Pharmacopoeia

Publication developed during a Principal Residency at La Becque, Switzerland in collaboration with: Sarah Schneider and Geneviève Marie Sainte, Phytosphere Swiss Lab, Valais; Viviane Fontaine, Paper Artist, Gruyère Region; Jagoda Wisniewska, Photographer, Lausanne.

Pharmacopoeia is a publication that showcases an exploration of cosmetic and medicinal uses of Swiss flora that I carried out at La Becque Artist Residency, and how plants are (or can be) approached from different disciplines.

Pharmacopoeia es una publicación que muestra una exploración de los usos cosméticos y medicinales de la flora suiza, con un enfoque en los jardines de La Becque, Residencia de Artistas, y cómo las plantas se abordan (o pueden abordarse) desde diferentes disciplinas.

Prologue

A Pharmacopoeia is a descriptive and technical catalog of medicinal drugs, normally published in an official format by different countries. This type of document originates in a historical and systematic way of documenting plants for their healing properties. In the fields of healing (pharmaceuticals) and wellbeing (cosmetics), the transformative processes of plants have made way for products that we have easily embraced for their practical and efficient aspects. In many cases it is difficult to distinguish the synthetic from the natural within these products. What does this mean regarding the relationship between human and nature?

Furthermore, global scale systems and mass industry models have led us to currently depend on a limited number of resources. According to a 1997 study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world population gets more than 50% of its caloric intake from only three crops. Similar occurrences can be observed in different industries, such as textile with cotton, building with concrete, among others. Each time it makes more sense to propose smaller production chains that depend on specific local know-how and resources in order to fulfill the needs of the specific context.

Needless to say, the integration of circular and sustainable criteria (without disregarding practicality and viability) whilst developing a product is beyond urgent. The present publication compiles the findings of a product designer regarding the relations between plants and our wellbeing within a 6 month stay in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, and is part of an ongoing exploration into the potential of biodiversity within the design field.

Pharmacopoeia and Herbier Project presentation,
Library of La Becque Artist Residency
Köhler’s Medicinal Plants (1887), Library of the Cantonal Botanical Museum and Gardens of Lausanne