Sustainica 2016 in retrospect

Sustainica is a fact and we are very happy that we brought this 1st edition to ‪#Düsseldorf! Big thank you to the NRW-Forum and all people who supported us!

We’d like to share the first articles, pictures, videos etc. in a series of Blog-postings. Stay tuned for a better, more efficient and… a more sustainable ‪#‎Sustainica‬!

Planet B & Sustainica invites you

After more than a year of hard work, multitasking and networking we have come to a point  where we make our thoughts who to invite to the event. People with whom we have a special relationship with, good business contacts, suppliers and also friends and family. But of course – everyone is welcome to join the movement from 2 – 5 June.

It is also interesting how we build momentum in the last couple of weeks. Being out of the blue approached by interesting new people is a great experience and it gives myself, the team and the project as a whole the necessary confidence. So if you read this and you’re interested in Sustainica – let’s catch up soon!! : )

Food Democracy

Food Democracy: Towards Sustainable Food Features

By Dr Oliver Vodeb

It is impossible to think about sustainability without putting food at the center of our discussions. Food is our most intimate relation to nature, and while essential for our living, we have let corporations and profit interests largely determine our food culture.

In the era of privatisation of everything, basic human needs get colonised through corporate strategies. The food system- production, distribution, representation and consumption of food- becomes a machine, which excludes people from participation.
Big corporations are putting exclusive copyrights on seeds- the very source of life. Seeds as public knowledge bank were cultivated through centuries in a close relation between human and nature.

Predictions show that because of unsustainable commercial farming the amount of food produced at the end of the century will be 50% of what we produce now. Currently more than 30 % of food is thrown away right away after harvest just because it does not look in a particular way and 200 000 people could be fed for a year just with the food that is thrown away by European airlines in one year. As world population numbers are rising, food will become the biggest issue of survival and geopolitical dominance very, very soon.

The consumption is to a big degree preconditioned as well. Our desires to achieve pleasure with food are in many ways the product of the prevailing food related libidinal economy- the way society organises desire. Food is designed with great effort and so are its representations.

With the strategic use of sugar, salt and fat, food is having the chemical effect of drugs. But addictive relations to food are designed by advertising too- in many cases food advertising even promotes behavioural patterns, which resemble to illicit drug cultures and food itself is more and more being designed to be a drug-delivering device.

My research has been focusing on what can communication/design and art do in order to contribute to FOOD DEMOCRACY. In 2013 we have initiated the global Memefest, the festival of Socially responsive communication, design and art on the theme of Food Democracy. Memefest is interested in the development of public communication for social change. Results of the many responses from 25 countries can be seen here.

A series of what we call extradisciplinary workshops has been addressing the issue in local Brisbane, Australia, where we have worked with the Aboriginal activist group, the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and have developed public interventions in support of Food Democracy:

We are currently working on a book titled FOOD DEMOCRACY, Critical Lessons in Food, Communication/Design, Art and Theoretical Practice, which will be published in 2017 by Intellect Books UK.

In our technological world and the society of the mediated spectacle, communication, design and art must play a crucial role in our food futures. In order to do so, new innovative and socially responsive approaches to public communication as well as education will be crucial.

Dr Oliver Vodeb: Research, writing / theory. PhD Sociology of (visual) communication, University of Ljubljana. Based in Melbourne, Australia.

Aesthetics of the Real World Edition #1


Dear people of tomorrow,

You can always tell yourself “next time”, “later” or “it is not that big of a problem” but in the end it measures up and your children or younger friends might be the ones suffering from your decisions today. There is no plan to make you into a sustainable lifestyle hero and of that I am not a saint either. What we can all do is live consciously and appreciates the environment we live in and think of how we can take part in saving it. Just spare some minutes a day, which will be a good start! I am a fashion designer and I will give you examples from my usual environment and describe sustainability from my point of view. Of course this is only one way of looking at it and I hereby invite you to read through #1 of my series of articles for Sustainica in 2016 -an international fair, conference & art exhibition for sustainable lifestyle and innovation.


Aesthetics of the Real World Edition #1 – “THE CORE” by Stella Achenbach

– Definition of aesthetics in the world of sustainability –

For our purpose we need to distinguish between a common perception of aesthetics and the one used in sustainability. Since sustainability in our context is defined by a social challenge to adjust individual lifestyle that conserves natural resources, I would like to explain our process of aesthetic decision making with the help of 4 of our 5 senses.
Our state of knowledge today knows about five senses which our body has to offer: Visual perception, auditive perception, olfactory perception, perception of taste and of course tactile perception.

A thought experiment: Imagine a neutral store, no price tags, no labelling and of course no sales advisor. Everything you see you can get in your size and you would not need to pay for anything. How would you choose from this collection of clothing? Well, the most common way would be by using your senses: The general look of the outfit, meaning is it well made and did the item undergo a design process before being manufactured. Some clothing gives us the impression of a rich use of fabric. Even though it might seem unusual to you, but the smell of a dress can change your whole perception of it, not to mention the touch. While using your senses as a human being I am pretty sure you would grab the Dior Dress or the Jill Sander coat and not the skirt from Primark or a dress from H&M. Of course I lack empirical reference for this thesis, but as I mentioned this is a thought experiment, maybe you give it a try. One of your counter-arguments might be that we are living in the real world – which is exactly our topic – and granted, not everybody can afford a premium market item.

Well, this is correct but: First of all many of us are consuming way more pieces of clothes than we would actually need. In 2014 the expenses for clothing in Germany almost hit the 80 billion Euro mark, while we had a 1 population of 80 million. If you calculate a per capita you would get about 1.000 Euro for one year. Imagine now, you could spend these 1.000 Euro within one year whenever you like on whatever you like. What would it be? Buying something at a bargain price could be one answer and you could get way more than one item for that kind of money. Or you could decide for one or even a few more special items, which brings me to my second point. I only mentioned well known brands for a better transfer but of course this is not your only option.

Did you ever check for young designers or fashion start ups in your city and even second hand stores? Most probably you will find them, because creative people working passionately with beautiful fabrics are almost everywhere to find: On the internet and of course owning their own little stores, maybe around your corner. Wouldn’t it be fantastic, not only purchasing something with a good consciousness but also getting an individual piece to wear?

News update from Sustainica #3

Before the long weekend starts the Sustainica team likes to update you with a collection of news & stories on the project. Besides the great collection of brands & designers participating in the fair, Sustainica is also building an impressive conference program that will run for four days – a forum for candid discussion in an effort to widen the sustainability dialogue. Have a look @

Another highlights is – of course –  the art exhibition Planet B. We can’t tell you more about the concept other than referring to the information on the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf. The Forum collaborates with 17 exciting artists, in a format that alternates during the 3 month exhibition period. Have a good read and stay tuned!

Credits: Andrew Paterson ‘gourmet-geophaia’, Valentina Karga ’15 days on Mars’, Kathryn Fleming ‘Endless Form / Endless Species: Superbivore’, NRW-Forum Düsseldorf.

A collection of news & stories #2

We are getting closer and closer by the minute to the launch of the Sustainica fair. Curious? Read the newsletter @


Image © Kathryn Fleming

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