Sunday, April 25, 2010
These wonderful wooden radios and products are the creation of Singgih Kartono, a talented award-winning designer from Indonesia. What makes them truly remarkable is the story of how Magno business came to be. Singgih comes from a village in central Javah, and when he saw economic situation there drastically deteriorating, he decided to utilize exotic local woods and skilled craftspeople to make these beautifully designed radios and office-related products. The New Craft method that Singgih's company Piranti Works employs is basically a combination of traditional craft making with efficient modern manufacturing and production elements. Moreover these products are produced in a truly green and environmentally sustainable way - Piranti replants every tree they use for production through their nursery, with a local high school participating in the effort. Everyone wins in this scenario - more local population gets employed, and more forest is being regenerated. Magno products are marketed here in the US through Areaware, an NYC-based design manufacturer, and have received Japan's coveted "Good Design" award.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Here's an example of honest, truly sustainable design that's nothing short of inspiring. Yves Behar, founder of Fuseproject consultancy partnered with Puma to rethink their shoe packaging, and broadly include the entire product lifecycle into the process. Shoeboxes result in a ridiculous waste and even after they've been reused for storage of some sort are eventually disposed of. Fuseproject studied the current manufacturing and after thoroughly attacking the problem from every angle came up with what they called a "Clever Little Bag".
Basically it's about half of the box, with a low production energy die-cut flat cardboard structure that's folded into shape without laminated printing, any tissue paper, lighter in weight than a conventional shoebox, and far more recyclable since no additional materials or parts need to be stripped out first. The bag that covers the box and protects the shoes is also recyclable, and made from recycled PET, with a non-woven method, which uses less material than woven variety, and stitched with heat. It eliminates the traditional bag you get in the store, saving more plastics yet.
So what kind of environmental benefits and saving exactly does all this design goodness result in? How about over 60% reduction in energy, water, and diesel required for manufacturing annually. Or more specifically, saving 20 million mega-joules of electricity, 264 gallons of water, 264,000 gallons of fuel, 8500 tons of paper, 275 tons of plastic, and 132,000 gallons of diesel since the reduction in shipping weight. That is what I mean by inspiring.
The new package will ship in 2011, and I sure hope that the rest of the shoe manufacturers take a good notice, since what Yves Behar and Puma came up with is no rocket science - just a serious, honest, deliberate focus on designing a product that not greenwash, but makes a significant difference in making our world cleaner and healthier, while making the packaging even more functional and pleasing to the eye than before. That's what good design is about.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
My friend and I visited NYC auto show last week; while a sad departure from the lavish glorydays of the early and mid-nineties, back when economy was actually swell enough to allow for giant stacks of cars hanging on displays in all directions, it was a good show to attend nevertheless. Noticeable was the absence of numerous concept vehicles like in the past; the few that were on display did show off some inspiring design and technology. Granite from GM was a welcome departure from what we're used to seeing coming out of motor city in the recent past; solid sculpted surfaces, angles, proportions, and refreshing interior with harmonious combination of whites, browns, and grays. Audi E-tron was easily the hottest sports ev in the green pavilion, and Toyota's FT-CH plugin hybrid's design was a welcome sight, especially when you compare it to Prius. But of course, saving the best for last, BMW in my ultra-humble opinion ruled the show, or why don't I just say rules the entire automotive world with a reliably fun, confident, balanced, and o-so-meticulously designed vehicles. The new 3 series is breathtaking, Z4's interior - pure joy, and the latest 7 series was just stunning to behold, especially their ultra-long proportions and taillight treatment. I should mention too, Volvo, Saab, and Mercedes had plenty of great products on display, to be sure - check out my large collection of shots here.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
In Payerne, Switzerland, the largest solar-powered airplane completed its maiden flight today. They are planning a 100% fuel-free/emission-free flight around the world. A truly major encouraging development in the sustainable design world. According to Bertrand Piccard who's the leader of SolarImpulse project, "The goal is to fly day and night with no fuel. The goal is to demonstrate the importance of renewable energies, to show that with renewable energies we can achieve impossible things..." While this is just the beginning, and the solar technology is nowhere near ready for commercial aviation, it the obvious first step that had to happen, and I'm celebrating that it did. This plane uses 12000 solar cells, 4 motors, and rechargeable lithium batteries. Can't wait to see the grand launch!