As part of the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) 100th anniversary celebrations, the co-creative
exhibition format Pure Gold - Upcycled! Upgraded! celebrates its premiere. The exhibition, devised by Volker Albus, introduces a new global generation of designers who work in an ecological and ethically sustainable manner, and it gathers multiperspectival approaches for a grave problem facing us today: waste and its recycling.

Although there has long been an awareness of marine litter pollution and the grave consequences for the ecosystem, and although we are constantly confronted with pictures of gigantic rubbish dumps in deprived regions of the planet, our day-today approach to what we generally refer to as waste is only changing slowly. The exhibition theme of upcycling – the re-use of raw materials that have already been processed to create new objects of greater value – aims to raise awareness of alternative production techniques, while simultaneously pointing up contemporary European and non-European design developments. The designs use what appear to be inferior starting materials, combine different kinds of objects in an unconventional way, or creatively process unwanted by-products.

The exhibition at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg is part of of a ten-year tour of 20 venues worldwide. After Hamburg the exhibition will travel to Southeast Asia, making stops in Bangkok, Yangon, Hanoi and Manila. The ifa has structured the exhibition as an innovative co-creative format. Curators from a total of seven regions present 53 designers with 76 pieces relating to this theme.

Opening of the exhibition on 14 September 2017 at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, photos: Anja Beutler


Europe: Volker Albus, Frankfurt/M.
Latin America: Adélia Borges, São Paulo
Sub-Saharean Africa: Tapiwa Matsinde, London
South Asia: Divia Patel, London
North Africa and the Near East: Bahia Shehab, Cairo
Southeast Asia: Eggarat Wongcharit, Bangkok
East Asia: Zhang Jie, Beijing

Designers and Design Teams

Regional Overview

Alphabetical Overview

Digital platform as a collborative network

The digital platform devised under the guidance of Alex Kufus will accompany the touring exhibition. The project will network with the respective local maker scene in the exhibition location, and will offer practice oriented design study workshops that pick up on regionally developed upcycling methods and make them accessible online. At the same time, the platform is intended to be a forum where interested parties worldwide can form alliances, gather experience and enter into dialogue.

Pure Gold. Upcycled! Upgraded! / Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ed.). – Stuttgart: ifa, 2017. – 385 pp.

Pure Gold. Upcycled! Upgraded! / Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ed.). – Stuttgart: ifa, 2017. – 385 pp. – 30 € – order

Photo: Anja Beutler © ifa

Paper Balls and Plastic Bags – Pure Gold?

Why does design thrive on waste? Which role do upcycling and recycling play worldwide? A report about the two day conference "Trash it? Burn it? Use it!" in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) has for many years dealt with socially critical issues. Not only does it look at the crafting of objects, but also the industrial production processes from raw material to end product. Following an exhibition about the causes and consequences of plastic waste, came "Fast Fashion. The Dark Side of Fashion" which is on a worldwide tour since 2015. The current exhibition, "Food Revolution 5.0", critically investigates the global food industry and consumer behaviour.

Coming up:

17.05.2018 – 22.07.2018
Bangkok, Thailand

In the context of a design spring in cooperation with EUNIC partners
Scott Webb, via Unsplash