Designer Huachen Xin inspires social change with his Pollution Ranger and Smog Shade
Interview with Designer Huachen Xin
Source & Copyright by Huachen-Xin: The "Smog Shade" shows how dirty the air is, the higher the air pollution, the darker the glass.
Author: House of Eden Luxury Institute
The "Pollution Ranger" is a self-powered device for monitoring air quality in cities, developed by the Chinese designer Huachen Xin. It collects air pollution data, which is then publicly visualized on the so called "Smog Shade".
The Pollution Ranger is installed on taxis or Uber cars and collects air pollutiondata, as the cars are driving through the cities. This data is then displayed on the Smog Shade in public spaces, by applying a polarizing effect. The darker the shade, the worse the air quality at the respective location.
"This is particularly important in places like China, where the data provided by the government is not reliable. The public data is often collected in rural areas and is therefore not representative for the entire country," explains the designer.
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Pollution Ranger and Smog Shade giving food for thought
The collected data can also be accessed via a dedicated app. By this way, people are nationwide provided with authentic air pollution data. The interactive app shows city tags and air pollution in places that the user is interested in.
“The biggest innovation of this work is that it provides objective, real-time and accessible data to the people, trying to use this data to create an impact,” says Huachen Xin.
The purpose of the visualization is not only to let people know the air quality around them, but also to change people's behavior, start a conversation about air pollution and impose some pressure on the government, Huachen continues.
The young Chinese designer is a graduate of the British Royal College of Art. With this project he wants create alternative ways for people to gather and access “natural” air quality data, as well as a way to visualize this data in public spaces to create social impact.
Source & Copyright by Huachen-Xin
Design can only have an effect through aesthetics
"A playful, interactive, and beautiful device will definitely have a greater impact than an app alone. A designer needs to use logic and aesthetics as tools to sort out messy relationships and provide a simple and beautiful result", says Xin.
The designer wants to observe social issues through this project and use design as an approach to have a positive impact. Environmental problems are a central issue. Through this installation, Huachen finds a role in the environmental discussion. "As a designer, I want to find out what I can do in this big discussion".
Prototypes of the Pollution Ranger and Smog Shade have already been set up in Beijing and London. In China, the installation was seen as a symbol for more justice. In London people were surprised how serious the air pollution problem actually is.
“I think the design narrative itself can have some positive effects already. Perhaps it will inspire other designers, and their work finally will improve the air quality in future. I would love to see that happen", Xin says.
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Side - furniture in harmony with contemporary design and values
With his Furniture brand Side, the designer is further exploring the variety of shapes, materials and manufacturing processes of the furniture industry. Therefor, he uses the existing competitive supply chain and skillfull workforce of the Chinese market, to offer affordable furniture with a demand for high quality and aesthetics.
“A lot of western furniture brands are manufacturing their products in China. But because of the brand premium, most of the Chinese customers cannot afford these products, so the market is flooded with copied furniture”, explains Huachen Xin.
Nevertheless, factories must continue to strive for profit. So the production of these replica furniture is leading to social and environmental problems. Huachen wants to work against this movement with his furniture brand. Therefore, Side furniture is designed more user- and environmentally-friendly as well as sustainable.
“I consider sustainability as a designer responsibility. Because designer are the origin of an object. When objects are designed to harm people or the environment, it cannot be considered as good design. If more designer keep sustainability in mind, we will eventually make the world a better place”, he says.
Furniture pavilion promoting the circular economy
Together with Rooi Design the designer has further developed a modular furniture pavilion for the Chinese fair, made of plywood. Afterwards, the so called “Furniture Pavillion S”, has been converted into furniture for Chinese communities in rural areas. By doing so, the design team wanted to demonstrate how applying the principles of the Circular Economy could help to make trade fairs more environmentally-friendly.