London-based furniture designer and environmentalist Sebastian Cox has released a new manifesto outlining the urgent need for a shift in mindset in our relationship with the environment we inhabit. Titled ‘Modern Life from Wilder Land’, it evaluates our use of land and its resources, and the ways we can adapt to curb the exploitation of ecosystems; presenting the opportunity of a harmonious future for all species.
Modern life from a wilder land – a manifesto by Sebastian and Brogan Cox for nature-first land and … [+]
Focusing on the United Kingdom, with case studies from across the country, the document proposes solutions for industries, farmers, landowners and consumers alike, drawing valuable insight from specialists and authorities working within this field.
Cox and his wife Brogan, founders of the design studio and workshop Sebastian Cox, share a passion for the environment and constantly seek to educate themselves and others in learning how we, as humans, can take better care of it. The studio, founded in 2010, began in the pursuit of finding a way to improve the management of our woodlands. They sought to find a commercial use for coppiced hazel which resulted in the creation of their first furniture collection. In the years since, the studio has become renowned for the way it works at one with nature. Creating timeless designs for the home, their use of material is an example designers can learn from.
Environmental visionaries and designers, Sebastian and Brogan Cox, photographed in their South … [+]
Using a transportable chainsaw mill, they salvage fallen trees to hand craft bespoke commissions, as well as their own designs. Alongside this, the development of a laboratory has led to the team growing a selection of lighting designs from mycelium and green wood waste. They also operate a cradle-to-cradle offering, crafting small accessories from off-cuts and recycling their own waste back into the system.
The studio seeks to close the loop on its own production, turning off-cuts into home accessories.
This approach is a welcome alternative from the fast fashions of today, and Cox’s standpoint encourages those with influence to promote an appreciation of a ‘wilder’ aesthetic. Stating in the manifesto, he comments, “Creatives of all kinds must challenge the idea that human visual preference takes precedence over the needs of our natural order.” And, while the environmental benefits of a lifestyle connected to nature are clear, the mental wellbeing we experience, when discovering our place in the natural world, is just as remarkable.
Food and fibre production currently takes up over 70% of our land use, making the restructuring of our food intake crucial. Reducing food waste, eating a higher proportioned plant-based diet and consuming more wild food are some of the ideas included in the manifesto’s proposal. With the farming industry rightly undergoing more scrutiny, Cox encourages farmers to shift their mindset through implementing organic rotations and growing more diverse plant-based proteins, such as pulses and legumes.
Highland cattle, behaving wildly, browsing in bracken in Kent is a visual example from the manifesto … [+]
The proposal looks into our use of specific materials and, with the UK being one of the nations in Europe with the lowest forest cover, the need for afforestation is critical to ensure an increase in carbon sequestration. The decline of bio-diversity is also a rising concern as monocultures have arisen. The document outlines the need for areas of woodland and peatland to be closely managed, allowing them to flourish and capture further carbon from the atmosphere. For manufacturers and designers, Cox addresses the issues around waste and our reliance on materials derived from fossil fuels. Looking to natural crops, such as hemp and flax, could revolutionise the textile industry, alongside the development of bio-plastics and bacterially grown materials. Also tackling energy use, it states the need to move over to renewables, as well as increasing the efficiency of the energy we consume.
The Hewn Bench by Sebastian Cox is made from well managed crops of English ash and hand coppiced … [+]
Unfortunately most industries are still trailing behind the timeline laid out with the Sustainable Development Goals established in 2015, meaning time is of the essence. Designed to provoke discussion around these important topics, this guide is a must-read for all in discovering the possibilities of lifestyle well within our reach. Far from a proposal of an austere societal swing, it presents a case for us to make better choices and to consider the impacts of them. And, in doing so, it will challenge producers to drive a change in supply thereby leading to a reshaping of policies.
When discussing the impact of the document and its influence, Cox hopes to leave readers positively encouraged to act. “I felt compelled to write a document that proposes how we divide our land to fulfil our human needs while leaving room for wildlife to thrive.” He states, “We aim to inspire consumers to ask questions about the things they buy and encourage land owners to leave more room for wildlife.”
Looking forward to the future, he continues, “We must first encourage people to take responsibility for themselves and make the idea of a sustainable life appealing. Desirable objects, delicious food and fashionable clothes should have little or no impact. We must inspire designers, chefs and taste makers to act responsibly and paint a picture of how the world could be; a wilder future as a beautiful thing worth aspiring to.”
The Bayleaf Armoire by Sebastian Cox is handcrafted from London plane and woven English sycamore.
Championing the prospects of a world where economic and environmental success go hand-in-hand, the manifesto’s clear outline of nature-first land and resource use requires us to work together, collectively, in achieving this obtainable solution. By continuing to lobby for policies to change, investing in companies with a transparent supply chain, and adopting ways of reducing our own personal consumption, we all have a role to play. With visionaries like Sebastian and Brogan Cox giving us the insight into what a sustainable future could entail, we must take responsibility for our own actions as part of this. Together, we can rewrite the next decade to ensure that a legacy can be left for future generations to follow.
The manifesto, Modern Life from Wilder Land, can be purchased here.