Sunflower House, France, by Atelier SOA
The Paris-based practice, Atelier SOA, combined the utopian daydreams of 60s-era idealists with the latest in contemporary energy-saving technologies to create the Sunflower House, which has been designed to be self-sufficient in terms of both energy and food. Lest you think this is a blueprint for a survivalist-style log-cabin, the aesthetic is actually derived from the need to gather up sunlight and channel it into the heart of the house.
Atelier SOA’s Pierre Sartoux and Augustin Rosenstiehl point out that 20% of the world’s population consume approximately 80% of its resources, so a little more self-sufficiency would not go amiss. The architects propose ways of equitably redistributing resources. A combination of a ’family farm and communications satellite,’ the structure predicts a more localised world of telecommuting and small, intimate communities.
Structurally reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House, the circular shape also maximises flexibility when it comes to siting the house.
The Mill, Finland, by Sami Rintala and Janne Saario
Inspired by Finland’s traditional scene, The Mill is a landscape art exhibition proposal with an ecological edge. The brainchild of the architect, Sami Rintala and architectural student, Janne Saario, the project is a shelter for Kayak paddlers and hikers, which can be reached from land and water. Apart from the local cultural references, its functionality and sleek aesthetics, the Mill features an important ecological aspect: all necessary energy is taken from the river without affecting the river’s natural flow.
The structure is composed by two shelters facing each other, with the Mill/energy source placed in the water in between. The shelter will feature high insulation and special batteries to save the extra energy produced.
The project is planned for construction on the Halikko River in southwest Finland during the summer of 2008 and will be part of the Halikonlahti Green Art events series.
Essex Road House, Australia, by Andrew Maynard Architects
Andrew Maynard Architects have carved a niche for themselves in their home country of Australia. The media-savvy and technologically aware office is unafraid of mixing big conceptual designs (like the recent Corb v2.0 plan for an endlessly reconfigurable apartment building) with beautifully conceived small-scale residential works.
Unsurprisingly, a strong sustainable ethos runs through the studio’s output. The Essex Street House is typical of this attention to detail. Briefed with extending and enhancing a typical suburban Melbourne home, Maynard has used simple, pragmatic means to improve the house’s performance. The most notable feature are the sun screens, a bold feature constructed of recycled wood. This is combined with lots of insulation - ’An efficient home without the use of elaborate tactics or expensive equipment,’ according to the architects. There is also a grey-water tank and a space for a future solar panel installation, all adding up to make a suburban oasis.
Pearl River Tower, China, by SOM
Sustainability poses serious questions. Just as the motor industry has to decide whether cars are actually needed in every situation, the purveyors of high-rise architecture have had to look long and hard at the role of the skyscraper in the modern city. The general consensus is that building tall and green structures takes effort, but the alternative - traditional glass-walled boxes - is anything but eco-friendly. That’s why the big firms - Foster, Arup and SOM, HOK and KPF - are researching ways to exploit the advantages of superstructures.
The Pearl River tower in Guangzhou is SOM’s solution. Due for completion in 2009, the 309-metre tall tower has a sculpted facade that is intended to channel the high winds created by its height into a set of custom-designed turbines that will provide power, light and heat to the structure. The architects say that the building ’potentially produces as much energy as it consumes.’
Straw House, Switzerland, by Felix Jerusalem
Swiss constructions standards are famously rigorous, and the architect, Felix Jerusalem, was pleased to exceed them with his experimental Strohaus, completed in December 2005 and now happily occupied by the Stokholm family.
The key component is the structural panels formed from compressed straw, an ingenious use for a ubiquitous material that has not got the strongest of reputations when it comes to house building. Combining low cost with high insulation, the panels, developed by the German company, Stropoly, are used to form a structure around a concrete core. A translucent facade then cloaks the entire building, giving it its characteristic hue and showcasing the panels. If that was not enough, the glaring yellow interior should clue you in to Jerusalem’s approach.
Modernist House, London, by Richard Mitzman
Richard Mitzman recently gained planning permission for a unique ecological modernist house in Hampstead’s conservation area; work will begin late this spring. The design - touching Wallpaper’s soft spot for the Modernist style - maintains a minimalist character of distinct volumes, clean lines, open planning and a combination of light and transparency.
The planned sustainable aspects are numerous; walls, windows and glass sheathing will be super-insulated, added louvers to the rear facade will reduce heat gain, rainwater will be harvested for irrigation and low emissivity ’E’ coatings will be used. The whole house will be fitted with an efficient underfloor radiant heating system, aerating taps, low volume showerheads, high efficiency light bulbs and wood sourced from sustainable managed forests.
Mitzman aims for a seamless blend of ecological features, rejecting the ’eco-architect’ label: ’Sustainability is a really important issue and it should be an integral part to all good architecture.’
Torre Cube, Guadalajara, by Carme Pinos
In the world of high-rise buildings, Carme Pino’s Cube Tower in Mexico is unique. The tower is located in the up-market Puerta de Hierro area and named after its clients, Cube Internacional.
It follows the Catalan architect’s nature-inspired vision. The highly functional office building makes the most out of natural light and vertical ventilation through special structural techniques, and makes air conditioning completely unnecessary. Its three basic concrete cores not only support the whole structure, but also carry all equipment, leaving the centre empty for optimum air circulation. According to Pino’s: ’The light passes through the whole building in the same way that it glides through the branches of a tree.’
In an area stripped from trees to give way to new commercial developments, this is actually a skyscraper that achieves a dynamic balance between sense and sensibility, tall-building design and harmony with the natural environment.
Eco-Boulevard Project, Madrid, by Ecosistema Urbano
Inspired by the earth’s natural air purifiers - the trees - the Madrid-based architects Ecosistema Urbano recently proposed an innovative and highly eco-friendly structure to contribute to urban bio-climatic conditioning. The award-winning Eco-Boulevard project of Vallecas, also referred to as Air Trees, does exactly what it promises and what its nickname suggests.
Constructed from recycled materials, the ’trees’ are light, easily dismantled, completely autonomous, energy efficient through the use of solar photovoltaic panels and use natural vegetation to produce passive air conditioning. Three Air Trees - sponsored by the Life Programme of the European Commission - have been ’planted’ in Vallecas, in the extension of the Spanish capital, running 550m long and 50m wide. Eco-Boulevard - described by its creators as ’an operation of urban recycling’ - is only one of the many environment-orientated projects of Ecosistema Urbano, a collective committed to sustainable and ecological architectural research and design.
Stellar Tower, Dubai, by Make Architects
Make’s initial reputation was as purveyors of high-gloss instant icons, but delve deeper into the rich visuals of their portfolio and you will find that sustainable concerns underpin much of their fascination with new forms, bold facades and innovative materials.
With a flared base reminiscent of one of Mae West’s outfits, the Stellar Tower will have a prominent location in Abu Dhabi, its gold-coloured skin shimmering in the desert sun and generally giving off the impression that this is a totem of wealth and excess. Far from it; the flared top not only maximises rentable space but ensures there is plenty of room for the wind turbines, and also helps save as much rainwater as possible. Seawater is used in the cooling system, and the angular, faceted facade of the 255m high tower is designed to prevent solar gain, making the interior a calm, shady place to be.
Shenandoah Retreat House, Virginia, by Carter and Burton
Located in a beautiful spot of rural Virginia, the Shenandoah retreat house - completed in January 2007 - is the work of the architecture firm Carter and Burton. The studio is not only committed to modern design, but aims to combine high quality aesthetics with solar techniques and eco-friendly materials.
The volumes are separated to make the most out of natural light and ventilation and the central tower takes advantage of the chimney logic airflow, forcing warm air out the top. The volume arrangement may add to the house’s ecological conscience, but also produces airy and well-lit interiors, and sleek texture combinations. The house features passive solar design strategies, hydronic (hydraulic) radiant floor heat, recycled aluminium windows, NEFF formaldehyde-free plywood kitchen cabinetry and locally crafted structural materials.
The architects argue: ’The use of regional materials in inventive ways creates an enduring sense of place, reinforcing sustainable concepts.’
Toilet Pavilions, Sydney, by Lacoste-Stevenson Architects
Eco design applies to all scales, argue the Australian architects, Lacoste-Stevenson, when recently opening their latest eco-orientated project. Setting aside larger commissions, the architects focused on the sustainability of three simple toilet pavilions in the new Blaxland Riverside Park by the Parramatta River, within Sydney Olympic Park.
The design consists of three circular modules, reducing the bulk and scale of the standard toilet blocks. All the materials are left in a raw state; oiled hardwood, clear-sealed concrete slabs and rusted weathering steel roofs. The timber used is recycled and the rooms take advantage of cross ventilation and natural light between the slats, and through a skylight in the roof. Water-saving taps and cisterns have been used to reduce water consumption.
