The ongoing global warming catastrophe is terrifying, but these days we hear so much about climate change that it can be hard to think about it.
That’s why Raw Color, a Dutch studio founded by Christoph Brach and Daniera ter Haar, wants to help make climate data more tangible. Its latest installation, Temperature Textiles, was launched during Dutch Design Week, which coincides with the United Nations Climate Conference COP26. Temperature Textiles’ series of blankets, scarves and socks use colors and patterns to illustrate rising sea levels and how hot global temperatures will become if emissions are not reduced.
In their work, Brach and Haar specialize in the use of color to convey information across a variety of disciplines, including graphic design and product design. They explored how color can be used in healthcare settings to influence patients and created colorful masks to reflect their identity as designers. With this project, they are using color to translate complex climate data into easy-to-enter models.
They focused on three types of information: temperature changes, sea level rise and emissions, using the most recent data collected by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Warm undertones, like red and orange, reflect increases in temperature, while cool undertones, like gray and pink, reflect rising seas.
In the sea level coverage, small gray squares on a purple background reflect the predicted sea level rise between 2000 and 2100. A pair of socks represents the sea level rise between 2020 and 2040 in a series of purple and green lines on blue background. The emission blanket and the scarf and the temperature blanket feature splashes of color which are both eye-catching and real graphics that represent how the earth’s temperatures could rise.
Cleverly, all of these textiles are also designed to provide warmth, which will be necessary as climate change results in more extreme weather conditions including colder temperatures in many parts of the world, including the Netherlands. “These textiles strive to [raise] raising awareness and providing extra warmth, ”explains the studio in the Dutch Design Week catalog. “Therefore, users should also be [stimulated] to lower their heating and therefore reduce their personal CO2 emissions.
To create the different products, Raw Color collaborated with two textile workshops, TextielLab and Knitwear Lab. They used a technique that creates heavy fabrics while reducing waste by knitting custom fabrics.
According to the most recent UN climate report, even as every country in the world dramatically cuts emissions, temperatures on earth are on a path of increasing 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next two decades, compared to at pre-industrial levels. The question is whether we can prevent temperatures from rising even more, which could lead to even more catastrophic results.
Brach and Haar believe that over time we will be forced to process increasingly complex information on the planet and there is a risk of information overload.