Visitors are encouraged to sign up to borrow design-laden backpacks to explore different regions in Sweden.

DESIGNED TO LAST: Urban nomads, wear-testing, experiential, try-to-buy, upcycling — the Swedish Design Museum’s new “To Go” exhibit is geared for everyday adventurers. But it also is a reminder of the importance of sustainability. Billed as the first takeout design exhibit, the show is not held in a gallery or a museum but in four territories of Sweden. Participants book online reservations for backpacks to use for “To Go,” which officially starts in March. Visitors can then use the backpacks for a week at no charge to explore four different areas of the country — South, West, North and East, representing Malmö, Gothenburg, Umeå and Stockholm. The backpacks are from the Swedish brand Sandqvist, and are filled with Swedish-made design essentials selected by curators. Upon return, the backpacks are cleaned and put back in rotation for the next user.

Opened in 2017, the museum is a virtual one that was started by Visit Sweden, a marketing company that promotes Sweden as a destination and as a brand. Through the design program, commissioned by the Swedish government, Visit Sweden collaborated with Architects Sweden, ASFB-Association of Swedish Fashion Brands, the Swedish Federation of Wood and Furniture and Svensk Form, aim to highlight Sweden’s innovative design culture. The new venture seems to be a reminder of the projection that 148 million tons of fashion waste will be compiled by 2030, according to the Pulse of the Fashion Industry.

The West one, for example, features such Swedish made goods as an Anchor beanie from emmamalena, Icebug running or hiking shoes and an Ekelund Plaid towel. Depending on the destination chosen, museumgoers could be advised to write a postcard to a loved one in the Garden Society of Gothenburg or visit the Röhsska Museum of Design and Craft to learn more about Swedish fashion and design. For the past three years, the city has been the world’s most sustainable city, according to the Global Sustainability Index.

Aside from organizing the Icebug Xperience West Coast Trail, a three-day running race on the rocks of Bohuslän, Icebug is aligned with its home city of Gothenburg. The brand is marketed as the world’s first climate positive shoe brand. By providing shoes for the backpacks destined for Gothenburg, Icebug is spreading the word about its new effort to rent shoes from its store in central Gothenburg that starts April 1. Consumers can try the shoes for a weekend or for a special hiking or running trip. If they choose to, they can buy them but they are not obligated. A company spokeswoman explained, “So this is more of a story about how we take sustainability seriously. Rental shoes can be a great idea, if you’re not that type of person who will use them all the time. At the same time, you can rent a Thule stroller and a hiking bag pack — all from our store.”

This museum-generated concept of using art to magnify sustainability and climate change is not limited to Scandinavia. Just last week architect Rem Koolhaas unveiled “Countryside, the Future,” an exhaustive examination of how our focus on urban life has been detrimental to the countryside. 

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