You, the Ocean and Me: Doodles in a Designer's Diary

Welcome to Planet Ocean. Our world; a place covered two-thirds by water. And when I close my eyes, this is what I see: the same calm blue sea. But maybe that’s just me. I know that the reality is very different, I know that our oceans are increasingly awash with plastics, and it breaks my heart. This is the inconvenient truth that ruins my playground - my muse. 


As designers and makers we have a responsibility for what we create – is it even needed in the first place? I recently heard the expression “Think end of life at the beginning of life.” I like this. Dieter Rams says “Good design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment”. These are quotes that inspire, musings that make sense especially when the thing that you design, (i.e shorts,) are to be worn in the very environment that you care so much for, the sea! They carry even more weight when the very material that your shorts are made out of, (i.e plastic), is the same thing that is choking the sea.


This is the foundation for a connection between nature, design and people. A connection that is a new and deep passion: the idea that everything is as important as each other; the idea that if you can create perfect harmony in all elements then good will come out. It is the foundation for a hope that design can inspire. It’s strange to think that, having started my working life as a clothing designer where image is often paramount, I’d think like this. Perhaps it is the sea. Perhaps it has cast its spell on me.  


So here’s to tailoring the beautiful from the ugly; to creating positive solutions for plastic problems. Here’s to turning bottles into boardshorts and protecting what we love. Because when my children’s children look out to the horizon, I want them not to have to close their eyes, but instead say, “Welcome to Planet Ocean” and for it to look like this.


Riz Smith

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