The world of design is changing. Topics such as decreasing resources, climate changes and social imbalance dominate public discourses and increasingly emboss our surrounding, including everything we are used to every day.
Also the work of manufacturers, product and industrial designers includes far more than production or shaping of mass-ware. Sustainable designs are demanded: as sustainable as possible should a design and its materials be, the production conditions should be socially fair. Moreover the aim is to open new markets and catch attention in a world which is led by current and short-term trends that seem to be more important that values and inserts.
Waste (hazardous waste and other waste defined in environmental legislation) is only an intermediate step and the final emissions to the environment (e.g. methane and leaching from landfills are inventoried). Equally are all consumables, materials and parts used in the life cycle phases accounted and all indirect environmental aspects linked to their production.
More than ever, economic sense, social compatibility and ecologic needs play a role – facts that can be summarized in the “Ecodesign” topic:
- Material efficient design
- Material fair design
- Energy efficient design
- Non-polluting, waste-avoiding design
- Vivid, easy to repair and long-lasting design
- Recyclable, waste friendly and logistic friendly design*
Known manufacturer companies such as Vitra are a good example. The Eco package from Vitra is also exemplarily, “eco” means ecological as well as economic facts. Included in the eco-package is a chairs series which emerged in cooperation with the renowned designer Alberto Mesa. With the timeless and innovative design, not only a functional long-lasting is guaranteed, the desk chair MedaPal and conference chair MedaSlim moreover possess the Greenguard-certificate, the “Der Blaue Engel” (blue angel” certificate and are recyclable by 94% and 92%.
Who believes that such products aren’t user friendly and extremely expensive is wrong: because Vitra offers the chairs with a wide discount and promises a guarantee time of 10 years, overpassing the whole lifetime of some other chairs.
More positive examples regarding Eco design also came from small manufacturers such as the Canadian two-man company Furni or the Indonesian company Magno. Furni only uses waste of the Canadian furniture industry to produce the Alba ME radio alarm clock. The designer Singgih Susilo Kartono produces wooden radios in 16 hours hand work with his company Magno. His company ensures the income of many families in his hometown Temanggung (Middle Java) and gives a work perspective of fair conditions to many young employees. Also an arboretum emerged besides the workshop of the Magno company, the arboretum supplies young plants to the town. The long-term oriented ecologic sensitization of locals is a special aim of Singgih Kartono. Furthermore only cultivated wood is used for the production.
Ecologically fair and innovative also the new materials with which companies such as Muuto, Hay or Buzzispace work. All named companies produce products out of so called PET felt. PET (Polyethylenterephthalat) is especially known from PET bottles. There isn’t much that cannot be produced out of recycled cola and water bottles from the storage basket to a chair. But also other composite materials such as ceramic plastic mixtures or wooden plastic composites (WPC) are trendy, for example the Stelton young Rig-Tig collection proves it.
Other companies bet on regrown materials such as natural felt. The assortment of the German company Hey-Sign for example only consists of natural felt products (out of 100% pure new wool) with cushion covers, carpets and many textile products. The advantages: felt is permeable to air, skin friendly, elastic, warmth insulating and dirt-repellent because of its natural fat content. This means that often, pure natural products offer much more advantages at better environment protecting circumstances as plastic products.
Many designers, producers and manufacturers recognized the advantages of Eco design and adapted their product development as well as the whole production cyclus to according social, economic, technical and legal conditions. Times of obsolescence have ended, hurray to long-lasting products!