Visitors of Milan Design Week admire the thousands of new well-designed products. At the same time, it is not difficult to start questioning whether we really need such overwhelming amount of brand new things being launched every year? Maybe instead of half of them, it would be more useful to find an idea of how to reduce an amount of waste that is made during the production of everyday objects? According to some designers, we could use it to make… other pretty things. It does not solve the basic problem, but at least it could slightly decrease the amount of garbage going to landfills.
Milan Design Week organized in April is the best event in the world to notice that interior design industry does not follow important megatrends. Most of the top furniture companies have stuck in the twentieth century – the century of overproduction, irrational use of resources, environmental pollution, putting pressure on the superficial marketing and driving unhealthy consumption.
Old ways of advertising, including the one translated into quite new languages of Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat is still, more or less, effective. Some people are still eager to pay a lot of money for buying iIllusions. Companies can still pretend that society does not age, cities are not overcrowded and polluted, and everyone is young, healthy and rich. Business goes quite well, so it’s still easy to ignore clients who are interested in something more than pure aesthetics and good PR that can be found in design magazines.
If reducing consumption seems to be an utopian idea, maybe at least we should try to produce less waste? Or find a way to use them in a reasonable way?
It may take a dozen or more years for some well-known design companies to emphasize, instead of boasting the names of design celebrities and telling fabricated stories, any true information about the origin, list of components and properties of the materials, fabrics, dyes, glues and varnishes that they use in production, as well as work conditions of their employees, sources of electric power that is used to drive machinery in factories and vehicles for transporting materials and finished products, and sharing tips on how to repair or recycle household items they offer. Today, they do not answer these questions.
Clients who more and more carefully read food labels, as well as tags of purchased clothes, consciously choose electric cars, public transport and bikes for commuting, use renewable energy sources, and are willing to pay higher prices for organic products or those manufactured in the countries where decent salaries are paid to employees, will also pay much more attention to the impact of a furniture company on the environment when making a next purchase. These customers will not believe that the transition into a sustainable, environment-friendly production is too expensive.
Trend from Milan 2016: remnants
Nobody will replace rules and mechanisms driving the furniture industry today or tomorrow, but few brave young designers shown in Milan their interesting ideas of how to make use of remnants instead of disposing them to a landfill.
Some remnants can be used to make valuable things – objects that are pretty enouht to be featured in popular design media, which usually ignore enviremental issues related to furniture industry.
Below is a subjective selection of the most interesting projects presented during the Milan Design Week 2016. They are not branded by fancy labels neither designed by celebrities. They are derived from the sensitivity of young designers and their sincere – though perhaps a little naive – concern for the world, environment, and other people. And, what it’s much less important, they are all eye-catching.
Waste from 3D printers
Hot Wire Extensions by Studio ilio is a material process that exists out of a heat source, which is the nichrome wire, and a composite of nylon powder and sand. The nylon powder is a waste product collected from SLS 3D printing companies, where it is used for building several times and then thrown away (who has known that 3D printers also produce waste?!). Watch the video below to learn more about the process.
Being able to transform simple wire structures into solid bodies, the unimaginable freedom in shapes and properties of the material mixture make this process easily distinguishable from traditional manufacturing processes. The first collection of twelve stools aims at exploring the unique characteristics of the developed process opening up possibilities and further applications.
The sand acts as a filler material as well as a heat conductor by distributing the heat around the wire. The nylon powder melts and bonds during the curing process that turns the mixture into a solid body.
Studio ilio is a London and Berlin-based design studio established in 2015 by Seongil Choi and Fabio Hendry who formed the partnership while studying at the Royal College of Art.
Spotted at Ventura Lambrate.
Mineral mining in Quyang Town, known as “The Town of Sculpture” that is situated in Baoding City in Hebei, a province of China, is one of the largest industries in the area due to its rich mineral resources. At the same time, the area generates prolific amounts of dust – Quyang ranks as the second-worst town with air pollution in the country.
The stone dust has a detrimental effect on air quality and people’s health, not just in the quarry itself, but also in the surrounding towns and villages. These people, often on very low incomes receive little or no healthcare support and many suffer long-term health issues as a direct result of this dust.
The project by Mi Zhang explores the potential of mining the dust. By mixing marble dust, pine resin and natural local pigments, it is possible to engineer a very tough yet fully biodegradable material that can be utilised by local makers, industries and communities whilst also improving overall air quality.
The Mining Dust by Mi Zhang was one of the projects shown at the exhibition prepared by students of MATERIAL FUTURES, a two years masters course taught at Central Saint Martins, which is a part of University of The Arts London.
Spotted at Ventura Lambrate.
Chen Ju Wei (ViiCHEN), Taiwanese designer and founder of ViiCHENDESIGN studio shown a stool with a soft seat along with accessories that are made of leftovers from a production of PVC-free TPE yoga mats that were developed by Taiwanese composite company Microcell.
It’s not easy to believe, but legs, all joints and the shell under the cushion of the stool that all look and feel like ones made of natural wood, are entirely manufactured of the same Thermal Plastic Elastomer material as non-toxic yoga mats. Though, hard parts do not origin from yoga mats leftovers – they are made of a composite branded as CELLwood, which it is the same hazard-free TPE that is used in yoga mats production, but has a higher density.
As all parts of the furniture from N Collection are made of TPE, it is easy to recycle and reuse the material to avoid environmental pollution and reduce waste. In other words: brilliant, cool, nice and awesome.
Spotted at SaloneSatellite.
When the wood is being lumbered, there are those small parts that were left out. Even though they are harvested from the same tree, remnants are marked as low-value from the start. The intention of designers from Osaka-based Kairi Eguchi Design studio was to create something beautiful out of these remnants, even more beautiful than being made out of lumber. And as you can see on pictures below, they undeniably reached their goal.
Top boards of furniture and lighting from Wood Mosaic Collection are made of remnants of Japanese cedar in block shapes and put together in a mosaic.
Spotted at SaloneSatellite.
Buzz and glass
Marlène Huissoud, London-based but French-born designer coming from a family of beekeepers, is interested in the viability of utilising insects and their waste. In her project named Of Insects & Men, that continues her From Insects work, she combined honeybee bio resin (also known as propolis) with common industrial waste materials such as glass.
Marlène Huissoud has been collecting discarded glass pieces from different companies in London. The honeybee bio-resin is used here to bind the glass pieces together in sculptural alien look pieces.
Of Insects & Men project shows how two waste materials, natural and industrial, can perfectly complement each other. These objects question what is natural and what is not, what is fake and real, testing our knowledge of materiality, a visual perception of materials and a textural vibrancy.
Spotted at Ventura Lambrate.
If you have any questions regarding one or more projects mentioned above, do not hesitate to contact designers directly:
– N Collection by ViiCHENDESIGN: email@example.com,
– Wood Mosaic Collection by Kairi Eguchi Design: firstname.lastname@example.org,
– Hot Wire Extensions by Studio ilio: email@example.com,
– Mining Dust by Mi Zhang: firstname.lastname@example.org,
– Of Insects & Men by Marlène Huissoud: email@example.com.
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