The three pavilions opened in early 2007.
COR Tower, Miami, by Chad Oppenheim
You may think that in sunny Miami, taking advantage of solar power would be the way to go in gaining eco-power. However, Chad Oppenheim’s planned COR tower will prove that wind is a much better option.
COR tower - a steel frame mixed-use condominium complex in the Miami Design District - is designed to rise up to 400ft tall on a tiny footprint. Its environmentally friendly features include wind turbines, a clever skin which acts as the main bearing structure, a solar shade and a thermal mass for insulation, as well as big holes to allow visibility and hot water collectors.
Oppenheim’s studio aims to build the first Miami eco-tower, integrating all the energy efficient elements to its highbrow design and refinement. Collaborating closely with Buro Huppold environmental consultants and engineer Ysrael Seinuk, the planned work is expected to start in late 2007 and completed 20 months later.
Solar House, Stuttgart, by (se)arch
How much more ecology orientated can you get than designing a house completely energy efficient and independent from the conventional energy providers?
With the last garden works completed in 2006 and located on a slope in the outskirts of Stuttgart, (se)arch’s Solar House is an experimental single-family house, relying on alternative forms of energy. The building’s heating system is based on solar thermal collectors that accumulate energy in a buffer, which in turn powers the floor and water heating - supported, occasionally, by traditional wood-burning.
Stefanie and Stephane have designed the house as a single geometric volume; the living space spreads in four levels, allowing maximum flexibility with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors. The materials are basic; a solid prefabricated wood construction sits on top of a steel I-beam structure. The house is not only technically one step towards the ecological dream, but also is functionally connected to the surrounding nature via its layout plan.
Via Verde, South Bronx, by Phipps-Rose-Dattner-Grimshaw
Developers, The Phipps Houses and Jonathan Rose Companies; New York-based Dattner Architects; and architects, Nicholas Grimhsaw and Partners, all joined forces to produce the winning proposal for a sustainable and affordable housing development to rejuvenate a street in South Bronx, New York.
The team of architects and developers are aiming for a top grade in environmental friendliness by using sustainable material and efficient mechanical systems such as individual apartment control of heating and cooling, and sun screens on the south and west facades.
Committed to using recycled and renewable materials throughout, as well as low-VOC paints and sealants, Via Verde is sure to make a contribution to the well-being of its owners; both by its economic and its long-term environmental advantages. According to the current schedule, work on the site is expected to start in early 2009.
Dongtan Eco-City, China, by Arup
Dongtan is a big leap forward, in every respect. Arup, the world’s leading engineering consultancy, had some 300 projects in China under its belt when it won this master-planning job back in 2005. Dongtan is more than just another major chunk of new infrastructure. The commission is to design an entire eco-city on an 86sq km site that incorporates three villages.
Planned as a walkable city - with housing close to public transport and facilities - the aim is to combine elements of traditional and modern planning and architecture. The finished city promises to be a landscape of green roofs, linked by cycle paths, lit by electricity from a biomass-fuelled combined heat and power station and buffered from the surrounding mudflats by a wide strip of reclaimed wetlands.
With China’s industrial growth attracting more opprobrium than plaudits, the country needs more ventures like Dongtan to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the environment.
From anyone else we may think plantable packaging impregnated with seeds was a mere gimmick, but Pangea already have us on their side with good-looking, recyclable bottles, clean pharmaceutical graphics and witty strap lines - ’ecocentric body care, always beneficial never artificial’.
They also boast a no-nonsense organic approach to their formulas - no petrochemicals, parabens, GMOs or other synthetic ingredients. The seeded packaging is a step up from its previous, award-winning compostable boxes made from 100% post-consumer newsprint - no glues or dyes. The update adds seeds to the moulded fibres - flowering amaranth in the bar soap boxes, edible Genovese sweet basil in the facial care products and body oils. When the boxes are no longer needed they can be soaked in water and planted one inch below the soil’s surface - tumbling purple blooms or sweet medicinal herbs will appear.
There is little surprise that Pangea is the fastest growing organic skincare company in the world.
Perfect Organics may spell out its primary mission statement in its title and does do a good job of sticking to high quality organic ingredients and eschewing all artificial ingredients and synthetic preservatives in all its skin and bodycare products.
Less apparent is the resolutely green business practices behind the scenes hinted at in its secondary mission statement: ’There can be no long-term health or beauty without clean air, soil and water.’
It employs waste-reducing packaging techniques such as using recyclable metal tubes for its lip and cheek shimmers and recycled boxes for shipping.
Eco-friendly processes and design are applied to its labs, its retail stores and headquarters outside Washington DC - here bamboo predominates and the walls are painted with low-VOC paints.
It also meets our first call - the packaging looks stylishly modern and is worthy of the smartest sink.
Nature Girl’s fresh graffiti-style packaging was designed by the company’s founder, Nannette Pallrand, whose background in the music business helped create the hip hop-inspired design. ’Hip hop celebrates diversity of thought, ideas, feelings, sounds, experience, etc... and so it seemed appropriate to use this design for my company and products because organic and environmentally conscious products celebrate diversity, imperfection, uniqueness etc.’
Pallrand emphasises the fact that organic does not mean a uniform, homogenous product - organic ingredients are often different from batch to batch, year to year: ’Our designs look earthy, imperfect and hip, which is what the organic movement is all about. Organic product has to be packaged to convey this so that people do not misunderstand your intentions and goals.
The company’s focus is on using organically grown ingredients, carefully cultivated on family-run organic farms and educating people on the evils of pesticides and corporate greed.
4mula is a Philadelphia-based cosmetics company which puts the environment at the heart of its activities. The range is the work of the artist Timothy Bahash and horticulturist Eric. The skincare products are ultra-natural, vegan and cruelty free, and the packaging is recyclable.
They aim to reduce post-consumer waste through encouraging their modern and utilitarian bottles to be re-used. A gallery on 4mula’s website is devoted to pictures of the bottles being used in new ways - customers are encouraged to send in their original ideas.
The rectangular shape of the bottles mean they can hold 33% more product per square-inch than cylinders, and the soaps have legs that reduce bar-to-dish contact, which means the soap lasts longer.
They also vow to employ people before machines - and a local workforce at that - and put workers’ rights before profits. Just another feel good factor attached to the creamy lather of 4mula soap.
Here’s proof there’s nothing new about the beauty business taking the environment seriously. Living Nature, a New Zealand skincare company, has been going since 1987. Its longevity has meant that its eco mission, quality levels and packaging design, have had time to be honed, making it one of the more sophisticated all-natural lines available today.
Its main aim is to use indigenous ingredients as much as possible - for example, it employs manuka honey, manuka oil, harakeke (New Zealand flax), kelp, totara, kuymerahou and halloysite clay - many of which are harvested from the wild.
Recent developments bring the paraben-free, GM-free skincare to a male audience with a soothing shaving cream, gentle cleansing shaving gel and a selection of moisturisers.
New packaging throughout the men’s and women’s ranges is being made from a compound polypropylene and calcium carbonate (chalk) which is 100% recyclable.
The focus may be on creating a range of products which are fair to Friesians, but at the same time, the founder of No Cows, Claire Morrissey has seen fit to also show a bit of care to the planet.
As a vegan skincare line, No Cows is cruelty-free in its harvesting of ingredients and manufacturing process. But it also eschews petrochemical-based detergents and mineral oils - so all ingredients are bio-degradable. Even its candles are soy wax, towels are made from organic cotton and only individual plants suffer in the making of the hand creams, shampoos and soaps - formulas are based around vegetable and essential oils, and are composed according to the principles of aromatherapy and herbalism. Bottles are made from PET and are recyclable, and soap is wrapped in recycled paper.
There is, however, to be no compromise on design, which fits a playful aesthetic that falls short of kitsch.
Aveda has a reputation in the cosmetics world as a pioneer of eco packaging. It has put everything into developing ground-breaking systems which allow their bottles to be made from as high a proportion as possible of post-consumer recycled plastics.
What’s more, the company is willing to share its findings in order to spread their benefits across the industry. Shampoo caps contain 25% post-consumer recycled material, and in bottles and jars it has between 80-100%. This reduces their use of virgin high-density polyethylene by 300 tons annually.
The cardboard packaging of its latest launch, The Earth Month Candle, uses ’make-readies’ - these are the sheets of carton stock used to prepare the printing press and are usually thrown away. Make-readies from previous Aveda products are used in the interior construction of the candle boxes, with soy ink and 55% post-consumer recycled paper used in the design of the outer part.
