CRITICAL & CONTEXTUAL STUDIES 13-14
MODULE TITLE: INDEPENDENT RESEARCH REPORT PROJECT
TITLE OF WORK: HOW A DESIGNER EXPLORES SUSTAINABILITY IN PRODUCTS?
The eco compass
Green design, designers and their sustainable products
The lamp shade concept, final product and reflection
Introduction Sustainability is defined as the capacity or volume of something to be supported by itself. Sustainability is about taking what we need to live now, without risking the possibilities and needs of people in the future or what they need to survive. It can cover almost everything, such as people and culture, jobs and the financial situation, cities and countries, etc. The philosophy of 3D design has explored environmental design too, as it follows the principles of ecological sustainability, which considers the recyclability of materials and renewability of design, toxic chemicals, energy and water. Product design needs to propose an efficient, safe functionality of products and also the economics and attractiveness for consumers at the same time. As such, a designer needs to be concerned about the reduction of natural resources (NSW, 2007; McLennan, 2004; UMASS, 2007). This article looks at green or eco product design and the reason a designer becomes a green designer, therefore I will assess some designers, including Nikki Bulstin (Heath, n.d.) and Emma Swindle (Swindell, n.d.), the Liquidesigners group (Liquidesign, n.d.), Japer Morris (Lobos, 2012) and Warner Aisslinger (BASF, 2012), all who are known as sustainable designers. This study looks at these designersâ€™ works and key analysis; also it goes through the lamp shade concept, final product and the practice designerâ€™s reflection. Human beings are born sustainable. They are structured, they care about values and traditions, and they are thirsty to learn new things and expand their knowledge (Fry, 2011). Green design and being a green designer are not new arguments. As principles, they started around the 1970s and thinking about the environment and the future has made society reform the environmental policies that motivate green or eco design. Now designers have been convinced that low toxic and healthier materials and products have an impact on humans and their environment (Gibbons, 1992).
The reason for and interest in opening and exploring this argument goes back to a module taken last year: â€œDialogues in design: 3D practiceâ€?. One of the subjects in this module was sustainable design. In one of the sessions a video was shown about E-waste. E-waste is not the argument in this study, but it was a strong encouragement to think about the environment and sustainable design and materials, therefore it was a reason to do more research on this subject. According to the video (Mike Anane, 2011), electronic waste has been shipped and dumped illegally in some of the African countries, such as Ghana in West Africa. It comes from Australia, Britain and the United States. This equipment is old and is burnt by African children. They try to burn the wires to access valuable components, such as the metals inside. This equipment contains hazardous chemical waste which has an impact on African childrenâ€™s health. It can poison people and the environment (Anane, 2011). Due to more research about green sustainable designers and materials, Patrick Govang has been shown in TEDx program to be a Green-tech innovator, who is well known as such, and the creator of new materials made from soybean and flax seed. He found out that they can be grown, managed and gathered confidently (Govang, 2012).
The indoor lamp shade concept Finally, I shall introduce the indoor lamp shade product and this study goes through its key analysis. This product has been made by using sustainable materials and a sustainable design has also been considered.
Discussion Product or industrial design initiated in the 20 th century to offer and deliver their design development for the manufacturing section and this connection between them has become the key to the success of the companies. Designers are subsidising their broad range of knowledge, expertise and skills to modern life. In recent years sustainability issues are elevated. However, most companies are hesitant about dealing with the new conditions, because the sustainability argument is a quite a new argument in the design world and the lack of knowledge influences companies to leave it to their last issue to think about it. Despite this, there are experienced and new designers who are concerned about it and there are various factors which encourage them to look at sustainability: the material culture is one. They can challenge and offer a solution to explore substitute options. However, this movement needs a big transformation in design practice and development. They need to create a new culture of aesthetic understanding and describe what a good design is (Walker, 2006; McLennan, 2004). Sometimes designers can be part of the problem by proposing a bad design or they can be part of the solution by proposing a smart design. Professional designers have triggered the concentration on the environment and the future. A good designer leads the aesthetics through function; it means a product is given a style based on its function. They believe that green design is about reducing the use of non-renewable materials to avoid the environmental impacts now and in the future (Fairs, 2009). "If you wish to fly and want to successfully construct an aircraft in order to do so, you need to understand the basic principles of aerodynamics. Similarly, if we are serious about ensuring a sustainable future, we need to be guided by a set of principles, which underlie sustainability as an enduring state" (Ben-Eli, 2006).
