Maintaining a design balance between nature and the necessities of lifeBy Alia Babapulle
People are doing great things with recycled wood and metal, recycled bits of
leather from car interiors and old belts, and I am so interested to see all these
sometimes boring old things being used and made into interesting, versatile and
beautiful design ideas.
There is probably nothing on sale today which cannot be turned around and
used in another way with imagination. If you have things lying around, use your imagination and turn them into something special and unique. Even dreaded
concrete with its very non eco-friendly sludge has now been transformed into
something much less damaging to our planet. See what new technology has
brought! I am at present obtaining old wooden pallets and painting them in
different vibrant colours, and will use them in my garden – non-toxic paint
The London-based We Montage company has come up with a new concept
for all your favourite photos. They produce removable wallpaper with your
pictures, using eco-solvent and eco-friendly inks. Not only can you have your
fondest and best memories captured for you to look at, but you can also take
them with you.
The idea came from James Oliver Jr. and took off when he thought about how
people could always transport their memories with them, instead of photos in
frames or on the computer. From there, as so often happens with a thought, it
has expanded into a company producing something quite different.
Duffy London is the brainchild of Christopher Duffy, who graduated in design
from Brighton University and started to make products from his kitchen. The
company now produces all of its work in a spacious studio. Duffy London’s designs
are ideas-based, combining art and function and playing with the concepts
of gravity, geometry and illusion. The innovative and quirky designs spring from
the mind of Chris, although he also draws on his talented designers and manufacturers
to turn these concepts into quality products.
Everything is hand-made to order by skilled craftspeople in the UK, using sustainable
wood and other eco-friendly materials and mediums, thus giving the
company impeccable eco credentials. The designs produced are fun, and always
ensure that the materials used do not harm the planet. The Up Balloon table, the
Abyss table and the Wolf Within Shadow Chair are just three perfect examples
of the wackiness to be found from this company.
I came across this talented young Israeli purely by chance, as I was looking for
new talent and loved her work. Hilla Shamia is a product designer who graduated
from Holom University in Israel. After graduating, she opened her own
studio concentrating on using natural elements of wood and aluminium and
completely new technology. She was striving for the fusion of wood and metal
without any joins.
The wood comes from local, whole-tree trunks that are then cut to size and put
into a mould, which defines the outcome of the piece when fused together with
the metal. As this process proceeds, it produces another component, charcoal.
The charcoal strip forms a line drawn between the wood and metal, adding
drama to the piece. The colours of the silvery blue aluminium and the warmth
of the wood are a winning combination. They are beautiful pieces indeed. You
can see from the fusion of the metal and wood that they marry perfectly and, as
the wood used is being recycled, the studio is doing two things: helping to save
the planet and showcasing very interesting design.
Concrete Canvas manufactures two award-winning products: Concrete Canvas®
GCCM (Geosynthetic Cementitious Composite Mat) and Concrete Canvas Shelters
(CCS). Both products are manufactured at the company’s headquarters near
Cardiff, in south Wales, from where it exports to 40 countries around the world.
Concrete Canvas GCCM® (CC) is a flexible cement-impregnated fabric that
hardens on hydration to form a thin, durable, water-proof and fire-proof concrete
layer, allowing concrete to be used in a completely new way. There is no
need for mixing or measuring: the concrete is pre-mixed and cannot be over
hydrated, and will set underwater and in seawater.
CC is a low-mass, low-carbon, geo-textile technology which uses up to 95 per cent
less material than conventional concrete for many applications. It is chemically resistant,
has good weathering performance and will not degrade in UV, and has a
design life of over 50 years. It can be cut or shaped using hand-tools, and requires a
minimal amount of personnel and training to install. It has proven to be easier, faster
and cheaper to install than conventional methods, such as poured concrete or shotcrete,
and produces less waste. It is available in man-portable rolls, allowing it to be
used in remote or difficult-to-access areas such as deep mines, and is also available
in three different thicknesses, allowing for a range of uses.
In short, CC allows construction and remediation projects in the civil sector to
be completed with more efficiency and flexibility and with a lower impact on
the environment than traditional concrete solutions. During a time of recession
and environmental scrutiny, clients are looking for more cost-effective, environmentally-
responsible solutions to their projects.