Critical Tide at the Design Museum Helsinki brought together designers, artists and scientists exploring design, the oceans, and the possibility of making a difference through research, activism and community- based approaches to practice.

Curators, Julia Lohmann, Pirjo Haikola, Gillian Russell and Gero Grundmann. Assistant curator Luisa Hilmer.

We are in a time of deep ecological crisis. Our continued survival demands that we urgently address the many challenges that face our planet. These challenges are perhaps most evident in the state of the ocean. Rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, coral bleaching and overexploitation of marine resources signal a critical need for change. Designers have a lot to answer for here. Design has helped promote high-carbon lifestyles and hyper-consumption and remains central to the structures of unsustainability that keep the wheels of our contemporary world turning. However, a growing number of designers are taking a stand, proposing ways of designing that show a responsibility toward the ocean and its many life forms.

Critical Tide brings together a wide selection of experimental works that challenge our perception of design. From speculative projects, to restorative tools and future scenarios, the works presented reveal the complexity of the problems and opportunities in our ocean. They offer a glimpse into a future that is ecologically and socially engaged. Reminding us that we too can make a difference.

Photographs Paavo Lehtonen

MARS, Modular Artificial Reef System (2013 – ) Alex Goad (AU)
3D-printed ceramic modules, concrete, composite bar. Underwater photographs.

Hair Mats (2016- ) Lisa Gautier & Phil McCory (USA) Matters of Trust.
Hair, fur and feathers – oil absorbing mats.
Hair mats can be used after oil spills and in storm sewers to absorb hydrocarbon waste.

The Department of Seaweed (2013– ) Julia Lohmann (DE)

Sea Chair (2013) Alexander Groves (UK) & Azusa Murakami (JP) Studio Swine (Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers) Recycled ocean plastic waste.

Ocean Confessional (2016– ), Pete Fung (CA) & Samein Shamsher (CA), Performance, mixed media installation.

Radical Ocean Futures (2016), Andrew Merrie (NZ) & Simon Stålenhag (SE)
Illustrations and audio pieces.
Radical Ocean Futures presents four science-based scenarios of the future of the ocean. 

Baltic Characters (2019) Concept: Anni Avela, Text: Pirjo Haikola, Gero Grundmann, Julia Lohmann. Scientific support: Miina Mäki, John Nurminen Foundation, Illustrations: Gero Grundmann




Critical Tide