Stella McCartney skincare
Stella McCartney’s 100% organic line has already had its eco-credentials challenged, inevitable perhaps when a famous name and a corporate company adopt a worthy cause.
Holes can be picked - and sure, the line does not have a totally carbon-clear conscience - but we feel there is something commendable in having persuaded an established cosmetics house (owned by the Gucci group, Stella’s fragrance and skincare line is developed by YSL Beaute) with margins to manage and, apparently, immovable procedures in place to develop a product that is 100% organic, and sold in recyclable bottles (Selfridges is operating a return and recycle scheme at the Stella counter).
The line - called Care - comprises of 8 products, including moisturising cream and fluid, with grape seed oil, white mallow extract, linseed oil, musk rose oil, green tea extract, soybean oil and sweet orange extract; a trio of elixirs, two cleansers and two toners.
Top waste management system, by Konstantin Grcic for Authentics
Trust those clever people at Authentics in Germany to understand that while you want to help the environment and recycle, messing up your interior with unsightly bins is simply not on the agenda.
Designed by Wallpaper* darling, Konstantic Grcic, ’Top’ is a complete system for the separation of plastic, glass, paper and biodegradable waste. Slender light grey plastic bins, which can stand on the floor or be affixed to the wall, come with lids that not only cover up unsightly bin bags but are available in five different colours to identify which material should be discarded in which bin.
Stool, by Alain Berteau for Montis
Packaging is not only wasteful, it is a right pain to get rid of, which is why we thought French designer Alain Berteau’s idea to re-use his packaging was particularly innovative. A cardboard box contains a hearty upholstery cover made out of Kvadrat fabric. Open the box, place the cover over the box and hey presto, you’ve got a fully functional, foxy-to-look-at stool and absolutely nothing to go in the bin.
Sculptures, by Wietse Jellema
What might appear to be street rubbish to us has a valuable vision for the Netherlandish artist Wietse Jellema, well beyond the rotting contents of the overflowing bin on the street corner. He uses for his scupltures old materials that haven’t yet made it to the recycling bin, trawling the streets to find his inspiration.
Speaking of his unlikely materials Jellema explains, ’The questions I ask myself are when does something stop having a use? How can I bring objects back to their essential parts?’ By making small changes to the plastic, wood and cardboard he finds, Jellema creates sculptures with a charming simplicity and a depth of significance beyond their humble forms and origins. More reinvention than reclamation, his work brings a whole new meaning to ’objects trouvee’ and is certainly a long way from rubbish.
Armless double bench, by Loll
Loll prides itself to create affordable and stylish designs, where ’even the colour black is green’. The USA-based company is a classic in creating in-house garden furniture which incorporates environmental concerns. The all-weather furniture is produced by manufacturing recycled skatepark material and food preparation cutting surfaces. Adding to that, their 100-colour palette is made from 100% post consumer recycled material, and only 100% post-industrial recycled black color is used; a percentage of this actually coming from reclaimed components.
Such an introduction was impossible to ignore and this armless double bench proves that making an ecological statement can be done while maintaining a high style and design quality. The bench is part of Loll’s Armless outdoor furniture collection, officially launched in 2006. The series also includes a single armless chair, and Loll is aiming to develop the line more over the following months.
Fabrics, by Studio 450
When it came to setting up her own print and design studio in Mexico City after years of working in the commercial textile industry, the designer Liza Niles made it a point to go green.
Instead of buying new fabric, she uses fabric surpluses from factories nearby, working with water-based inks to create vibrantly coloured material for private commissions and her home furnishing collection.
What we admire most is that Niles goes beyond the call of duty as a designer, offering sustainable options to the artisan communities in South America. In ’khadi’ (traditional flocked printing) workshops in India, she encouraged craftsmen to substitute the more expensive velvet dust for silk dust which could be obtained at local sari manufacturers. She also suggested using deflated basketballs instead of Styrofoam moulds to Ecuadorian locals weaving palm fibre lampshades, because they lasted longer and were recyclable.
Transglass tableware, by Tord Bootje and Emma Woffenden
Transglass, the new tableware line by Emma Woffenden and Tord Boontje, is a sure bet for a future design classic, as since its launch it has become one of Artecnica’s best-selling items. Not only does it look fabulous, but also expresses a positive attitude towards the environment. The whole collection comes from recycled wine and beer bottles. The old glass is collected, cleaned and re-cut to create clean-lined tumblers, vases and carafes, even keeping the original glass colour.
A Guatemalan artisan group is behind the manufacturing and original craftsmanship, incorporating the company’s environmental and ethical concerns into its sophisticated design standards. The collection, launched in August 2006, is already in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art, and each item is a unique, one-of-a-kind piece.
Tide, by Stuart Haygarth
The idea of using discarded items to create new objects may not be a new one, but few do it as beautifully as Stuart Haygarth. 1,000 used party poppers collected after celebrating New Year were turned into the Millennium chandelier which launched his career. Different coloured glassware found in flea markets, car boot sales and junk shops were turned into light boxes and bought up by the Comme De Garcons store in London, while his latest piece was made from man-made debris washed up on the Kent coastline in 2004.
Alder Rounds collection, by Brent Comber
Sustainably sourced wood is an eco-friendly material to use in design and architecture - the true challenge lies to the designer’s skill and inspiration to use it.
Vancouver-based Brent Comber is one of those designers who works with wood in a truly innovative way, creating great environmentally sustainable furniture, which are beautiful to look at. The wood used is either reclaimed or recycled (like wood chips), all natural and from local and low grade sources. The use of alders to create furniture makes minimal impact to the environment, especially since design is followed by sustainable practices throughout the manufacturing process.
The Alder Rounds collection, launched in 2005, comprises three sizes of clear-finished cylindrical pieces which can be easily adjusted to suit equally seating and tables; and on top of that, custom sizes are easily achieved, to suit every need.
’Néo Noé’, by Philippe Riehling for Patrick Brézé
At the Maison et Objet furniture fair this year in Paris there was a show entitled Eco Design. Sixteen designers submitted pieces of furniture that ‘respected the environment’ proving beyond doubt that design can have an impact on us, without impacting on the world around us.
Designed by Philippe Riehling for Patrick Brézé, the ‘Néo Noé’ chair is such a piece. Elegantly carved out of beech wood, the piece uses natural varnish and glue which produces no dangerous emissions. The wood comes from no further than 100km away from the studio and when the piece is transported to shops it is always done so with other pieces.
Sugar lamp, by Godoylab
Eco-orientated Mexican designer, Emiliano Godoy, has been arguing for the use of nature as both a source and destination for product design since his college days. Undoubtedly, sustainable forests and recyclable materials are the first thing that springs to mind in such a debate; however Godoy has a rather different, more playful material of choice.
The designer used sugar for his Sweet Disposable series, which includes - apart from a Golf Tee, a coat hanger and a 100% biodegradable candle - this beautiful lamp, made from eight identical sugar wedges. Godoy researches sustainability and biodegradable design, and sugar is a perfect, short-term, environmentally friendly and easy to work with material to experiment with; the geometric lamp has a natural lifespan, in full accord to the actual material’s longevity.
Lumi, by Full Tank
It may not be enough to help those poor, scorched golf courses across the UK and other areas of Europe which were at the mercy of the hose-pipe ban last summer, but it will go some way to keeping the precious blooms in your garden happy.
Short of building an entire reservoir in your back yard, Lumi acts as not only an innovative solution to storing water but due to an inspired lighting system acts as beautiful outdoor sculpture, actually becoming brighter the more full it is.
’Tambona Hamaca’ chair, by Em2 Design
We were instantly smitten with the handsome Latino looks of this lounge chair which not only uses certified local materials (Tauari wood and ecru leather threads) but uses local craftsmen to weave the seat from the age-old macramé technique.
Designed by Mariana Betting Ferrarezi and Roberto Hercowitz, of Em2 Design, the piece is inspired by Brazil’s cultural heritage and is a fine example that you can create a slick, modern piece of furniture without turning to new waste-emitting materials and techniques.
Twisted Cabinet, by Thomas Heatherwick for Benchmark
Established more than 20 years ago, Benchmark is a much-loved Wallpaper* option due to its furniture design quality and style with full certifications and a commitment to using only sustainably sourced timber, it is one of the greenest woodworkers around.
One of their finest examples, following their main sustainability policy, the Twisted Cabinet is part of the company’s collection by architecture and design’s enfant terrible, London-based Thomas Heatherwick. The cabinet, made from clear lacquered solid Oak, has a characteristic, strong and elegant geometrical shape, making the manufacturers proud not only of their pure eco-sensitivity, but also for their high technological standards and refined sense of style.
