NEW SURVIVALISM: Alternative 'Bug Out Bags'
For the upcoming Istanbul Design Biennial
we will be creating a series of alternative survival kits for
short-term evacuation after a disaster. As a limited and contained set of objects, the contents acts as a
comfort blanket for our uncertain future, revealing our deepest hopes, fears and convictions at the most
critical moment. This project takes a speculative design approach to survivalism and asks “what alter-
native scenarios of survival are there that avoid the bunker mentality and respond to currently emerging
research into technological change, environmental conditions and belief systems?.' Thinking of what
would go into one’s own Bug Out Bag is therefore an easily understood act of speculative design that
prompts reflection on our own values and principles.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE INTERVIEW - Why sci-fi is obsessed with the near future
A nice chap from the Chicago Tribune came round to our studio the other week to chat sci-fi, futures,
speculative design and teaching at SAIC. As a result he wrote this article about how sci-fi has rooted
itself in technology and concerns of the short term, rather than the far-flung. It outlines our teaching
and various approaches to futures relating to our design practice.It continues with interviews from
novelist Richard Powers, MIT Media Lab researcher Sophia Brueckner and Eli Horowitz former man-
aging editor of the McSweeney’s literary journal. (Photo Credits: Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune)
ATELIER APOCALYPSE, First Fridays, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago: April 4th 2014
For the MCA First Friday event, we set up a mobile design studio inviting visitors to design responses
to impending disaster scenarios in the form of survival kits. Participants viewed research material for
inspiration and responded to three different disaster scenarios with written or sketched design concepts
and created their own worst case scenario. Beyond the usual food and medical supplies, what would be
in your ultimate survival kit? What is your must-have anti-apocalypse artifact? The workshop walls
continued to expand throughout the night into a cornucopia of extreme survival strategies.
ALIEN AMERICANA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago: Tue, Feb 25, 2014
As recent transplants from the UK, we presented an intriguing slice of Americana from our library of
photographic observations. Branded “non-resident aliens” on arrival to the US, we have traveled widely
in the three and a half years since and have assembled a sideways yet affectionate collection
graphs in the process. These images contain quotidian objects, buildings, and signs, and yet our out-
sider’s perspective encourages the viewer to dig deeper and reappraise their meaning. From design
classics to curious signage and roadside obscurities, our photographs seek to reveal both the beauty
and, at times, absurdity of contemporary America.