Interview by Lula Criado
Zimbabwe-born and London-based Natsai Audrey Chieza is a designer, researcher and futurist bringing a new perspective to design that encompasses science and technology. Her conceptual work, ideas and thoughts are expressed in such a way that the viewer is invited to think differently about the role of science and design on society and the environment.
Faber Futures is a design project developed in collaboration with Professor John Ward (UCL) that blends design strategies with living systems to create the first collection of printed textiles that use dyes produced by bacteria.
Natsai Chieza draws future scenarios that make us reconsider the role of the designer. Her project Design Fictions: Posthumanity in the Age of Synthetics is a speculative project developed to provoke dialogue into the ethical implications of technological progress and the consequences of manufacturing with emerging biotechnologies.
What is more important: to take or not to take yourself too seriously in order to be creative?
My work ethic is serious; a lot of time, energy and discipline must be applied in order to realize one’s creative pursuits. I approach my ideas with a robust level of critical thinking, always questioning and open to where answers may inspire a different direction.
However, accepting where things have gone wrong is part of not taking yourself too seriously, because the design is a discipline with an infinite learning curve. I try to do both to maintain a healthy balance.
What’s your favourite time of the day?
I love to cook so making a meal is where I can get lost for a while and make something delicious. Being enveloped in my thoughts and senses, in the tastes, smells and textures of the process is an incredibly calming process. Sharing this is truly fulfilling.
Solitude or loneliness, how do you spend your time alone?
When I find myself alone I will turn the radio on, listen to BBC World Service radio or to some music, and read a book. Sometimes being alone means that I can do mundane things like housework & laundry.
I am almost always surrounded by people- at work, I share a studio; I come from a very large family, so it has always been rare to have a solitary moment. Perhaps I am not as well adjusted to being alone, I guess that’s why I always try to keep myself busy.
Have you found beauty in unexpected places/situations?
Beauty is everywhere if you open your eyes. I studied architecture and seem to have a deep appreciation for brutalism and honest simplicity in aesthetics and experiences. I look up a lot, and the space in between is always interesting- even metaphorically.
In the city people don’t look up, it’s like another stratosphere of visual stimulus we have forgotten because our necks are cranked down towards our touch screen. Anyway, anything can be beautiful it’s about the context.
What do you want to achieve before you die?
I really want to be happy. It means a lot of different things if you die content.
One for the road… What are you unafraid of?
I am not afraid of trusting myself, taking risks, and being wrong. Perhaps in that order.