Aerseeds is a project to accelerate forestation and natural regeneration. It was developed by two sisters, Begüm and Bike Ayaskan, and was awarded by the Royal College of Arka. We talked about nature, the importance of reward and creating a good future.
It’s good to get into the subject quickly. Aerseeds is a project created to accelerate reforestation and natural regeneration. Two-stage. It primarily aims to feed the soil with nutrient wastes and improve the top layer of the soil. Next comes the creation of healthy forests by increasing biodiversity with local seeds. This project won an award last month at the Terra Carta Design Lab. Competition; It was founded with the support of Prince Charles of England, Sir Jony Ive, Royal College of Arka and Sustainable Initiatives Market. For the next 12 months, Sir Jony Ive will mentor the four winning groups. In addition, relationships will be established with Sustainable Initiatives Market partners according to the needs of each team. This is the first year of the competition. It is a competition open to Royal College of Arka graduates and students, and it is aimed to be repeated every year. The aim is to support ideas that bring solutions to climate change and facilitate their implementation. This year, four groups won the competition together with Studio Ayaskan; Aerseeds, Amphibio, Tire Collective and Zelp. Each project touches on very important different areas. Begüm and Bike Ayaskan tell the rest.
Can you talk about the process of the Terra Carta Design Lab competition?
The competition started in October with 125 teams in the first stage, 64 squads advanced in the second stage. Intensive start-up design and mentoring programs were held with the Terra Carta Design Lab staff and RCA’s Innovation RCA department. In the middle of the cadres, there were newcomers from different backgrounds like us, as well as start-ups that have been working for a long time. In the third stage in January, 20 staff members were selected and a project-specific mentoring program was held again. Frankly, this process was to prepare us to become impressive entrepreneurs. Especially since our experience is art and design oriented, it has been a process that prepares us for the start-up world. The competition has just concluded, however, the support and interest we have received has been tremendous.
You won the award with the design project that fights the climate crisis. How did that make you feel?
We are very happy that we won the competition. We believe that in nature, everything is interconnected and interacting, and that these principles should be applied to every branch and circular economy that includes nature should be created for industries and systems that operate more appropriately. It is very important for us that different areas of the industry work together. This is why winning the Terra Carta Design Lab competition with Aerseeds is very important to us. Our background is in art, design and architecture. With our new company, Aerseeds, we will have the opportunity to unite science and industry around our project and demonstrate that circular economics can be much more inclusive.
Studio Ayaskan is an art and design focused enterprise. But by incorporating science into their projects with Aerseeds, they are showing that circular economics can be much more comprehensive. (Pictures from the design stage of the Aerseeds project above.)
At Studio Ayaskan, you reinterpret the concepts related to nature through new technologies. Can you talk a little bit about the experiences you’ve created?
After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2015, we established Studio Ayaskan with our art and design projects. Inspired by the flow of time and the cycles of nature in our work, we were always researching new materials and technologies. In our works with Studio Ayaskan, we see time as a part of the design process, inspired by the cycles of nature. There are always elements in our work that change over time. Our interest in nature led us to research projects related to the environment, and in time, we started to develop projects related to the environment in addition to the works of our studio. First, we started by researching projects that make nature part of the solution in different fields (architecture, science, art, design…). When the climate problem is shown to be much bigger and more complex than ours, it is thought that the solutions should be complex as well. However, the self-healing power of nature is incredible. We must learn to live in harmony with nature. Our aim with both Aerseeds and Studio Ayaskan is to encourage more people to listen to nature and to inspire new solutions with the forces of nature.
“Our interest in nature led us to research more projects related to the environment, and over time, we started to develop projects related to the environment in addition to our studio’s work.”
Begüm and Bike Ayaskan
Circular life you want to highlight with your Aerseeds project?
Everything in nature is interconnected and interacting, we believe that these principles should be applied to every part of industry and systems in order to function better, and that circular economies that include nature should be created. On the one hand, hunger is mentioned, on the other hand, one third of the food products produced are waste. When these go to waste as waste, they are produced in vain without being completely evaluated, and they cannot combine with chemicals and return to nature. We realized that this could be an opportunity for us through forestry research. Because almost a third of the top layer of soil has disappeared. The biggest challenge in forestation studies is the low survival rate of seeds. This is due to the fact that the soil is kind of dead and has lost its ability to hold water. With the Aerseeds project, we will ensure that nature renews itself by returning food waste to nature. In fact, we link three issues (deforestation, nutrient waste, and soil loss) in a cyclical fashion. Our goal is to ensure that this can be done on a large scale. So we will have to develop both methods and systems. Over the next 12 months, we will continue to work to simplify the project and make it adaptable to different geographies. We want to make production and distribution as much as possible with local and local people. Our aim is to bridge the gap between global partners and industry.