Bambu collection, by Henrik Tjaerby for Artek
Surely, there is no need for a big introduction for Artek, as the Finnish all-time classic design studio is a frequent Wallpaper* guest. Launched in this year’s Stockholm fair, Artek Studio’s Bambu collection underlines the issues of sustainability and humanism since its very foundation in 1935 by Alvar Aalto.
Designed by Henrik Tjaerby, the collection - a chair, dining table and coffee table - has a natural caramelized color and is made out of bent laminated bamboo. Bamboo, a known eco-friendly material option, is incredibly fast growing, making it the ideal designer alternative. Created in true Artek style and technology, the collection reflects the company’s ideology towards ecology and ethics and aims to highlight their critical role in contemporary and future production.
Botanical Bark vase and Enchanted Forest candleholders, by Michael Aram
Taking its inspiration from the natural world, and specifically forest forms and textures, the Forest Leaf is only one of the many nature-inspired collections by New-York based designer Michael Aram. Included is Aram’s playful redefining of the idea of a vase and a candleholder, skillfully capturing the bark’s delicacy and detailing. We particularly admire the aluminium material option for its environmentally friendly attitude.
The products are made completely out of polished recycled aluminium, inspired by white birch or cherry bark in the case of the vases, and of a pair of trees – one taller and one shorter – in the case of the candleholders. The vase comes in three sizes.
This Side Up stool, by David Graas
Since launching to great praise in 2005, David Graas’ ‘This Side Up’ cardboard stool design has been a big hit in both design and environmental circles. Indeed, the Dutch product designer’s decision to use a renewable /recyclable material to create furniture for everyday life has generated praise and inspiration – Graas has also designed a striking cardboard chair.
The two-in-one design means that the stools can be used as a single unit or they can be pulled apart to reveal two separate structures, further enhancing the product’s multi-functionality and increasing its relevance in a world where eco-friendly goes hand in hand with a product’s interchangeability.
Atlas lamp, by Bomdesign
Michael Bom and Antoinet Deurloo are not new to the concept of using recycled material to create great designs. All of their products are designed and handmade and are created out of re-used material. A perfect example that immediately caught our eye is one of their latest lamps, the Atlas Lamp launched in 2006.
The lamp is in fact, as the name suggests, made from a reclaimed old atlas book, reworked to shape a magnificent, colourful and diverse lamp, available directly from Bomdesign Studio or from Rotterdam-based Studio Hergebriuk. Of course the size of the end product varies, depending on the actual book – so do not throw away your old, worn out atlas, Bomdesign can guarantee a new life for it. Is there a better option to light our days when resting from our travelling? We don’t think so.
Qbert vase, by Andi Kovel for Esque
Flower picking may be a bit controversial in regards to eco-friendliness, but in case you have to go that way and get a bunch of souvenirs from your day in the countryside, there is a lovely set of vases by USA-based Esque glassworks studio, which will give them a perfect new home in your living room.
Andi Kovel, Esque’s famous glass artist, created a vase design which has already become classic in the company’s history. The Qbert vase comes in either extra light blue or purple/ivory, made from hand-blown recycled glass, and on top of that, the whole process is powered by alternative, wind energy. The vase is a true representative of Kovel’s work, both through its artistic sculptural form and by its undisputed environmentally friendly side, which reflects Esque’s whole ecological ethic.
Hex-Table, by the Wilson Brothers
Design is a family business for the Wilsons; Brothers Ben and Oscar Wilson have been working together in several projects and their latest work includes the hex-table. The new low occasional table was designed for the streetware fashion label Stussy and comes in an easily assembled, folding-and-clipping flat pack of two identical cut components.
Ben’s 3D design and Oscar’s graphics have been combined artfully to create a strong geometric piece, which not only weighs just 1.2 kg but is also made out of Beeboard; a 100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard option. The product will be available to buy later this year, with plain and graphic-decorated options to pick from.
100% organic bamboo, by Bambu
Bamboo may be accepted as a material for the furniture on the porch of your luxury lodge in Indonesia but that is about as far as we want to integrate it into our lives – until now that is. Naturally stain resistant, available in a series of rich, warm tones and equipped with a tensile strength superior than some grades of steel, this humble plant is starting to widen its appeal. That, and the fact it grows incredibly fast making it the ideal alternative to timber and petroleum products.
Bambu’s utensils are made from 100% organic bamboo and with their original shapes and soft, satiny finish they look great in the kitchen.
’Piasa’ room divider, by Emiliano Godoy
Emiliano Godoy is determined that good design can only be good if it does not harm the environment. An industrial design graduate from Pratt University in New York, Godoy currently resides in his native Mexico City where he runs his own studio as well as teaches sustainable design at two undergraduate industrial design programs.
His ‘Piasa’ room divider is part of a larger sewn wood collection and uses only sustainable wood. Made from any length the divider can be shipped folded, therefore minimizing the packaging size.
Birdhouse, by Godoy Lab
There wouldn’t be much point in us going on about the future of eco-friendly products if we didn’t consider one of its most important factors – education. Taking the lead is industrial designer Emiliano Godoy who teaches sustainable design at two of Mexico City’s technological institutes with his wealth of experience in environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable design. An established eco-designer in his own right, it’s his continual interest in moulding the minds of young ‘uns that has caught our attention. This adorable birdhouse, made out of cork was created by Brenda Osorio, a student who enrolled in the ‘Sustainability and Design’ course Godoy teaches at the Tecnologico de Monterrey. With talent like that, we feel assured that the future of design is not only sustainable, but bright.
Legend shelves, by Christoph Delcourt for Roche-Bobois
The Legend, designed exclusively by the young French designer, Christophe Delcourt, is not only the beginning of a new collection for Roche-Bobois; it is an introduction to a whole new attitude and ongoing program for the company, which aims to bring all collections up to sustainability-orientated standards.
The Legend Bookcase is included in the first designs for the collection, clearly inspired by the organic growth patterns of the natural world. The natural finish Oak bookcase is sourced from sustainable managed French forests and its production is completely chemical free. The whole collection aims to express the way the company feels about the impact the ecological challenges have in the design world and the modern house furniture. The collection will be available in the UK from mid-September.
Perch! by Amy Adams
While handmade objects often come with crafty, irregular proportion-type connotations, Amy Adams’ ceramic line Perch! is anything but. We never would have guessed that the pure, sleek forms that make up Adams’ collection of home objects and lighting were each made personally by her own hand in a little Brooklyn studio.
Often drawing inspiration from birds and nature, Adams’ designs adapt familiar avian shapes into sophisticated home embellishments, like egg-like bowls and bird bath shaped carafes that both display a clarity of line. Using all-natural clay and a low-fire glazing process, every step in Perch’s production isn’t just non-toxic, but low-impact as well, since Adams is quick to recycle any scrap materials around her.
We’ve already cleared room on our mantles for the fat Kiki vase and the stout Mason jar, available in a modern light grey and charming lemon yellow.
Blankets, by Blankettmann
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. When Amanda Mann discovered bags of old cashmere sweaters that her mother was ready to throw away, she decided it was a waste to let them go that easily. Mann took the salvaged jumpers and had them made into cosy, patchwork style wraps and blankets, an idea she has turned into a successful business by rescuing out of shape (or out of fashion) cashmere items at jumble sales and charity shops, giving well-worn items a second life.
Arranged and matched by colour, the backs, fronts and even the sleeves of each jumper are pieced together to form blankets in three different sizes. All the blankets are stitched up within a five mile radius of her home, so there is hardly a carbon footprint left behind after they have been produced.
Seatbelt cosmetic bag, by Ecocentric
The shamefully popular practice of assembling accessories from redundant packaging, such as tin cans, sweet wrappers, old posters and tyres has given a bad name to recycled design. But we do have time for old car seatbelts. When reworked into a continuous stretch of fabric they have been proven to make quite desirable furnishings and bags. They make particularly respectable wash bags when reassigned, since the material is solid, wipeable and pretty watertight.
This one is made by a respected London-based designer, whose focus is making bags of a high standard of design from recycled goods. The seatbelts come from end-of-the-line product in discontinued colours or finishes, produced in UK factories.
It is part of a collection of items designed with the environment in mind for Ecocentric, a British company which focuses on high-end local eco-design.
Haute Green Exhibition
Intent on proving that good design can be ecological, Haute Green is an exhibition that showcases the best of sustainable contemporary home design. Founded a year ago by the eco-designer, Bart Bettencourt and design publicist Kimberly Oliver, the show not only features the work of emerging and established green designers from around the world, but also generates awareness for environment-friendly design approaches and manufacture processes.
