All eyes have been on the General Assembly sessions at the United Nations HQ this past week, and with good reason, there is a heck of a lot of work to be done in getting our planetary house in order. Aiding this mission is a site-specific art installation called, Nine Planets Wanted!, designed by team ZAGO LLC as part of the United Nations Development Programme’s One Planet, One Chance campaign on climate change and social inequality. There is already a wealth of information to digest on global warming, including alarming statistics and abstract data. So to avoid the possibility of information overload, ZAGO thoughtfully opted to create a multi-media lounge where visitors can take some much needed time to ponder the state of the planet by stretching out in recycled beanbags (made from discarded car interiors) and simply be present.

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Nine Planets Wanted! features twelve island-like beanbag seats displayed in a mesmerizing red and blue striped lounge situated in the U.N. HQ Visitors’ Lobby. Passersby are lured into the space and the surrounding niches displaying comparative views of carbon-dioxide volumes emitted around the world (20t per capita per year in the US, 0,2t in Haiti, for example). The exhibition designers see the project as a vital way to encourage visitors and officials to learn more about global warming in anticipation of the post-Kyoto protocol discussions in 2009.

Designed by Waste-Bcn, a Spanish company, the recycled bean bags successfully tempt viewers to sit and read the statistical newsprint headlines or watch Magnum’s photo video contribution. Key facts and figures from the UNDP’s Human Development Report from 2007/2008 is artfully presented in an unprecedented and unusually interactive manner.

One very clever feature is a wall that acts as a lenticular image as you move past it. The image shifts between CO₂ and 2º C depending on your perspective. (CO2 for carbon-dioxide emissions; 2º C rise in temperature represents the global threshold for avoiding dangerous climate change). The visual effect is achieved by suspending the stripe pattern about 6″ off the background wall in that spot.

Smart design that gets folks from all corners of the globe to focus in on the key issues, is certainly worthy of everyone’s attention. Let’s hope this does the trick and gets us to take some serious time out to institute immediate and non-politicized change.

Nine Planets Wanted! is on view in the United Nations HQ Visitors’ Lobby from September 9 – October 5, 2008.

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