On the clock side: “Sand” project, “Trace” shared at the Lexus Design Awards, and “Growth” inspired by origami art.
That’s when this project will turn into practice on a large scale… What is needed for its transformation?
Our Aerseeds project is about regenerating and reforesting the land. Streamlined forms of food waste and seeds spread to the soil with the wind, accelerating the regeneration of nature. The first phase of the project is primarily aimed at feeding the soil with nutrient wastes and improving the top layer of the soil. The second stage is to create healthy forests by increasing biodiversity with local seeds. The most important factor that will shape this process is to educate people, organizations and governments and to highlight the long-term benefits of forestry. Tree planting projects do not necessarily provide one-to-one biodiversity. Uniform afforestation projects can actually cause more damage to nature and increase epidemics in the middle of trees. It is said that bananas and coffee may disappear in a few years. Ecosystems formed as a result of the complex mechanisms of nature are much stronger, heavier and more robust. The goal shouldn’t be just carbon storage. Biodiversity will always be at the forefront of us when we implement Aerseeds. Our aim with Aerseeds is to establish local and global subsidiaries, to spread our project as open innovation to the whole world and to establish a strong network that supports each other. On the other hand, we want to show that economic models can also develop by sharing. In order to balance climate change, approximately 0.9 billion hectares need to be forested and we have very limited time for this. We need to change both our connection with nature and our working formulas and move on to a period where we always produce analyzes together. Therefore, it is very expensive for us to start the business with Terra Carta Network, besides the R&D of the project, for us to establish this social network. In addition, having such strong organizations behind us helps us to open the doors to others by giving more faith to us to try the procedures we want to develop. It makes you feel that besides people and states, organizations and the business world are also ready for this change. As we bring Aerseeds to life, we will need to rekindle many people’s connection to nature.
“With the Aerseeds project, we will ensure that nature renews itself by returning food waste to nature.”
You are working to make the world a more livable place. How optimistic are you about the future?
The self-correcting power of the world and nature is very high. The most valuable point for us is to put nature at the center of decisions about the climate crisis and to make the words used in climate change positive. Because it is always presented in the media as if we are at war with climate change. According to studies, climate anxiety is very high in the new generation and it is always felt as if we are running out of time. When this happens, the feeling of helplessness comes to the fore. The usual climate crisis is much bigger than us. We cannot solve this problem alone, and we are not alone. We believe that we can live in a more stable form with nature after we collectively start to take the correct steps. The fact that the industry also supports these bets is just the beginning of this process.
You also work on the concept of time, what interests you in this field?
Time is actually a module of everything; part of our existence and perception. We experience the physical world through time. Before time became too mechanized, it developed as a concept based on cycles in nature and has always shaped people’s lives. For example, humans were able to follow the time from the positions of the sun, the stars, and the tides of the ocean, that is, time with the physical world was always seen as a whole. People’s rhythm is actually not that mechanical, and we think we should be more flexible in our approach to time. We believe that the objects around us can also provide this. There are no indications of the flow of time around us except clocks. If we remove the clocks and windows from a room, it becomes difficult for us to perceive the rest of the time. Time is very precious for us because of our desire to be one with nature again. This is the reason why we always combine mechanical elements with spontaneous elements in our designs. For example, in the Trace project we did for the Lexus Design Awards, we wanted to dissolve pigments that change color with light in liquid, because we wanted different models to form in each cycle. Again, Aerseeds is entirely a project to accelerate the regeneration of nature and a study of nature making many of the decisions.
What kind of working system do you have as two brothers?
We lived our entire education process and business life together. We came to the UK together in 2009 and have always shaped our decisions with the desire to start a business together. We are both interested in many subjects, photography, art, nature, architecture, science… We can say that our business life has always developed more naturally. We shape ideas by sharing them with each other. For example, Aerseeds started two or three years ago. It turns out that the idea was much different. We came up with a business plan with Aerseeds that could provide circular economy, by reading the results of many researches and researching the existing formulas for forestry. In this process, we were always sharing ideas with each other. In the business part, the most valuable thing for us is to shape the process and determine the goals. We usually share the work to be done and trust each other, and when a new opinion is needed, we share the work again.
“Tree planting projects do not necessarily provide one-on-one biodiversity. One-of-a-kind afforestation projects can actually cause more damage to nature and increase epidemics in the middle of the trees.”
Next is reshaping the projects we made with Studio Ayaskan based on Aerseeds. We think that art and climate change have a lot of contact and should be approached more positively. We want to continue our two businesses in a way that complements each other.
Article: Aykun Tasdoner
Photos: Studio Ayaskan, Royal Collage of Art
Taken from ELLE Turkey June 2022 issue.