Concern with the actions on sustainability and human beings and thinking about the future has been growing since the 1960s and it was published in 1962 as Rachel Carsonâ€™s Silent Spring. Rachel Louise Carson was an American biologist who became concerned about environmental problems late in the 1950s. She believed that synthetic pesticides had an impact on the environment. Her theory and movement led to the creation of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Growing environmental damage and air pollution and attention to energy resources helped to expand the Green movement in the 1960s. The Club of Rome was established in 1968. Friends of the earth in Europe, Greenpeace in Canada and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) were formed in 1971 (Hickman, 2012; Walker, 2006).
2.1. Theories There are five core principles of sustainability, which offer consistency to the original ideas: -The Material: this establishes the source of materials and energy that motivate existence. -The Economic: this offers a guide for generating and handling wealth. -Life: this delivers appropriate behaviour in the environment. -The Social: this offers the social interfaces. -The Spiritual: this recognises the essential attitude and offers the source for a worldwide code of principles. (McLennan, 2004; Ben-Eli, 2006) Sustainable product design covers a variety of purposes that will differ with position and place, time, knowledge, environment, culture. It is not possible to imagine how a sustainable society is; it can only be estimated based on information and possibilities. However, as the experts gain experience and knowledge, their understanding will increase and their vision will progress (Walker, 2006). 6
The dependency between marketing and sustainability and resource consumption has developed. In the 1960s and 1970s, the environment was not considered relevant to marketing. During the 1980s, people realised the relevance between environment and marketing and how they impacted each other (Cooper, 2010). Sustainability and industrial economic structures: - The Social: this offers the social interfaces and determines how far they can go further. - Take out the stuff and natural sources from a hole in the ground and make the environment better or worse. - Using the stuff and natural sources to manufacture products. - Using products for a while and putting them back into another hole in the ground and making the environment better or worse (Tim Cooper, 2010).
2.2. The Eco-compass Eco-design tries to decrease the environmental influences which come from products and their lifespan and this includes materials and manufacturing, packaging and transportation, consumers and disposal. There are some ways to maintain the process of Eco-design and innovation, such as Eco-compass. This method was created to summarise environmental information and data into a modest style to help in the combination of environmental issues and business decision development. This compass explores the most important environmental issues within six poles: - Mass intensity This looks at impacts, such as the amount of fresh material removed, transport and packaging. - Energy intensity This is about energy consumption during a productâ€™s lifespan. - Extending service and function This looks at how to increase the amount of a productâ€™s functions and deliver a service to customers. 7
- Health and environmental risk First, this is about the identification of risks and hazards which impact the environment, and secondly decreasing the risks and hazards by using design innovation skills. - Recourse conservation This looks at natural and natural resources and renewable energy and materials. - Revalorisation This looks at the recycling, reusing and remanufacturing of the products (Pieniazek, 2013).
Figure 0 â€“ The Eco-compass (Fussler & James, 1996).
