Sustainable design in 2014 is nothing like the bland, politically correct products of the past. On the contrary: designer now develop products that are clever and refined; light-hearted even. Therefore, the beautifully serene Westerkerk in Amsterdam was the perfect location for the exhibition Enlightened Design, organized by Connecting the Dots. This showcase of sustainable design was one of the highlights of this year's Elle Festival. Craftscurator wrote an article for Elle Decoration NL on the exhibition.
Innovation of material plays a crucial part in sustainable design. Designers are researching the possibilities of new, natural and renewable materials. Laura Lynn Jansen and Thomas Vailly developed bowls that 'grow' because calcium builds onto a 3D printed framework. Lilian van Daal also made use of rapid prototyping. Her chair is printed in a recyclable material with a complex structure. This technique makes the use of several materials in one chair obsolete.
To develop new materials, designers often collaborate with scientists and manufacturers. Dutch Stichting Doen stimulates development of sustainable materials and organizes the annual New Material Award, which will be rewarded for a fifth time this November. Previous winners include Marjan van Aubel with her Energy Collection (an early version of the Solar Table) and Kristie van Noort with her Cornwall ceramics. Most of the project funded by Doen have found a commercial application. That is exactly the purpose of the foundation: to support designers and enable them to find partners and manufacturers for their new materials.
Of course sustainability does not only concern the use of material. Also production processes can be improved much more: think of the extremely polluting textile industry in Asia. Designer Eline Groeneweg shows that manufacturing can be done in a different way: together with an Indian producer she develops new dyeing processes. At the exhibition 'Enlightened Design' Groeneweg exhibited table cloths with a tie-dye pattern, coloured with natural dyes.
Designer Floris Wubben finds his sustainable approach closer to home, and encourages people to make their own products, by hand or with the use of machines. With his clay-press you can create your own unique vase in no-time.
It has become a big trend: inventing machines and developing new production processes. Dave Hakkens, the star-graduate of 2013 because of his briljant phone bloks, made a plastic- recycling machine. His 'Precious Plastics' is a series of vases make of old shampoo bottles. Sometimes, the unmistakable L'Oreal red is still showing in the end product.