Last year, we were wowed by Daniel Michalik’s chaise made entirely out of recyclable cork, a rug made out of scrap fabric from fashion label Boudicca and this grid wall decoration made from wood offcuts by Matt Gagnon. Running alongside the ICFF this year, we are confident that green design can hold its own together with the best of the rest.
Rocks ice bucket and glasses, by Andi Kovel for Esque
With our quest in finding our perfect eco-friendly alcoholic drink for our parties well underway (check out the Square One Organic Vodka in the Food & Drink section), we needed the appropriate, equally environmentally conscious barware to complement it. USA-based Esque Studio, leaders in recycled glass works, proved to be the ideal choice to cover our needs with glass expert Andi Kovel’s beautiful Rocks ice bucket and glasses. The set comprises an ice bucket and four glasses, half clear glass, half white-smoked. The glass, blown in an organic, soft, curvy shape, comes from recycled stock and is processed in an electric furnace which is powered by wind energy, making it one of the most ecologically friendly options of its kind in the market.
Coffee and side tables, by Stephen Burks from Artecnica
Next time you kick back in the garden, revel in the fact that you’re doing good – well at least if you are lounging on the new ‘Tatu’ collection from Artecnica you are. Designed by New York designer Stephen Burks, the range is created in collaboration with a wire weaver from one of Cape Town’s poorest townships.
Made out of steel wire, the tables break down into a basket, bowl and tray making them not only good looking and functional but help create a sustainable source of income for a struggling community.
Saturnus lamp, by Bomdesign
The use of vinyl today is somewhat of a rarity – unless that is, you are a vintage record collector, a retro-enthusiast or, in fact Dutch design duo Michael Bom and Antoinet Deurloo. The partners are committed to environmentally friendly design regularly using re-cycled material, following the general philosophy of working only with what they can find ready-made in their environment. The Saturnus lamp is one of their latest works, launched in early 2007, and it is made completely out of old records. So if you are in doubt about what to do with your old record collection, just get in touch with Atelier Bomdesign and they will create for you a custom-made stylish design lamp out of them.
Most participants in the organic revolution are presented with a peaceful, almost Zen-like sense of calm, but Danish brand, Kuyichi, is sporty, colourful and packs an energetic punch.
Using the Peruvian rainbow god as a namesake, the label is dedicated to fair trade and encourages its producers like Oco Blanco (an association for Peruvian cotton farmers) to become shareholders in the company. By sharing the burden and the accompanying wealth, Kuyichi has created sporty clothing with a social consciousness.
While the slouchy tank tops and hoodies and soft, loose denim instantly bring the carefree attitude of youth to mind, it’s the deeper knowledge that the clothing was made in support of emerging economies which makes it inherently cool.
There is only one thing which could possibly come between our eco-conscious jumpers and jeans: organic underwear, naturally.
British label Ciel’s lingerie line is charmingly vintage-inspired and made out of super-soft American and Peruvian organic cotton. With Irish lace adorning the edges of thin-strapped camisoles and hipster knickers, the range is feminine without going over the top.
And if you are looking for the cherry on top, 3% of all Ciel’s profits are also donated to green charities to offset the carbon footprint.
While most eco-minded designers might immediately turn to organic fabrics to create an environmentally conscious collection, Pete Bunnawut Pongsak’s idea of saving our environment is a little more conceptual.
The Royal College of Art student has designed a capsule collection of menswear which can each be worn in multiple ways. Not only are there hidden details on the inside of this reversible leather and velour jacket, Pongsak has also added a detachable trench-coat style collar, magnets which alter the length of the coat flaps and zips which adjust the volume of the coat’s silhouette. Many of the grey and navy knits in the collection also boast similar features.
And because you’re more likely to wear each piece longer, they’ll also stay in your closet longer before being sent to the charity shop.
Dale Sko Hack
In a three-day workshop held at a local shoe factory in Norway, six of the country’s most promising designers sought to redefine factory production by creating new designs, while using existing materials and machinery. The team, which included Siv Støldal and Arne & Carlos, were encouraged to mix-up linear production processes by adapting existing shoe models or using moulds and tools already in situ.
The result: sleek, white and black brogues, and industrial plastic lace-ups in bright red, which not only proves that sustainable garment production is possible, it can be pretty creative too.
The humble hemp plant has had a glamorous image overhaul. American women’s label, Viridis Luxe, has taken it from dirty and dreadlocked, blended it with silk and cashmere to create a luxuriously, soft fabric that is free of pesticides because of hemp’s natural anti-microbial character.
Grown and manufactured in China due to US government regulations for hemp cultivation, the label’s finely knit tunics, oversized cardigans and jumpers are already favourites of Scarlett Johansson and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Men’s, baby and home ranges to come soon.
Giorgio Armani certainly doesn’t take his eco lightly, and became one of the first luxury labels to take an environmentally- conscious stand when it came to setting up his youthful Armani Jeans line. Since 1995, Armani Jeans’ production processes have borne the European Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certificate, guaranteeing that harmful chemical by-products have been removed during the garments’ production.
From recycling denim, making men’s and women’s hemp separates and developing new techno-fabrics, such as polyester obtained from recycling plastic bottles, Armani Jeans has consistently proved its ecological commitment.
And with its eco portfolio expanding to include fair trade alliances with countries such as Peru and Bolivia, Armani assures us that it is possible to buy one of our favourite labels completely guilt-free.
Katharine E Hamnett
Katharine Hamnett is the original enfant terrible of British eco fashion. Since abandoning mainstream fashion in 2004, she has re-defined ethical fashion production by securing a completely ecological supply of resources, from finding organic cotton producers to mining fair trade gold.
Apart from the re-issue of her iconic political t-shirts from 1983, printed with phrases like ‘Clean Up or Die’ and ‘Choose Life,’ Hamnett has created a jewellery collection using ethically mined gold and certified Canadian diamonds – not only is land reforested after mining, 5% of the gold’s value is reinvested into the community of its origin. Finally, an excuse to buy jewellery.
Shirts, by Herr Von Eden
While most labels show their support for the environment by producing a smorgasbord of organic cotton basics, Herr von Eden has embraced the second environmental ‘R’ (re-use) in launching a limited-edition collection of formal shirts made from vintage fabrics.
Despite the design collective finding entire bales that date back as far as the 1940s, the fabric is limited in quantity, including this finely woven pink dobby striped cotton, making each shirt even more precious. From the neat collars and scalloped cuffs to a discreetly embroidered ‘HE’ monogram on each garment, the shirts perfectly embody the label’s classical, yet tongue-in-cheek ethos.
Jewellery, by Tom Binns
Instead of seashells and starfish, the jewellery designer, Tom Binns, keeps his eye out for washed-up bottles or pieces of broken glass on a beach. Rather than popping the items straight into the recycling bins, Binns has effortlessly incorporated them into the creation of his latest collection of necklaces and earrings.
Shards of coloured glass have been shaped into unique pendants and then strung together with languid strands of diamonds and pearls. And since the pendants are the focus of each piece, we love that the value of the materials used are kept indistinguishable.
A jewellery collection that is ecological, yet entirely precious. Now that is a combination that does not come around very often. Available at Paul Smith boutiques.
It is no surprise that Mrs Bono, Ali Hewson, is as equally involved in making trade fair as her political activist-rock star husband. The couple’s clothing label, Edun, a collaboration with Rogan and Loomstate founder, Rogan Gregory, makes all the edgy, rock‘n’roll-style essentials we could wish for, and at a socially conscious cost too.
Founded on the idea to develop trade in impoverished countries instead of simply providing aid, Edun’s products are made in locally run factories around Africa, South America and India, with each facility having been vetted for its business and ethical stability.
Hewson points out that gaining a mere additional 1% share of global trade would allow Africa to ‘earn $70 billion dollars more in exports each year, more than three times what they are receiving in international assistance.’ Another good reason for us to re-stock our wardrobe, as if we need one.
Since its formation in 1998, American Apparel has flown the flag high for socially conscious garment production. Its products are proudly declared ‘sweatshop-free’ as the company not only pays its factory workers one of the highest wages in the garment industry, but also offers them attractive benefits like paid time off, affordable healthcare, subsidised meals and transport, and even on-site massage services. It manages to recycle over £4m of scrap fabric a year.
The ‘Sustainable Edition’ range offers some of its most popular men’s, women’s and baby styles of t-shirts and tank tops in 100% organic cotton. There’s even a finely ribbed knit t-shirt which will fit the family dog.
Bamford & Sons
Displaying the same refined quality and modern styling of the main line, Bamford & Sons has launched an organic collection which will be a sure favourite of the socially (fashion) conscious.