2.3. Green design, designers and their sustainable products Emma Swindell, Zigzag furniture Her passion and interest is to create sustainable communities for the future and she believes that she can do this activity through educating children in out of the 8
classroom. Her specialities are sustainable communities, renewable energies and community education (Swindell, 2014). Within her projects she has dealt with group research, develops design and made a piece of furniture. As John Gibbons mentions, the project explores modern culture as much as sustainable culture with healthier material, which has an impact on humans and the environment. By looking at her product it is noticeable that she is concerned with contemporary furniture and sustainable material and at the same time she uses brown cardboard and plywood in her furniture design and has also designed a piece of flat pack furniture with combined functionality, which can be used in multiple ways, such as a desk for a laptop or a side table with a small storage area for magazines and books, a seat. This product is smooth with a zigzag design, easy to assemble as it has been put together and the structure is held with cable ties and can be used in small spaces, rather than using a large traditional desk with a chair and a large bookcase. This piece of work has good aesthetic qualities as well as sustainable material and it is simple and multifunctional (Swindell n.d.).
Figure 2 â€“ Zigzag furniture
Nikki Blustin, Suspended table 9
He displays good knowledge and experience in his work. He is passionate about environmental products. In the range of products he has created he combines functionality and green thinking as the two most important and key factors, which can be seen in the strong sustainable approach. The materials he uses include low toxin and recycled materials. According to Oliver Heat, "good design and style are essential for all environmental products; good design raises the emotions, it gets us excited, which is the key to making them commercially viable, and competitive with traditional products" (Heat, n.d.). As Oliver Heat says, a good design is vital environmentally. The project is about a suspended table and this piece of furniture is very flexible and adjustable and adaptable to any environment. The product is two layers of tables, which are suspended from the ceiling using marine fitting, cables and winches. Both inner and outer components can be fixed at any level and height and when the table is not in use it can be lifted up to the ceiling (Heat, n.d.). This table can be adjusted to any height as it is suspended. It is a good idea to put the table away while it is not in use, but in terms of aesthetics it does not provide an interesting and exciting product, as it is a massive piece of ply wood suspended and the rest of the furniture gets exchanged, they wonâ€™t be matched with the suspended ply wood.
Figure 5 - 2 ply 2 tables Liquidesigners, Paper bag light Liquidesigners are furniture designers. Their design products range from lamps to furniture. This paper bag light is designed by the designers at Liquidesigns to use a 10
disposable, modest paper bag which is in use every day. This light can stand on a side table or be suspended. The material of this product is paper and cardboard and recyclable, the design is iconic. As Ettore Sottsass mentioned, the design used to talk about function, but it should be attractive and interesting too (Sottsass, n.d), (Lightpublic, 2013).
Figure 6 - Paper bag light Jasper Morison, Cork furniture Jasper Morison, who is an eco-designer, believes in simplicity in design which leads to sustainability, as the product connects with the user and this gives the product a long lifecycle. According to this philosophy, â€œsome products are created with such simplicity that they become icons of their own category. These products are so ordinary that they actually become extraordinaryâ€? (Lobos, 2012). One of the interesting renewable products is cork and it is produced in Portugal. It is taken from the bark of trees. Jasper Morison designed and made a chair by using recycled wine-bottle corks. He pressed the used corks and compelled it into a compact material and then formed it by using a computer-controlled milling machine to produce a chair. In the picture below there are two pieces of furniture which are simple and practical. As Marcus Firs says, this is corksâ€™ assets to make furniture, because it is very light and tough sustainable material; both of these pieces of furniture can be used as chair and side table and they can be recycled (Fairs, 2009).
Figure 7 - Cork furniture Werner Aisslinger, Hemp chair Werner Aisslinger uses the latest technologies in his product manufacture and explores new materials and techniques (Aisslinger, 2013). The chair is called a monocaihr and it is designed by Warner Aissliner. He has innovated new technology, which is moulded hemp (natural fibres) under heat plus ecological glue. According to Warner Aissliner, consumers are looking for a healthy lifestyle, which is balanced with the environment; also they are looking for contemporary design as well as light material. This product is light-weight, stackable, strong and green as it is made of renewable hemp material (BASF, 2012). According to Jason McLennan Product, a design needs to propose efficient functionality of products and also be economical and attractive for consumers at the same time. In this product a smooth line can be seen, which makes the product attractive and easily stackable, and the material and manufacturing process are economical.
