Danish designer, Mads Hagstrom, director of The FLOWInstitute at Dansk Design Centre, brought a show-stopping installation to ICFF. FlowMarket sits in the middle of the exhibit floor, enclosed in a sheer white curtain. The booth is set up as a store, but the products on the shelves are empty containers with generic labels addressing the plagues of consumer culture.

Plastic drink bottles read “Clean Tap Water”; Spam-like tins say “100% GMO”; a cold case contains aluminum soda cans labeled “Renewable Energy”; rows of pill bottles say “Valuebased Consumption.” It’s a powerful space – clean and white – with a hanging poster in the middle quoting our friend, Anna Lappe: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

What’s a little disconcerting is that this booth isn’t just set up as a store, it is one. You can buy everything you see.

And people were buying! Granted, like a gift shop in a museum, the items you can pick up at FlowMarket are low-cost compared to the pricey, high-design items on display throughout the rest of the building. They are takeaways that act as little reminders of the show, and of they wheel of consumerism we’re all spinning.

Nevertheless, I wonder how the designer reconciles selling disposable packaging as a means of criticizing overconsumption. I’m betting he has a good answer to my question, and I plan to get it. I’m officially obsessed with this project, so there will be more to come. Keep an eye out.

+ The FLOWInstitute

“Traditionally, sustainability is conceived as an environmental issue, but theFLOWinstitute has developed theFLOWmodel, which concretizes sustainable growth on three levels: Man’s relationship with himself (the individual), man’s relationship with others (the collective) and man’s relationship with nature (the environmental).”