The earthy menswear range is casual luxury at its best, with muslin shirts, canvas trousers and an intricately tweeded jacket in tan, cream and white since none of the fabrics have been dyed. We are particularly besotted by the ecological leather jackets, belts and sandals which have been tanned with vegetable dye not chemicals, yet are just as investment-worthy and buttery soft as the original. If you are one to wear your eco-heart on your sleeve, there is a loosely knitted hemp rucksack which looks rustically fabulous.
Suit, by Ermenegildo Zegna
Conserving water may not have been the first thought behind Ermenegildo Zegna’s stain-resistant suit, but it is certainly a lauded effect. Taking inspiration from the way the smooth leaves of the lotus flower stay dry, wool fibres are specially spun to create a fabric which feels as soft as the regular wool suits, but with the ability to resist creasing, wrinkling, and soiling.
Be it champagne or rainwater, simple messes are removed with the wipe of cloth, which means water and energy are saved since the garment is laundered less often – and dry cleaning is made completely redundant.
T-shirt, by Droog
When bold avant-garde Dutch collective Droog Design launched an open competition for every designer to send an idea for a short sleeve cotton t-shirt, more than 350 people responded with a proposal. Among these, USA-based Arlene Birt’s design suggestion stands out of the bunch, not only for the honourable mention it earned for the design’s innovation and graphics, but also for its eco-conscious approach, which urges everyone to recycle cotton.
The limited edition t-shirt with the logo ‘A t-shirt should tell its own story’ does exactly what its name suggests; it integrates labels and illustrations explaining its life cycle, from cotton pickers to factory, shipping, manufacture, sale, use, given to Oxfam and recycled, and the story continues...
Biodegradable plates, cups and utensils, by Branch
Avoiding the washing-up may save on water but throwing away all that plastic tableware turns your black sacks into ecological time bombs.
As an alternative, online retailer for sustainable living, Branch is selling utensils made from potato starch and vegetable oil and plates and cups made from biodegradable sugar cane fibre, which can be easily composted or recycled for the making of paper. Sugar cane fibre or bagasse is a by-product of the sugar refining process that usually gets burnt for disposal, so turning it into tableware instead also prevents harmful air pollution.
The triumph of this range is that it perfectly imitates traditional plastic tableware right down to the nostalgia-inducing compartmentalised plate which will take you right back to your school dinner days.
100% Organic Tea, by The London Tea Company
Coming across a reference book on Japan in his own home was all it took to inspire The London Tea Company founder to create the environmentally friendly packaging he uses for his organic teas. Dinuk Dissanayake was struck by the idea of using origami techniques in the construction of the boxes.
The result: no glue, cellophane wrapping or sachets are necessary. Only recyclable paper boxes printed with vibrant, eye-catching silhouettes and the signature London Tea Company logo, adding a touch of colour to an eco kitchen.
Dissanyake, a member of a generation of tea estate owners in Sri Lanka, has developed three ranges of organic tea; Classic, Gourmet and Youthful, which benefits from being utterly caffeine-free. The tea comes in biodegradable pouches which have been oxygen cleansed rather than bleached, without strings, tags, staples or envelopes making for an almost waste-free cuppa.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, by Nudo
The olive grove in the foothills of the Apennines, from where Nudo’s olive oil is made, is completely organic hence its name. Olive oil is already a pure product, with not much more to it than extracting oil from crushed olives.
Even though they are a carbon positive company, setting aside an area of the large plot of land for forest and donating part of their profit to tree planting schemes in the UK, the main focus of Nudo is their tree adoption scheme. The idea is to form a sort of farming co-operative, which sustains good-farming practices in areas where it is at risk of decline.
The aim is also to bring the producer and the consumer closer together, so close in fact that you can come and visit, water, or hug the tree that produces the oil you use.
Ground Coffee, by Metropolis Coffee Company
Increasing disenchantment with the chain coffee houses opens up an opportunity for smaller brands to show everyone how it should be done. Chicago’s Metropolis Coffee Company on West Granville Avenue is creating a buzz about the quality of not only their coffee, but also their commitment towards promoting sustainable farming methods.
Not content simply with satisfying their roasters, baristas and customers, Jeff and Tony Dreyfuss work with the coffee growers to help improve the quality of their produce as well as teaching them guidelines for organic farming that will ultimately lead to higher coffee prices and a more sustainable way of life for farmers.
What we see, however, is a great neighbourhood coffee shop, brewing up seasonal blends, which have been hand-roasted to obsessive perfection. Of course, you can also take it away to brew at home, and the brilliant packaging of their takeaway beans is what first caught our eye.
Frank Water, by The Better Food Company
Our biggest accessory for healthy living is in fact not doing the environment any favours. The trend to carry the latest bottled waters around in designer handbags is now being put to the eco test.
Frank water not only has a logo to satisfy the most design-hungry consumers but is also sold in either high-quality PET plastic or recycled glass bottles. To minimize the carbon debt, which usually grows when water is transported from remote areas to be bottled and sold elsewhere, Frank is supplied by a local spring in Bristol, England. Currently, this limits the distribution of Frank water to the UK but the plan is to expand the idea for sale worldwide.
As a not-for-profit company, the money raised by selling its bottled water is used to fund clean, safe water for countries where contaminated water is a big problem.
Chocolate Bonbons, by Cocoa Vino
The biggest eco-indulgence of our shortlist is the product of two graduates from the French Culinary Institute in New York. Alisha Lumea and Avril Pendergast-Fischer founded Cocoa Vino with the idea that the most delicious food is made from sustainable, regional and organic ingredients.
With their combined diplomas in pastry arts and the fundamentals of wine, they have used their expertise to create delicious chocolate as well as a regular range of limited edition bonbons, which will tickle your taste buds if you take out a monthly tasting subscription. The delectable bonbons in their perfect little boxes are not only supporting small-scale farms and organic produce but Cocoa Vino also try to reduce their carbon footprint by using wind-generated energy in their offices and kitchen (cleaned with eco-friendly products).Online orders are packed in biodegradable packing ‘peanuts’ made from cornstarch and shipped in boxes made from 100% recycled materials.
Nepurée Juice, by Jus De Coeur
This juice bar in the Echika Omotesando shopping area of Tokyo is leading Japan’s latest waste-reducing and health food trend. Sold in a variety of blends at the little bar just inside the Metro station, Nepurée is made from rejected fruit and vegetables which cannot be sold and usually gets thrown away for not living up to consumer aesthetic demands.
The nutritional value of the juice is undamaged at cellular level as the pureeing process does not involve any cutting instruments, and by being subjected to intense heat, the sweetness that is naturally contained in the fruit and vegetables is brought out.
Jus de Coeur’s puree smoothies are given names like ‘Skin Care’ and ‘Vitamin Charge’. Do not be surprised if you find an unexpected pineapple core mixed in as no waste really means no waste.
Organic Vodka, by Square One
We are impressed by the organic ingredients in Square One that are pure enough to render multiple distillations unnecessary. We also love the fact that the rye-byproduct is packed with good protein and fibre that it is sold on as feed to an organic dairy farm.
But what really pushes our eco-friendly buttons is the stylish bottle with a design which is equally concerned with sustainability. The square bottle, created as a custom mould by San Francisco firm, Michael Osborne Design, has not been frosted (a process that requires damaging chemicals) and the labels, printed on paper made from the renewable fibre sources, bamboo, bagasse and cotton, peel off easily, leaving behind a contemporary glass receptacle which can be re-used as a vase or a decanter.
Fish 4 Ever, by Organico
Maintaining ecosystems often gets overlooked on the things-to-do list in our attempts to reduce our footprint. But the move towards sustainable fishing is gathering momentum. Organico’s Fish 4 Ever range of tinned tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies is setting the example with methods which strive to maintain the marine environment.
Packaged in all shades of blue, the concept of Fish 4 Ever is stated clearly. Sustainable fishing means avoiding employing intensive factory ships by sending out mostly community boats which do not use drag nets or industrial lines, and that go out at night and come back in the morning. No fishing takes place during the breeding seasons and there is no damage to the ocean floors or other species.
Bio-Bubble wrap, by Advance Excelsior
You can now give in to your bubble wrap-bursting urges without feeling guilty or facing a barrage of accusations about endangering the planet. Advance Excelsior’s revolutionary Bio-Bubble is a non-toxic biodegradable version of bubble wrap which has an environmentally-friendly shelf-life of one year after which the product’s decomposition process essentially breaks plastic down into water, carbon dioxide, and trace biomass; and all that is necessary for this earth-friendly process to begin is exposure to oxygen and light.
