-being of communities, and safeguards an efficient use of previous resources. I am grateful to Marilyn Yao, Givaudan Singapore, and Givaudan Philippines for their help in the perfumes, Maribel Garcia who curated The Apocalypse Project: Imagined Futures exhibition, Stephanie Faith Bautista who designed the logo, and Nino Carandang and Peter Lorenz Frac of Shuttermaster Pro for help with photography and video.
The project was a collaboration between the perfumer who mixed the scents in the lab and myself who created the world the perfumes inhabited. Claude Charmoille, VP of Perfumery in Asia, took on this challenge. Charmoille was born in the south of France where scents abound and vary according to seasons. “After completing my botanic and chemistry education, the subtle alchemy between arts – craft – andscience attracted me to the perfumer’s profession,” says Charmoille.
Personally, my favorite scent is Coasts, because it smells of a place as opposed to the others that smell of a specific objects. Because I smell the beach, I remember my childhood memories in the beaches of the Philippines—white sand, coconut trees, the ocean breeze, salty seashells and all. For Charmoille, it’s Eucalyptus. “This one is my favourite, it brings back memories from my childhood when we visited small islands in the Mediterranean sea close to Cannes. In the hot summer days, the eucalypus and pine trees would perfume the air to a degree one can not forget, this warm aromatic and fruity whiff will always remain deeply linked to seaside vacation and family memories.”
As a designer, my intention was to show people a different side of the climate change scenario. Smell is very sensuous and visceral; its effects are instantaneous. Instead of showing statistics of what will disappear because of climate change, I decided to let people smell them. Highlighting the temporary breeds enchantment. As smell is linked to memory, I’m hoping that people will think about how their lives will be without these seemingly ordinary objects that we take for granted that might not be there anymore.
The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store
Concept and Design
Catherine Sarah Young
Claude Charmoille of Givaudan
The Mind Museum
Maria Isabel Garcia
With thanks to
Givaudan Singapore Pte Ltd c/o Claude Charmoille for providing the fragrances
Marilyn Yao and Neri Mamburam
Shot at Shuttermaster Pro
17 May 2014, Manila—Thanks, Cha-cha and Tara of the new Just4Kids show on GMA-7, another network here in the Philippines, for featuring The Apocalypse Project Imagined Futures at The Mind Museum.
Cutest interviewers ever. (I also realized I’m way more comfortable talking with people younger than 12.)
As part of The Apocalypse Project: Imagined Futures exhibition, questions about climate change are hidden in the exhibits of The Mind Museum. My goal was to recontextualize all of the museum—that is, after you see the Apocalypse exhibits, then visitors can see the current exhibits as representations of things that are under threat.
As I cannot be in the museum each day to handle hundreds of visitors, I am extremely happy and grateful for these people who now form the Manila crop of the Apocalypse Squad. The suits are looking really cool, you guys.
In addition to facilitating the scavenger hunt, they also get to lead participants to have an oath-taking ceremony, where they pledge to help the planet. They are then awarded an Apocalypse Project Commander Badge and are knighted. With a sword, of course.
Many thanks to the hundreds of people who have done the Mission Apocalypse scavenger hunt. The work is just beginning for me, and I needed a few days to rest. Tune in for more developments!
Top photo by Darwin Cayetano of Tracking Treasure, used with permission.