Material Futures

Lecture 4

How to design for a changing world? This question was the one we studied for our 4th lecture about future materials. Therefore the lecture was introducing the notions of virtual realities, augmented reality as well as future speculative (for more on that subject refer to task 6). During the lecture, in order to understand the process of making, promoting and sell an object from the production, from the raw material to the actual sell of the object, we had a small task introducing a scenario and questions.

They are the following:

“IKEA have built huge factory ship that manufacture furnitures products from raw materials on their way from the Amazon rainforest to Europe. This means having production and delivery times, and enables (…) new designs that can be in-store much quicker than their competitors.”

  • Imagine what they would need to take with them?
  • What would they need to collect at points on the way to make this feasible?
  • What problems do you predict?

In my study, I am going to pretend that the manufactured products are not furnitures but medicines. In fact, according to WWF “Not only do ingredients in Amazonian plants make us smell nice, they can save lives too. 70% of the plants that have proven anti-cancer properties are only found in tropical rainforest”. (WWF, 2017)

Therefore, to answer the previous questions, if my ship (not IKEA anymore) is transporting medicines they would need appropriate packaging to transport them without damaging their qualities. They would need as well suppliers for workers, workers, chemist (for the transformation of the plants into pills), machinery and a source of energy and power.

During the trip, they would have to collect at points on the way boarders contract, authorisations for the medicines to be moved from one country to another and supplies for workers.

The two main problems I predict are the pollution made by the huge factory ship and the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest. As well their can be problems for the storage, the working conditions, the distribution of the products, the insurance, the weather conditions…

WWF (2017) Ten products and ingredients that comes from the Amazon. Available at:

This study helped me therefore to understand the commercial and more concrete aspect of the making of a product. The fact that the product chosen are medicines led me to researches about different plants and different techniques of healing. As Mark Plotin explained in a TED Talk “In an energetic and sobering talk, the ethnobotanist brings us into the world of the forest’s indigenous tribes and the incredible medicinal plants that their shamans use to heal” (TED Global, 2014)

‘What the people of the Amazon know that you don’t’ (2014) TED Global, TED Talks. Available at:





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