Royal Academy of Arts - Eco-Visionaries – London, UK

2019 – Completed

Low-waste exhibition design for Eco-Visionaries show at the Royal Academy of Arts

Delvendahl Martin was appointed to design the Eco-Visionaries exhibition, an exhibition that examined humankind’s ecological impact on the planet.

At this critical moment in the history of the planet, the exhibition presented innovative works that reconsider the relationship between humans and nature and offer alternative visions for the future. The exhibition featured works by 21 international practitioners in a wide range of media, including film, sculpture, immersive installation, architectural models and full-scale prototypes, all interrogating how art and architecture can help us respond to a rapidly changing world. 

Delvendahl Martin has established a solid track record designing exhibitions and gallery spaces. Our work in this field has highlighted the potential wastefulness of the exhibition industry, and the way in which high quality bespoke interventions, which are constructed from scratch, often have no life beyond the exhibition. The practice is therefore working to implement an approach that brings sustainability to the forefront of the design process and delivery. 

The approach at Eco-Visionaries was to build little from scratch, making use of existing resources and reclaimed materials as much as possible. Free-standing plinths and furniture have been borrowed and salvaged from recent and past exhibitions. The caption ledges throughout have been designed to be fabricated with recycled wood and board material, using up offcuts to minimise waste and providing a resource that can be used for future exhibitions. In the design of the partition screens, which are made from promotional banners from previous exhibitions, we have explored the re-use of an available resource to produce something altogether new. The technical and fabric solutions for the structure have been developed in collaboration with textile designer and upcycling expert, Barley Massey, to produce an intervention which is modular, efficient and cost effective - for which a life beyond this exhibition is envisaged. Elsewhere, single-use plastics are being avoided altogether, instead using sustainable materials that are chosen for their low environmental impact, such as plywood, paper and card, recycled wherever possible.

Delvendahl Martin worked in collaboration with Daly & Lyon in the development of the graphics strategy, to ensure that these aims extended throughout every aspect of the design.

Fundamentally, the aim throughout was to reduce process, material demand, carbon footprint and waste, by proposing an efficient design that relied on a few carefully placed interventions to organise the space.

Project Team

Joanna Barnes


Pedro Gadanho

Gonzalo Herrero Delicado

Mariana Pestana

Rose Thompson


Graphic Design

Daly & Lyon


Agnese Sanvito