Updated: Feb 3, 2020
Designing for life...
Every day we are confronted by negative headlines about climate change and pollution, a good reason to keep our eyes open for positive effects it has on the development of new materials and new ways of production in order to treat the environment and people involved with dignity and fairness.
There are many possibilities in designing and production to have a positive impact on people and the planet. We take a closer look at a couple of companies to show how sustainable design can be innovative, inspiring and beautiful ... companies which assume responsibility.
One of these companies is Canada based Molo Design. Their award winning objects are made from paper or non-woven polyethylene textile. The elements immense strength is achieved by a flexible honeycomb structure, fanning open into stools, benches, loungers, lighting objects or tables completed by a collection of acoustic wall liners and cabinet enclosures, connecting by magnets. Both paper and the polyethylene textile are 100 % recyclable and a blend of new and recycled fibers.
Structure/connection by magnet:
In the lighting sector we would like to point out Tala, an award-winning lighting brand, based in UK. Founded by a group of friends from University of Edinburgh who could not find an LED bulb they were happy with. Tala believes that beautiful objects and efficient technology belong together. They select methods and materials based on their environmental impact and are committed to reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere.
Tala supports reforestation programs around the globe. For every 200 sold items of their brand, 10 trees are planted. They partner with The Heart of England Forest in the UK for protection of woodland, the National Forest Foundation in the US as well as WeForest, where Tala supports a project in India.
Protection of cultural heritage and ancient traditions is also an important aspect of respecting human and environmental ethics. AYOU project is one hopefully of many examples of promoting valuable knowledge handed down for many generations in working with natural resources like dyes and therefore supporting people to sustain their way of life. Rugs and weavings are traditionally hand-woven and dyed by man and women of remote mountainous villages of Morocco. Among others, natural dyes like kurkuma, chamomile, henna, karkade or oak bark are traditionally used and provide for the most beautiful colours.
In Europe we produce 24 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, most of it is not recycled. ecoBirdy, a new Belgium company, found a solution to recycle waste from plastic toys, which are considered difficult to recycle. The outcome is a brillant collection of kids furniture such as chairs, tables and accessories which are entirely made of recycled plastics. ecoBirdy became a certified B corporation, which means they meet the highest standards of social and environmental impact. For the founders raising awareness starts with educating the little ones so they created a children's storybook and a school program for kids aiming for a more sustainable future. Their relentless work for social and environmental responsibility doesn't stop there, with inspiring talks for awareness and exhibitions, the founders dedication is admirable. Their work was recognized by several awards. We like!!
One of the first companies to take responsibility in the paint industry to move towards emission-free and environmental friendly products is Farrow and Ball. They not only moved to an entirely water based range of paints, exceeding the standards for Volatile Organic Compounds Emissions, but are also committed to recycling, who they work with to ensure the source of ingredients and are rejecting animal testing - without compromising on quality. Their commitment has been recognized by awards and certifications Farrow and Ball received every year since 2005.
Their new collection "colour by nature" features 16 colours drawn directly from the natural world as a result o the collaboration with the Natural History Museum.
Looking for sustainability in the building sector we recently visited the SwissBau in Basel,
a leading construction fair in Switzerland. Besides several events dealing with this topic we were impressed by the smart water system by Grohe. Still, medium and sparkling water in the optimum drinking temperature will come directly from the kitchen faucet, added with magnesium and filtered to get rid of chlorine, pesticides and bacteria, especially for regions with poor water quality. It prevents the use of up to 800 bottles per family of four every year and reduces CO2 emissions by more than 60 %. Reducing plastic waste has never been more pressing. Considering that it takes 7 liters of water just to produce a single liter of bottled water, this water system should be the drinking water source of the future.
There is a fast development towards environmental and social responsibility in the design industry happening but so much more is needed. Certifications and awards are a motivation for companies to do good and right and help customers to differentiate. We are curious to see further great ideas, new technologies and good designs in the months and years to come and will stay informed for you.