The London art and design college, Central Saint Martins (CSM), and LVMH have been collaborating for many years. Since 2017, the partnership has developed into Maison/0, a “creative platform for regenerative luxury.”
The next phase of the partnership is a radical new course at CSM. The MA in Regenerative Design, which was announced last month, is a new two-year course hinged around the bold (and true) statement: “sustainable design is not enough.”
Design practices and processes working under the umbrella term ‘sustainable’ have “largely focused on more efficient use of natural resources or the reduction of our environmental impact,” states the CSM course description. Regenerative design is a much-needed next step: it aims to “restore and replenish what human activities have radically deteriorated.”
This marks a big shift in design thinking, especially in the luxury industry. The course description goes on to say, “Instead of perpetuating an anthropocentric mindset which leads to the depletion of our underlying life-support systems, regenerative design goes beyond sustainable and circular design principles to actively promote a multi-species approach in which humans and non-humans co-habit holistically.” This is a brave and bold reimagining of design.
The luxury design industry is no stranger to exploiting natural resources to satisfy latest trends, fashions and desires. Maison/0 and the masters course is part of LVMH’s aim to rethink luxury for a better future that protects the planet and biodiversity.
LVMH acknowledges the impact it has on the planet. Antoine Arnault, Head of Image and Environment, says: “All of our products come from the environment. This is why it is crucial for a Group such as [LVMH] to lay the foundations for a new form of regenerative luxury, a new alliance between creativity and nature.”
This alliance between creativity and nature is at the heart of the new course. Director of Maison/0, Carole Collet says, “creativity can lead to a more holistic connection to nature.” One that repairs and regenerates instead of taking. This is design that understands we live in a “more-than-human world.” And that to continue living in and enjoying it, we have to radically change the way we work with nature.
The course is part of a five-year plan of action from the CSM-LVMH partnership which aims to support students through scholarships, collaborations and awards.
The course will challenge students to “re-evaluate [their] design practice with radical new lenses that embody living systems thinking,” informed by climate research, nature conservation, rewilding, decolonization and indigenous methodologies, and many more fields of study. The course also draws on new economic and business models such as doughnut economics and circular economy.
Students will present a final regenerative design project that helps to restore their “local biosphere and community.” What this will look like, only time will tell.
The inaugural cohort will begin their regenerative projects in September 2022.
In other nature-based projects, the Biomimicry Institution has been awarded €2.5 million EUR to pilot the decomposition of textile waste.