Today, junk is shaping new landscapes, new global connections, new financial models, new policies and new modes of living around the world. Designers are indelibly linked to the systems that produce and perpetuate junk, and also to the systems that try to eliminate or transform it. As designers, we have a responsibility to understand how junk works and what it means to us and our bodies, to the land and water that sustain us, and to the multiplicity of species that co-inhabit the earth. Junk’s prevalence presents us with new frontiers and opportunities for research and for understanding, narrating and inventing the future of our world.

The 18 projects from the exhibition GEO–DESIGN: Junk. All That Is Solid Melts into Trash explore global systems of discarded things. The exhibition sets out to analyze how junk is embedded in daily life: from the industries where it is produced to the homes where it is collected and the wastelands where it accumulates. It traverses landfills and dumps, probes into the fallout of diplomatic and domestic crises, uncovers the ghosts of dead digital communities and discovers new ecosystems and economies built on detritus. It looks at junk as a microcosm, as an economic barometer that can reveal realities of consumption and production, and as a subject of intercontinental diplomacy.