Agne Kucerenkaite is an award-winning Dutch/Lithuanian designer working with raw materials and waste.
After her first bachelor of Interior Architecture at Vilnius Academy of Arts, Agne successfully graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Agne is transforming secondary raw materials and waste into valuable techniques and products, seeking interaction between design, society, industry and environment. Her design process is characterised by in-depth research and analysis, experimental approach and hands-on practice, motivated by historical and sociocultural contexts. Agne creates projects with the awareness that show relevant potential and can be scaled up.
Agne Kucerenkaite is the founder of Ignorance is Bliss brand. The research-based continuous project utilises industrial waste and secondary materials and converts them into interior and exterior products of higher value. Ignorance is Bliss is giving a new identity to waste and to the built environment, with empathy for planetary health.
Agne Kucerenkaite owns many international design awards. The Ignorance is Bliss project got recognition in Lithuania as it won 1st place National Design Award in 2017, was nominated for the Dutch New Material Award 2018, shortlisted as the top 5 projects of the year in the Homeware Design category for the prestigious Dezeen Awards 2018, and in addition, her design practice was nominated for the Dezeen Awards 2019, Emerging Designer of the Year. Furthermore, Agne won the Red Dot Best of the Best Product Design Award in 2020, was shortlisted again for the Dezeen Awards 2021, Homeware Design category and is a winner of the Green Concept Award 2022.
ON WHAT DREW HER TO DESIGN
"In 2015 I was chosen by Design Academy Eindhoven to partake in a three-month exchange program in Arita, Japan. It is one of the first sites to produce porcelain in Japan. Local materials, used in porcelain and glaze production, became a subject of my material research project. I gained a lot of knowledge about the porcelain itself and production techniques, working with raw materials. When I came back from Japan, I wanted to continue, but I felt there needed to be some additional value. I started looking at waste streams because of the huge quantities of raw materials. At that time I began by analysing industrial metal waste from diverse sources and reclaiming it as a pigment for ceramics, glass and textiles. The outcome was a limited-edition homeware collection. Over time, the project’s complexity grew into in-depth theoretical and material research of diverse waste, leading to small and large-scale design applications. Ignorance is Bliss is an umbrella term for ongoing experimentation and disruptive cross-disciplinary thinking, which gradually develops into techniques and products that can be applied as architectural building materials and interior surfaces. Currently, the construction industry is responsible for 60% of worldwide material consumption. Collectively, buildings in the European Union are responsible for 40% of our energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, which mainly are originating from construction, usage, renovation and demolition.”
HER DESIGN STYLE AND DESIGN PHILOSOPHY
"Since the Industrial Revolution, ignorance and negligence have generated environmental pollution on a mass scale. Production facilities worldwide are calculating residues by tonnes and are facing difficulties with their disposal. The conducted research with various waste streams shows that most can be repurposed in creative ways and become a part of circular models. Ignorance is Bliss solutions substitute factory-produced substances with waste or create completely new formulations and materials. Surprisingly, the irregularities present in the residue lead to more vibrant design objects. Ignorance is Bliss projects primarily focus on industrial waste and by-products as these are usually consistent, ensuring a reliable qualitative supply. Typically, secondary raw materials don't meet the 'industry standard' or are contaminated and are therefore dumped or downcycled. Reusing waste decreases the need of natural resources, reduces environmental pollution and allows materials to be used to their fullest extent.”
ON GOOD DESIGN
"For me design quality is defined by in-depth long-term collaborations between designers, environmentalists, scientists, architects, manufacturers, multinational companies and global players as the complexity can only be understood through collaborative working, transparency and the ongoing dialogue through the disciplines and industries.”
HER VIEW ON SUSTAINABILITY
"I believe that sustainability and the circular economy are the future. At the moment quite some designers are working with waste. A lot of them aspire with their projects to create a dialogue, but I think that dialogue is not enough anymore. We need to bring our ideas further than that by working together with the public and industries. We tend to close up in our inner circles while the disciplines should share more and work towards the same goal. My ambition is to challenge the current industrial mass-manufacture. There has to be a change in perception. A good example is mass industry quality control. If there is a slight difference in colours, it is mostly discarded. Single designers and studios such as myself are important towards the stimulation of new approaches to sustainable innovation as there is more space for experimentation in finding creative ways and taking risks. Consumers are shaped a lot by the internet, social media and trendsetters. Luckily recycling, upcycling, circularity, and similar terms became a positive trend in all fields recently. Big brands are playing a key role in this. Education is very important and the more we talk about the issues and see the information around, the more it gets into our system and becomes a new norm.”