Here, at the Slow Factory, we come from a generation of dreamers.
We grew up in the 1980s, as part of a conscious generation who wants a better process for creating impactful change. We are last generation to know a world without Internet and the first to put it to good use.
Our partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stems from this place: We grew up with it. It’s part of our collective memory. Our formative experiences—skateboarding with friends, eating popsicles that dripped fluorescent ice down our panda tees—still, somehow, ring true. Our parents and schools raised awareness for WWF, and the panda t-shirts we wore then continue to inspire a warm devotion and duty to the earth today. They continue to represent hope. With them, there is no longer associated guilt—only opportunity and change.
There’s something about the brands and products we grow up on that trigger an immediate sense of trust and affection, regardless of whether we supported or consumed them at the time. It’s a level of comfort and loyalty so valuable and hard to achieve that a lot of products are revived solely based on nostalgia. Many of these brands are now irrelevant in a way, with goals rooted in sales rather than sustainability and functionality. But, then, there are those that have stayed true to their original intentions and that we forever want to support. WWF is one of these.
We grew up hyperaware that the planet is dying, and rapidly. WWF has taken on the role of Captain Planet. The organization is actively working to protect and preserve Earth with a tireless focus on the most fundamental areas: our oceans through their Global Ocean Program, freshwater via their Freshwater Program and our precious forests with their Forest Conservation Program.
It’s easy to understand why, as conscious designers, we’re supporters and advocates of WWF. But the relationship raises larger questions like, how do we utilize our tech-savvy knowledge to drive the message globally? In the Internet Age, it’s become easier than ever to forge partnerships and collaborations, and bring small giants together from around the world to make big change. The more personal the digital world becomes, the more powerful it can be. The opportunity to harness its powers to aid the natural world is endless.
We are the leaders, the change-makers and the ones who understand the tech and natural worlds. As part of this generation, we can combine our strengths with the tools given to us to take positive memories of change and actually make change.
We can breath new life into our panda tees and inspire our digitally-savvy, planet-savvy generation.
--Céline Semaan Vernon. Céline Semaan Vernon is an art director and UX designer with a background working for companies from General Assembly to Condé Nast. Her recent venture, Slow Factory, is a cult brand and fashion tech lab that manufactures limited edition accessories and garments by merging high-resolution digital prints of scientific images from NASA with the highest quality natural fabrics. Her work is sold at the MoMA Store, Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and the Space Museum. She lives in New York with her daughter and husband.