Ecologically sound design should have a minimal impact on the natural environment, and this means considering the impact at every point in the life cycle of a product. By taking into account a cradle-to-grave analysis of design the amount of wastage can be minimised. Recently there has been an emerging sustainable design movement that has a strict conscience. In the sustainable design process, considerations such as the origin of materials, manufacturing and how the piece is disposed of have the ability to shape the form of the product itself. With the help of good design, sending end-of-life products straight to landfill can become a thing of the past and we can move on to reuse and recycle.
Aspects of ecologically sound design include the use of renewable materials instead of plastics, and reusing items that would otherwise be thrown away as part of the 600,000 tonnes of rubbish Brits dispose of every year. Emissions during transportation can easily be minimised: flat pack furniture is a good way of doing this as it takes up relatively little space, which means fewer trips are needed. Emissions during manufacture can also be reduced and eliminate much of the pollution from dyes, paints, glues and chemical treatments that characterises mass-manufacture of furniture. But all is not lost, and with London Design Week just around the corner, British eco-designers are gearing up to inspire, excite and hopefully convince the sceptics that green homeware really can be chic. From Ross McBride's coat stand to Giles Miller's wardrobe; it's clear that eco furniture has the legs to take on the mainstream competition and win.
The SAYL office chair by Herman Miller
This is no ordinary office chair. This is a special ergonomic office chair designed by Yves Behar under the Herman Miller brand name. The shape is based on that of a suspension bridge, and delivers on comfort as well as sustainability. Materials used in the finished chair are kept to a minimum and the SAYL is manufactured on a production line that utilises 100 per cent renewable energy resources. Herman Miller themselves have some laudable company-wide sustainability goals in place for 2020; notably a zero carbon footprint, zero landfill and zero hazardous waste generation.
For more information, go to: www.hermanmiller.co.uk
Edgar coat stand by Ross McBride
This beautifully pared-down coat stand was created by Ross McBride, the winner of the 2010 Red Dot Design Award, and is styled in the shape of a tree. The biomorphic piece is made using the minimum number of materials and, as it's flat packed, it takes up less space for shipping purposes. The product has been designed for exceptionally easy 'fit and lock' assembly, a pair of hands is all you’ll need and there are no heavy instruction manuals in sight. The stand itself is made from organic plywood; an environmentally friendly alternative to solid wood as the thin wooden layers and ash veneer make it lighter and easier to transport, and uses less of the raw material.
For more information, go to: www.made.com
Lexon Tykhon Radio by Marc Berthier
Lexon are a French design company who collaborated with the designer Marc Berthier to make this award winning funky AM-FM radio. It has a contemporary design and comes in a wide variety of colours. The antenna cleverly doubles up as a rotating frequency dial, ensuring the commitment to minimalist design principles isn't compromised. Having multi-functioning buttons also means the number of buttons on the radio are kept to a minimum, and as is the amount of materials employed. The radio is encased in a rubber silicone coating that makes it splash and shock resistant, so perfect for kitchens or bathrooms. It is battery powered though, so invest in rechargeable ones to avoid unnecessary waste.
For more information, go to: www.lexon-design.com
Enzo seat by Ryan Frank
The ‘Enzo’ is a playful take on the conventional stool made from a solid chunk of spruce wood - a certified European softwood that is sourced from responsibly managed forests. The properties of the wood include durability and strength, which means that it can withstand heavy usage and is made to last. The stool is produced in the UK and distributed in the EU, while in the USA, a second producer is used in an effort to reduce transport and support local manufacturing. The designer, Ryan Frank, was recently commissioned to design sustainable outdoor furniture for the National Theatre restaurant, Terrace Bar & Food, made from reclaimed pine and industrial castor wheels.
For more information, go to: www.ryanfrank.net
Wardrobe-C by Giles Miller
Combining a traditional design with a completely unique cardboard fluting technique makes this beautiful piece (from Miller’s 2010 collection) a real modern classic. The wardrobe is made from corrugated cardboard so can easily be reused and recycled. Miller has won several awards for his environmentally friendly works, including the FX design award for ‘Breakthrough Talent of the Year, 2009’. In fact we like Giles Miller’s work so much we have one of his pieces in our office.
For more information, go to: www.gilesmiller.com
Leaf™ personal light by Herman Miller
The sculptural form of this svelte LED lamp was created to minimise the amount of material needed to produce it. LEDs also have a significantly longer lifespan than regular bulbs and cut energy usage by 40 per cent when compared with compact fluorescent lights. The light is also mercury and lead free and the use of LED means that there is no heat build up making it safer and more efficient than both compact fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. True to Herman Miller’s strict environmental standards, the Leaf™ is 96 per cent recyclable at the end of its useful life and it is made from around 30 per cent recycled materials.
For more information, go to: www.hermanmiller.com
Bolla Light by Michael Sodeau Partnership
These floor-standing lights are inspired by nature and mimic seed pods hanging from a tropical tree. Made from woven rattan, the lamps are biodegradable but remarkably durable, with rattan possessing properties similar to bamboo. The Micheal Sodeau design studio, who designed the lights for Gervasoni, specialise in creative thinking and simple solutions to design. The tactility of the rattan material and the effect it has on the dispersion of light can create a greater sense of well-being in your home. The lights come in natural rattan, ebony or matt white.
Fore more information, go to: www.michaelsodeau.com
Muji collapsible speakers
Muji are renowned for their good quality, minimalist design and these cardboard speakers are no different. They can be folded up so you can carry them around with you and are easy to reassemble. The fact that they are compatible with any music playing device with a headphone socket, means that they are incredibly versatile. The cardboard casings make them easily recyclable and even compostable. They don’t require a power source so you can plug and play anytime.
For more information, got to: www.muji.eu
TING seat belt cushion
TING was established by Inghua Ting in 2000 to produce luxury luggage, belts, wallets and home accessories, all made from reclaimed leather and seat belts. They offset their carbon footprint by supporting afforestation schemes to counter their CO2 emissions. The seat belt cushion is part of a collection including hammocks and cubes that are made using salvaged car seat belts that have not passed vehicle safety or colour tests. The design is simple and yet also durable and, like all TING products, are hand woven and stitched in London to minimise transport miles.
For more information, go to: www.tinglondon.com
Daisy 12 Lamp by Sarah Turner
Sarah specialises in making decorative lighting from waste plastic drinks bottles. Diverting plastic from landfill sites is Sarah’s aim - currently 80 per cent of pre-packaged plastic bottles end up there - and the Daisy 12 lamp is one of the most stylish ways of reducing waste we've found so far. Once cleaned and sandblasted, the bottles are then hand cut and trimmed down to different sizes, with retro decorative rings formed around the lamp base. All of her products are handmade in the UK.
For more information go to: www.sarahturner.co.uk
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