Figure 8 - Hemp chair
2.4. The lamp shade concept, final product and reflection: 12
Concept proposal This proposal is planned to introduce a sustainable lamp shade. The purpose of this design is to educate and encourage people to purchase sustainable products. It should be recyclable and reusable.
There are some issues with the existing lamp shade; they would not stay clean and beautiful as it used to be, especially if they are in fabric, so it has to be removed. By purchasing new decorative objects, the old lamp shade can be thrown into the bin or stored. This lamp shade is for an indoor environment, say a living room or bedroom. It should be sustainable and in terms of sustainability, both design and materials are considerable. It should have a combined functionality to use the product longer and avoid throwing it away, thereby preventing a consumption culture. It should be simple and easy to use. The expense of the product is considerable. All components have to be attached securely. If the production level of the product is high, mass product is considerable. Design into this product should have communication with the user at an emotional level (semantics). The material is mod rock and plywood. This product can be sold in a wide range of outlets, any retail home wear market. The product should be long-lasting. Icons, signs and indications for any function on this product should be well-designed and clear for the user (semantics). The product should be environmentally friendly by minimising physical and visual pollution through the lifecycle of the product. The electronic part of the product should be a LED lamp. The lamp shade should have a natural shape. The aesthetics of the product should be carefully considered. This product is introducing the sustainable design and materials. The first thought of the concept was about an indoor sustainable product, which can be reusable and recyclable. According to Jason McLennan Product, the design needs to propose efficient functionality of products, so in terms of manufacturing a reusable product, the concept should be very flexible; this means a user interaction can use the product for different purposes. In terms of product recyclability, the material used is considerable. 13
By doing research on existing products within the industry and a mind map about the indoor environment and comfort, a decision has been made what product area to look at and this was indoor lights (User observation, 2013). The concept has been called Shimmer, as it has to give a bright spiral illumination, and the technology of the light is a LED lamp. The design concept includes two main components, which are a base and a shape. It is suitable to be located in a living room, so the first design plan has been made, which was looking at the shape, the scale, how the shade sits on the base and also material at the same time (Philips, 2013; User observation, 2013). The concept looked at the nature of life, which is based on growth and replication, and the first thought was looking at natural and organic forms and one of the best alternatives was the shape and function of DNA, with a smooth spiral form (University of Idaho, 2008). Thinking about light reflection is been reminding the galaxy and because the lamp is located in a living room, a smooth light with a smooth reflection is considerable , as the beauty of a light is not only about its shape, it is also about how to help the
journey of straight light through a shape to illuminate interesting reflections of different spaces (NASA, 2014). There is an oblique cylinder on the base which holds the lamp shade. This cylinder covers and protects the electric part of the lamp shade on the base (User observation, 2013). The electric part of the shade has been designed to be easily movable to make the product reusable for other purposes, so the shade is going to be used as a pen and pencil holder or it is going to be used in the domestic kitchen environment to keep the knives. The shade is still sitting on the base to give the lamp steadiness and the electric part, which is protected by a slender and located on the base, can be removed. This design explores combining functionality and looking at aesthetics at the same time. According to Georg Schlegel, â€œDesign means the art to combine functionality with aesthetics.â€?
Material selection and process The materials: As the first step, research has been done to find out what kind of sustainable material exists. A great many such materials exist in nature and on the market, but the next stage was to make the right choice, which involves matching with the shape of the product. The cost also has to be considered. Some of the alternative and potential materials, which are described below, are natural, such as hemp fibre, and some of them are non-natural, such as recycled rubber. -
Mod rock (Bevlin, 1993)
The next step was a material experiment to find out how the materials react against the other materials which have been used to achieve steadiness and structure, such as resin, water, etc. The material above is for the spiral lamp shade or the main structure and some materials need to be applied to connect all the components securely and give a rigid structure to the product (User observation, 2013).
