Communication system based on researching the history and origins of The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, then translating this research into a design system focused on decolonizing their botanical collection
In collaboration with:
Timeline: 6 weeks
A walk around Kew Gardens is also a walk around the world, with plants taken from and architecture which takes inspiration from buildings throughout the globe. During the Age of Imperialism, Britain depended almost entirely on the exploitative labor of people living in what were then British colonies to garner their wealth. The relationship between science at Kew and the Royal Government was integral to this system, and its significance cannot be understated nor should it be ignored.
Our goal was to educate visitors on the imperial origins of Kew Gardens, and how they used plants native to their colonies, like cinchona and rubber, to expand the Gardens and consequently their empire. But we wanted to frame this experience more as a celebration of education rather than simply bringing down the gardens. Their contribution to scientific knowledge is also important, and the Gardens are obviously not going anywhere.
The Field Guide contains information about the colonial origins of some of the different plant houses and ornamental buildings throughout the Gardens. On the reverse side of the accordion, visitors can read about the role Kew played in different British colonies throughout the 19th century.
The KewbStamp Interaction
Visitors carry the Field Guide with them throughout the gardens, and use the front and back cover to collect stamps as they learn about the origins of different plants in the gardens.
The KewoskInteractive Kiosk Prototype
Upon finishing their walk through the gardens, visitors are able to use the stamps they collected to create a customized poster which they can take home with them.
(re)solution explores concepts of resolution and transparency both literally, through the use of pixel-based graphics, and figuratively, by providing clarity, or higher resolution, to visitors as they move through the space. However, it only begins to answer questions surrounding decoloniality at Kew and how we deal with the inherited actions of colonists from hundreds of years ago now, in the digital age.
Take-Home Poster/Zine and Bag
By sending visitors home with a keepsake which tells the story of how Kew took control of crops like rubber, and to a lesser extent sisal, we prompt the continuation of learning and education, while at the same time celebrating what visitors have accomplished thus far.