Advance Excelsior was founded in 1949 in the age of shredded newsprint and wood packaging and has since gone on to trade in all forms of packaging including polystyrene loose fill, but it is with their Bio-Bubble that the company has really branched out, essentially leading the way for the industry to be more eco-aware.
Pots, by Eco Form
Eco Form pots are the brainchild of Sweetwater Nursery, which was founded in 1977 to bring organic gardening to America’s West Coast. The pots are a sustainable option for gardeners who are looking for a greener way to house their plants. Made from the by-products of renewable grain husk crops and natural binding agents, the non-environmentally threatening ingredients which go into the manufacturing process means the pots pose no harm to the environment, do not deplete the planet’s natural resources (unlike plastic) and are the perfect product for the eco-gardener.
Furthermore the pots’ insulating properties assist plant performance while the elegant designs mean that Eco Forms fits perfectly into any home. The pots are designed to have full functionality for five years, after which the decomposition process only begins once the pot has been discarded to a landfill facility where the by-products of decomposition are nutrient rich.
Biodegradable packaging boxes, by Po-Zu
Po-Zu’s biodegradable coconut box was nominated for best packaging at 2006’s Green Awards. The company takes a highly ethical approach to design and has pushed the packaging for their successful ‘natural slippers’ to a new and more ethically developed level: the box is made from coconut fibres and doubles up as a seed-tray which is fully biodegradable once placed in the soil.
’Jar tops’, by Jorre Van Ast
The Dutch-born, London-based industrial designer, Jorre Van Ast, has become the darling of the eco-packaging world with his innovative ‘jar tops’. The Royal College of Art-trained designer is already recognised for his creative designs – along with Tomek Rygalik, Van Ast won 2006’s Bombay Sapphire Designer Glass competition for their striking inverted Martini cocktail glass; and his celebrated ‘Clampology’ system, which won the prize for best overall entry at Interieur ’06.
Van Ast’s highly imaginative eye has allowed him to come up with this functionally creative way to address issues of eco-awareness and recycling. The ‘jar tops’, which screw on to the top of glass jars enabling the user to re-use them, come in a variety of guises including: chocolate sprinklers, water jugs, sugar pots, milk cans, oil and vinegar set, and spice cellars.
Hybrid Bike, by ENV
Looking like the offspring of a motocross bike and a Raleigh Chopper, the ENV’s claim to fame is that it is the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell powered motorbike. With bodywork designed by industrial designers and motorcycle aficionados Seymourpowell, the ENV has at least been honed by a team who know how to get the most from two wheels – the design consultancy’s other clients include BMW, Ford and Lufthansa.
The ENV (‘Emissions Neutral Vehicle’) rides high like a trail bike and whips along silently at speeds of up to 50mph. Parent company Intelligent Energy have a vision of home-based hydrogen generation. Using a compact hydrogen generator (the company has two in the works) and a fuel-cell-powered combined heat and power unit, Intelligent Energy foresees a time when domestic users will have more control over their energy needs: fill up your ENV, heat your home or run your computer.
Hydrogen 7-Series, by BMW
BMW are perhaps second to Honda in the alternative fuel stakes and although the company will eventually bring out a range of ‘mild’ hybrids, Munich’s engineering maestros believe firmly in a hydrogen future.
The Hydrogen 7 is an adapted 12-cylinder 7-Series saloon, with a tank for storing liquid hydrogen and the ability to switch seamlessly between conventional petrol and zero-emission hydrogen running. Production will be limited, at least for now; BMW are hoping the car will prove a hit with eco-conscious CEOs.
BMW’s CleanEnergy strategy is exactly that, aiming for a future when the only thing seeping from exhaust pipes is water vapour. The road ahead will be anything but straightforward, however, with the small matter of the lack of any hydrogen infrastructure and the need for a more energy-efficient way of extracting the hydrogen in the first place.
Hybrid Refuse Truck, by Oshkosh
Oshkosh is one of the key suppliers of trucks and heavy vehicles to the US military. The Wisconsin-based company developed its ProPulse Hybrid power system for army use, a simple way of making an 8-wheel truck more stealthy and efficient.
The recent announcement of the Hybrid Refuse Truck may not quicken your pulse, but might help contribute to a few more minutes of restful sleep in the morning. Up to 50% more efficient than conventionally-powered equivalents, the world of heavy trucks just took a small step towards a reduced carbon footprint.
SkySail, by SkySails
The age of steam pretty much took the wind out of sailing for good; as global trade routes expanded, sail proved too labour intensive, not to mention unpredictable. But recent reports suggest that emissions from global shipping generate twice as much C02 than the aviation industry; a cruel blow for a mode of transport most people consider to be relatively efficient. These levels are expected to rise as manufacturing centres only increase our reliance on the shipping container.
Faced with these facts, the German company SkySails is trying to wind the clock back. A SkySail, with a parachute derived sail attached to the bow, pulls the boat through the water, reducing the load on the engines and slashing fuel consumption. In perfect conditions, the company expects a 50% saving, with an average reduction of between 10 to 35%.
Abri-Vélo Bicycle Shelter, by Xavier Lust
Many city centres are bereft of places to stash your trusty bicycle, making them easy targets for the more light-fingered among us. Surely a beloved Kronan or Abici deserves a little better?
Designer Xavier Lust is not a regular cyclist - ‘although sometimes it’s nice to take time and ride a bike’ - but he does care passionately about the built environment. His steel Abri-Vélo shelter is a simple piece of urban furniture, constructed from specially formed sheets of steel, notched to support several bikes and curved over to form a neat little roof.
As Lust explains, steel is cheaper and heavier than aluminium, a definite advantage when it comes to making street-tough structures and a way of ensuring the public gets more for its money. The shape creates the structure too, making this an especially economic piece of construction.
Eliica, by Hiroshi Shimizu
Is there a market for an 8-wheeled all-electric limousine with a top speed well in excess of 200mph? Japanese researchers clearly think so, which is why their zero-emission concept limousine looks like nothing else on the road.
The Eliica (Electric Lithium-Ion battery Car) was developed at Tokyo’s Keio University by a team of engineers led by Professor Hiroshi Shimizu. By using eight individual electric motors - one for each wheel - the car has impressive traction and incredible acceleration. There is more than a hint of Citroen’s iconic DS about the Eliica’s swept-back style and let us not forget that car looked unworldly when it debuted in 1955.
The current Eliica is the latest of a long line of prototypes, although Professor Shimizu and his team are rumoured to be readying limited retail production of the car for anyone with several million yen to spare.
EV-X7 Hybrid Motorcycle, by Axle
While the environmental advantages of a motorbike are considerably less than its four-wheeled counterpart, it has not taken long for inventors to compress hybrid units onto two wheels. This Japanese concept is perhaps the most avant-garde of the bunch, a low-rider styled bike that is part Manga, part Peter Fonda.
Incorporating a ‘hybrid magnetic engine’ developed by Tokyo’s Genesis Corporation, the bike’s specially developed ‘Sumo’ motor is expected to give a range of about 110 miles, which is more than enough to escape even the most sprawling megalopolis.
Hybrid scooters, by Piaggio
Scooters already tick most of the boxes in the quest to green the city – there is no denying that the enduring shape and ultimate convenience of the Vespa has done much to stave off the more widespread adoption of the urban automobile. Piaggio tempted us with two hybrid concepts back in 2006, the Vespa LX50 and the Piaggio X8 125, but there has been remarkably little since. Admittedly, the technology on show was not exactly cutting edge by modern hybrid standards, but a 20% fuel saving is not to be sniffed at. Nor is the electric-only ’silent’ mode – perfect for traversing the endless expanses of the world’s more tiresome trade shows.
The technology is currently being trialed in Italy – imagine Rome without the sound of rasping two-stroke engines.
AutoTram concept, by Fraunhofer Institute
Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute is one of the world’s leading research organisations, with labs scattered across the globe. Transportation is one of the specialist areas of research and this AutoTram concept, developed in conjunction with Switzerland’s light rail specialists, Doppelmayr Garaventa, does away with cumbersome rails and wires so that it can run on regular roads.
The fuel cell-powered vehicle is a push-me, pull-you bi-directional, modular design, meaning that the AutoTram can be of varying lengths depending on the application. Especially neat is the way the tram takes small sips of power from a special docking station located at each passenger stop and the minimal infrastructure makes the system attractive in historic city centres.
FCX fuel concept, by Honda
Honda believes hydrogen is the fuel of the future. So much so, that it has invested a huge amount of money in the project, including using the island of Yakushima as a testing lab for their fleet of first generation FCX’s, with hydrogen generated from the island’s huge hydro-electric power station.