The main materials selected for the lamp shade are hemp and mod rock and the materials which have been applied are natural resin, optical resin, water and PVA. Apart from the electric part, all the selected materials are sustainable (User observation, 2014). Different materials have been tested and the best result was mod rock and water, so this has been chosen as a final material to use for producing the lamp shade. However, the second choice was hemp, which was wrapped up around a spiral armature. Timber is the best choice for the base of the lamp shade (User observation, 2013).
Figure 9 – Shimmer 1 – Base unit ply wood
Figure 10 – Shimmer 2 – Lamp shade Mod rock 16
Figure 11 â€“ Lamp shade Hemp As Ben-Eli mentioned, â€œwe need to be guided by a set of principles, which underlie sustainability as an enduring state." In this product, the process and rules of sustainability have been considered, meeting all the requirements for having a multifunction product with recyclable materials, apart from the electrical components, and this can be part of consumers culture to look at the market wisely and continuously and to purchase a product with a sustainable design and materials. Designers are also responsible for considering the principles constantly. According to Josper Morisâ€™ philosophy, this design is simple and the function leads the style. Any needless elements have been avoided. The simplicity of the design leads to sustainability, as it will connect with the user for a long time.
Conclusion: Looking at the issues which come from bad design and bad material usage, and how they impact on the environment and therefore humans and their future, encourages practice designers to look at sustainable design and conduct research to discover more new and interesting materials to make their product environmentally friendly. Sustainability has been recognised in recent years in most countries in the world.
This study showed that a sustainable product has to be safe and secure for users interaction, and also sustainable products and their manufacturing process must not have an impact on the environment and ecosystem within their life cycles. In this study, sustainability is defined according to two categories: sustainable design and sustainable materials. The sustainable design category focuses on how design can carry combine functionality to have contemporary and smart design and reduce the amount of products. Also, how consumers can reuse the product and avoid removing them easily. The sustainable material category focused on natural materials which are recyclable and renewable and do not have an impact on the environment. Some eco designers have been mentioned and their works have been analysed to explore how their products support the environment and keep consumers satisfied at the same time; and also they can reduce environmental costs through the long life span of their products. Some interesting contemporary products with smart design and simplicity in design have been looked at to find out how simplicity and smart function lead the products to sustainability as they connect with consumers emotionally and this makes the products have a long lifecycle and also saves space and cost. The sustainable products with combined functionality are able to save space, as with the modern lifestyle and urbanism and population, space is one of the issues. Sustainable design with multi-function ability reduces the cost. This study looked at low toxin and recycled materials and also new materials, such as soybean and flax seed, which can be grown easily and are manageable to produce new materials with low costs. Five principle of sustainability have been looked at, which are: Material, Economic, Life, Social and Spiritual, and each principle affects all the other principles. One the methods of Eco-design and innovation have been looked at, which shows that, by using these sorts of methods and styles, the progression of Eco-design is 18
achievable. This style supports the combination of environmental issues and business decision development and progression. In this study a concept has been proposed, which is an indoor lamp shade. This product has been designed and manufactured based on sustainability principles and they include: 1) Sustainable design, to explore combined functionality and make the product reusable, therefore giving it a long lifecycle, and also simplicity and the aesthetics of the product boost up the emotions and excitement and make a connection between consumers and the product. 2) Sustainable material, to make the product recyclable and renewable, avoiding any harm to the environment and minimising cost and energy use. It is not possible to have a completely sustainable design and materials. It depends on the complexity of products. The lamp shade concept which has been introduced during this study is one example. In this product, electrical components are involved, which makes the practice designer use non-sustainable materials, but it is valuable to follow sustainable design and principles and be a green designer, as the practice is growing and the experience and knowledge are expanding. So the possibility of being a completely sustainable designer is highly likely in the future.
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