Latest Articles in Green Design

Maru's Wasara collection features an array of beautifully designed biodegradable picnic plates, bowls, and cups.

The Next-Generation Paper Plate

I'm currently planning a party (ok, wedding) and have been coming across lots of interesting paper party supplies—including these awesome Gunilla Axén-designed cocktail napkins, which I am unreasonably thinking about shipping from England, and these ubiquitous but very charming paper straws, which I am most definitely ordering. Although we'll likely be serving dinner on proper china, I am tempted by these beautiful paper plates, bowls, and cups by Wasara: the loveliest disposable tableware I've seen.
April 7, 2011
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"Sustainism": the New Modernism?

Honestly, when the book Sustainism is the New Modernism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era (D.A.P. / Distributed Art Publishers, New York) first crossed my desk, I wasn't sure how to react. The book's graphic aesthetic was a bit cluttered but the concept of the book was intriguing—the authors Michiel Schwarz and Joost Elffers propose that "Sustainism" (a term they've coined to describe a new cultural movement related to sustainability)—is the "new ecology of our networked world." "Sustainism in the twenty-first century will be what Modernism was in the last," the authors state. It's "the confluence of globalization, the web, climate change, localism, media democracy, open source, environmentalism, and more," and "a collective worldview that stresses the interdependence among cultural and natural environments." The rallying cry is "do more with less"—in contrast to Modernism's ubiquitous "less is more." Here, Schwarz and Elffers talk about Sustainism (the book, and the concept) and why they think it's the way forward.
April 4, 2011
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Carneros Inn's Green Water System

A couple months back I stayed at the Plumpjack-owned Carneros Inn in Napa County. A more bucolic location you could not imagine, but beyond its tasty fare and sylvan setting, the Carneros has a deep commitment to sustainability. I got the tour from facilities manager Dan Philbin when I was there, and we recently spoke about the Inn's wastewater treatment facility, an on-site exemplar of water catchment and reuse. Here's what he had to say about making the most of the resources you have.
March 10, 2011
Completed in 2010, the 656,600-square-foot Eight House comprises over 107,000 square feet of office and retail space at ground level and 476 units throughout the nine floors above. Inside the two courtyards are over 5,300 square feet of public space for t

Bjarke Ingels on 'Bigamy'

It might be an understatement to say that Bjarke Ingels' firm the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has gone gangbusters. In a climate where much new construction is being delayed indefinitely and architecture firms are shrinking in size, BIG was recently awarded three high-profile contracts: The Greenland National Gallery of Art, Copenhagen's future 700-million-dollar waste to energy plant, and their first project in North America, a 600-unit residential building on West 57th Street in Manhattan. We caught up with Ingels right before he gave the keynote speech at the Global Green Cities Symposium last Thursday. He briefed us on his recent projects, how New York is becoming more and more like Copenhagen, and why "Bigamy" could be the next great concept in design.
March 1, 2011
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Design Indaba 2011

Cape Town's Design Indaba always kicks off with a conference of eclectic speakers from all over the world and wraps up with an expo focusing on Southern African designers. "Forget about the beauty," says New York-based designer Dror Benshetrit, as if every city with two oceans wrapped itself around a mountain. "The people are so welcoming, so open minded, so thirsty to be connected to the grid. I see a lot of potential in South Africa, a lot of creative, eager, ambitious people. I have a really good feeling that I'll be here again soon." Job creation and environmental stewardship have been oft-discussed themes at previous Indabas, but seem to have reached a critical mass this year, which may help its bid for World Design Capital 2014. In the following slideshow, have a look at some of the outstanding works created by the South African designers who exhibited at the 2011 Design Indaba Expo.
March 1, 2011
Shoup, his wife, Taya, and daughter, Hannah, relax on the deck off the kitchen with their dog, Stella. “For a high percentage of the year, we just roll open the door, and everybody hangs out in the kitchen, where we can keep an eye on Hannah,” explains Sh

Creative Re-Use in Oakland

Stephen Shoup is the kind of person to see potential in things that others might miss. In 2005, looking for a property that would house himself and his design/build firm, building Lab inc., he happened upon a roughly 6,000-square-foot lot in north Oakland, California. Undeterred by the condition of the building (it had served as a shop for the late master woodcarver Miles Karpilow) or the neighborhood (Shoup calls it “transitional”), he imagined what the property could become.
February 28, 2011

An 'Epic' Container Co-op

The good folks at Epic Software are building a video production studio out of old shipping containers just outside of Houston, Texas. They're also dutifully documenting the Creative Co-op's construction process from permitting to pouring the foundation on their blog. Epic's shipping container saga has humble beginnings: The design was initially developed using Google Sketchup and Vic Cherubini—the man at the helm of Epic—found his architect by posting an ad on Craigslist. Their overarching plan has been to use upcycled, recycled, and sustainable materials wherever possible. Vic answered a few of our burning questions, telling about the difficult and rewarding aspects of the project, and why sometimes the best design tools are free.
February 24, 2011
SOUPERgreen is on view at <a href="">A+D Los Angeles</a> until April 14th, 2011.

'Souped Up' Green Architecture

In a new exhibition at A+D Los Angeles, five architects—who at one time or another have worked at Jones, Partners: Architecture (J,P:A)—each created architectural propositions that use “technology in expressive ways, as a means of engaging the environment,” says J,P:A Principal Wes Jones. Inspired by the Rat Fink era of hotrodding, SOUPERgreen celebrates rather than hides technology, putting it out there for everyone to see. Jones likens the approach to mounting solar panels on a structure in the same way a flaring exhaust pipe defiantly juts out from a hotrod. “Souped up” architecture indeed. “We want the issues to be more apparent, more engaging, more fun, more visually impressive, so that you’re connected with those issues in a more direct or significant way,” says Jones. What follows is a look at these forward-thinking designs, including "appendages" cantilevered from skyscrapers, a self-sustaining urban farm scaled for a single-family residence, and a freeway system that launches cars to and fro.
February 15, 2011
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Stockholm Design Week 2011

We've been covering the 2011 Stockholm Furniture Fair for the past week, delving into everything from the heavy hitters on the main show floor to the promising young designers debuting prototypes in the Greenhouse. But one can't forget how important it is to soak up what's happening at satellite events around the city, where the creative types gather in the evening to have a drink or four, toast both the powerhouses and the rising stars, and just blow off steam from a day of meetings. Here we present a few images from the week.
February 13, 2011