FCX mark two is a more marketable proposition, the size of a family saloon, with sleek bodywork and a space age interior. Partnering the FCX is the HES, or Home Energy Station, a mini power station which sits in your garage, using natural gas to create hydrogen to fuel your car, as well as power for your house. With high energy prices and surging demand creating grids all over the world, the latter function may be useful. For now, the FCX concept is only for show, but the company is committed to bringing more hydrogen powered cars to market.
VentureOne, by Venture
Car enthusiasts are notoriously defensive, which is why legislative attempts at improving efficiency tend to go down like a lead weight. Faced with possible extinction unless they clean up their act, the sports car owner of tomorrow could be an endangered species, which is where a firm like Venture comes in.
Taking the ‘tilting’ technology developed by the Dutch engineering firm Carver, Venture have developed a two-seater, cockpit style road machine which promises exceptional performance from a specially-developed hybrid propulsion system. The claims made for the VentureOne are impressive; 100 miles to the gallon, 100+ mph, and a driving experience ’that can only be compared to flying a jet fighter two feet off the ground.’
Bio Power 100, by Saab
Saab has an unlikely ally in the shape of George W Bush. The US President has decided that bio fuel is the best way forward for American industry, a stance that indicates it is the most conservative emissions-lowering technology on the market. Perhaps Bush was looking to Sweden, which has one of the most developed ethanol infrastructures in the world, plus government tax breaks that ensure widespread use.
At the forefront of this market is Saab. The Swedish car company might be a subsidiary of General Motors, but it has a loyal customer base, a sober design aesthetic, strong attention to detail and discrete yet exceptional performance. Saab has produced a raft of bio ethanol-powered concepts and production cars, from the dramatic Aero X concept to the high-performance Bio Power 100 seen at this year’s Geneva show.
CityCab concept, by Raimo Nikkanen
The fume-belching taxi-cab could be a thing of the past if the Finnish CityCab concept takes off. While no-one is denying the flexibility offered by the urban taxi, or their role in cutting car journeys and keeping things moving, the design of the average cab has stayed fossilised for generations.
Even though LTI Vehicles’ new TX4 - the latest version of the venerable London Taxi - has an efficient diesel engine at its heart, the 1950s-style bodywork makes even the newest model look like an extra from an Ealing comedy rather than a symbol of a cutting-edge capital city.
Developed by Professor Raimo Nikkanen and his students at Helsinki’s University of Art and Design and Polytechnic, the CityCab will not win any beauty contests, but then this hybrid-powered concept aims to be ergonomic, inclusive and the perfect tonic for any congested city centre.
The Astrolab, by Sacha Lakic for Venturi
You have to credit car-makers with some initiative; faced with the ongoing urban corralling of their product, legislative strictures and mixed consumer messages, the big companies are struggling to shift away from decades of fossil fuel dependence. The process will not be an easy one and so far the carrot for consumers has been using hybrid power to make large cars more efficient.
That is not enough for Venturi, a French manufacturer, who developed the Fétish, an all-electric sports car that benefits from the instant torque generated by an electric motor. The Fetish is cute but little more than a continuation of the fast and furious status quo. Their next product, The Astrolab, boasts an electro-solar hybrid system, which uses an electric motor boosted and charged by the array of solar panels. The design, by Sacha Lakic, exploits the need for flat surfaces, low drag and very light weight; the central passenger tub provides balance.
Termas Geometricas, Chile
No matter how organic or biodegradable their products, spas are notoriously un-eco. Not so the Termas Geometricas nestled in the native forest of Villarrica National Park in Chile’s Southern Lake country 450 miles south of Santiago.
Local architect German del Sol has harnessed natural hot spring water to flow into a series of seventeen slate-lined pools via a warren of wooden conduits, which run under geometric walkways that jut their way through the forest.
Every pool has its own pavilion with private bathrooms, lockers and a deck and the whole construction has been assembled using local, sustainable timber.
The restaurant/café, Quincho, which forms the hub of the complex, has a roof planted with wild grasses to blend into the surroundings and as there is a strict rule forbidding food and drink to be taken anywhere near the pools, this natural phenomenon will suffer minimal pollution at the hands of crowds.
Hotel Basico, Playa del Carmen
When the Mexican designers, Moises Ison and Jose Antonio Sanchez, were commissioned to create Habita Hotel’s new property on the Caribbean coast catering to urban sophisticates, they cleverly incorporated authenticity, sustainability and eco elements into the new build.
The construction constitutes Caribbean sand mixed with cement and concrete and the restaurant El Viento del Humo has the layout, feel and food of a local Mexican market with traditional family recipes of fresh local seafood and handmade tortillas.
But it is the clever use of recycled materials which give this beach retreat rare eco credentials. The two rooftop pools are made from old petrol tanks, the rubber floors from old car tyres and all 15 rooms have been built with reclaimed wood.
Tauana Lodge, Brazil
In our book the words eco and chic can rarely be justified in the world of upmarket hospitality. But the Portuguese architect, Ana Catarina Ferreira da Silva, has created an exceptional property in an idyllic corner of Bahia which has both elements.
On the site of a former farm the size of 23 football pitches, Tauana Lodge is located a 10 km from the nature reserves of Parque Nacional Monte Pascoal and Parque Nacional do Descobrimento. The retreat has no pool (chlorine is a pollutant), bikes are provided so the grounds remain untouched by petrol fumes and there are no televisions, sound systems or electric lights, so noise and light pollution is negligible.
The nine modern villas have been constructed using traditional Indian techniques and sustainable Amazonian hardwoods, and the tropical-fusion cuisine is organic and grown on-site.
Hix Island House, Puerto Rico
When the architect John Hix penned his influential book ‘The Glass House’ back in 1974, he espoused all things green, and the minimalist Japanese aesthetics of wabi sabi, which dictated that as materials age they take on a weathered beauty.
His beautiful property in Puerto Rico champions both these principles with incredible style, rejecting the rustic look that is the norm for Caribbean retreats. Spacious rooms and Frette linens and robes are some of the few references to the usual luxury hotel offering.
There are no telephones or televisions, the food is local and rain-water is collected for the outdoor showers, heated via solar panels and then used to water the guava, banana, papaya and lemon trees in the garden. The four buildings of the complex blend beautifully with the tropical environment and the landscaped gardens which contain only native plants.
Acorn House restaurant, London
Greener-than-thou gourmet eaterie Acorn House in London’s up-and-coming King’s Cross has raised the bar for guilt-free dining on the city’s highly sophisticated restaurant circuit. Light bulbs are low-voltage, the paint on the walls is chemical-free and all the ingredients are sourced with recyclable packaging and bio diesel-fuelled transport in mind, keeping the carbon footprint down to negligible.
But if you think you have heard this all before, think again. Firstly, the food is fresh, simple and excellent and the ethos of offering seasonal dishes has been taken to a new level as the dishes are created using ingredients sourced weekly not seasonally. Secondly, it has highly sustainable ethics, setting up ‘breakfast club’ and ‘lunch box’ schemes for local schoolchildren and ensuring its credo reaches the local community through work experience placements and employment of locals wherever possible.
Little Kuala, Namibia
With their acclaimed work for Wilderness Safaris, the South African architect Silvio Rech and interior designer Laurie Owen have made their name as a dream team for hoteliers looking for contemporary design with eco cache.
Their lodge in the Okavango Delta, Vumbura Plains, was the first to catch our eye as it was a radical departure from the cut-glass crystal and pith-helmets pastiche of the ubiquitous upmarket luxury game park retreat. Little Kuala was yet more impressive as the architecture references the local vernacular with its thatching, and its location in a dried-up lake called Dead Vlei is a perfect spot for experiencing Namibia’s dunes.
The roofs are supported by reclaimed tree trunks, chairs are woven from recycled plastic by South African designer Haldan Martin, raffia Medusa lamps are made with hand-rolled glass beads from Ghana and Ethiopian silver-nickel beads hang from walls.
De Kas, Amsterdam
Fresh market produce has become the new by-word for fine-dining recently, but Amsterdam’s De Kas restaurant has been way ahead of the curve since its conception in 2001.
Chef Gert Jan Hageman saved the city’s Municipal Nursery from the demolition ball and converted the eight-metre high greenhouse into a restaurant with its own fruit, vegetable and herb garden attached which supplies it with fresh produce. Celebrated local designer, Piet Boon, gave the space a distinctly Dutch look and the locals flocked to De Kas.
Now firmly established as one of the best eateries in town, it has started to attract a discerning international crowd undaunted by the lack of choice on the menu (there is not one – it is one-dish-fits-all with options for vegetarians and non red meat eaters).