Designing out waste: Using the arts to create a circular economy

“Everyone creates waste” says Aymeric Renoud, founder of Draff Studio, a workshop that reuses waste alcohol production as a material in furniture design. “So why,” he asks, “when you [design something] would you destroy the planet?”

We live in a linear economy, a model of production and consumption where raw materials are transformed into products that we use until they reach the end of their lifecycle, at which point they are discarded as waste, often with little consideration of the negative environmental consequences.

In the creative and cultural industries, artists, designers, makers and audiences are coming to understand the transformational impact of the arts to create a more sustainable way of living in Scotland and beyond.

Enter REsolve: A Creative Approach to the Circular Economy, the first ever multidisciplinary exhibition dedicated to the circular economy. It premiered at Kirkcaldy Galleries in February 2022 and is now available to experience online on Fife Contemporary’s website.

Curated by artist Mella Shaw, REsolve presents a combination of real solutions and inspiring creative works by artists, designers and makers in response to the issues caused by the way we live now.

REsolve explores the four parts of the circular economy in practice and challenges us to consider how important the arts is in the fight for climate action and how everyone can make a difference.

We spoke to curator Mella Shaw and some of the artists of REsolve, including Aymeric, about their work and what they thought the role of the arts should be in the fight for climate action.

Watch the films and explore more of what’s on offer from the many artists and creative practitioners engaging in the fight for climate action all over Scotland.

What is the circular economy?

Mella Shaw is an experienced visual artist with a varied practice that runs from the traditional – clay, ceramic, slip-casting, hand-building – to the digital. Most recently her work has centered around engaging the public in environmental work that seeks to address the global climate crisis.

Find out more about Mella’s work.

Waste to Function

With a passion for eco-conception, Aymeric Renoud creates bespoke pieces of furniture at his workshop in Dundee, and is frequently involved with local projects, distilleries and breweries.

Find out more about Aymeric’s work.

Powered by Renewable Energy

Hannah Imlach is a visual artist working in sculpture and photography, creating site-specific works that explore sites of environmental conservation and renewable energy transition.

Find out more about Hannah’s work.

Share and Repair

Deirdre Nelson is an Irish artist and designer based in Glasgow, who creates textiles which explore humour, place and social history, partnering traditional techniques with contemporary processes such as digital print.

Find out more about Dierdre’s work.

Design for Disassembly

Stefanie Cheong works with gold, silver and stone, in a practice underpinned by ethical making that considers the processes and practices that come together to create her work.

Find out more about Stefanie Cheong

Daniel Svahn is a Stockholm-based multidisciplinary designer and artist working in product, furniture, and interior design. His recent work has focused on sustainable development, circular furniture and interior systems and solutions.

Find out more about Daniel Svahn.

About Fife Contemporary

Fife Contemporary is an independent visual art & craft organisation funded by Fife Council and Creative Scotland through our Regular Funding programme. Though based in St Andrews, they create and deliver exhibitions, artist residencies, and events in venues across Fife and online all year round.

What’s on – Climate events across Scotland

Climate Beacons for COP26 is a Scotland-wide collaborative project between climate change or environmental organisations and arts, heritage or cultural organisations to stimulate long-term public engagement in the lead-up to and following COP26.

The Highland Climate Festival from 25 June – 3 July celebrates the local communities, businesses, and public sector businesses taking climate actions through a series of local in person and regional online events.

HebCelt, the international music festival set in the Hebrides, are working with Harris-based clean power start-up PlusZero to provide the electricity to run their Islands Stage through zero emissions Hydrogen, produced locally using renewable energy.

John Muir Fellowship artist Natalie Taylor presents her work Terra Infirma at the Dunbar Town House until 24 June, created with the local community and exploring the role soil plays in our quest to rebalance the planet.

Learn about how climate change and disability rights intersect – and how cultural organisations and artists can apply this learning in real terms with Creative Carbon Scotland’s event Disabled perspectives on climate and culture.

The next SCAN (Scottish Communities Climate Action Network) Storyteller Collective podcasting skillshare event is focused on audio storytelling around community climate justice and features Dr Matthew Hannon, one of the hosts of the podcast Local Zero.

The Village Storytelling Festival 2022 will explore Re:Connection and Transformation – Storytelling In a Precarious World, through performance, screenings, exhibitions, talks and workshops. Explore the programme.

Last month, we announced that funding Creative Scotland’s Open Fund would enable Mona Kastell, Scotland-based designer and leader in the fast-emerging field of ecological design in the performing arts, to lead workshops and exhibit work alongside international peers and promote Scotland’s part in developing sustainable design thinking within the industry. Follow her work at

In April, we published our ambitious and bold new Climate Emergency and Sustainability Plan developed in collaboration with a project team led by Creative Carbon Scotland and with people from across Scotland’s culture and creative sector.

In a collection of events titled Our Planet and Us at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, meet writers who champion the natural world, from direct calls to action against climate change; to rejoicing in the beauty of the earth’s landscapes and wild inhabitants, these events shine a light on the majesty of our fragile planet.

Burnt Out – One Australian's experience of our changing climate – and Occupying Eden – a multi-species performance in which an imagined ecological paradise is co-created – will be presented at Dance Base Festival 2022.

This article was published on 04 Jul 2022