Monday, April 30, 2012

IKEA gets all thought-provoking on us

The bowls are OK, but the concept is pretty interesting. As designers, material choice and life cycle implications are decisions we face every day. IKEA is pushing that decision downstream and highlighting it for the consumer. From IKEA's 2012 PS line*:
IKEA PS 2012 bowl is produced in two versions with different materials; one in recycled PET plastic and one in WPC, a mixture of plastic and wood fiber. PET is easier to recycle than WPC, but WPC is more environmentally friendly to produce. That brings us to the real smart part; the bowls look the same and give you the chance to think about the advantages and disadvantages of the materials. And if thousands of people must choose bowls, hopefully it will lead to thousands of discussions about our environment. Which one do you choose?”
And you thought IKEA was just about cute throw pillows and $1 frozen yogurt.

*Should be available in the US on May 1.
Images from IKEA. Quote from IKEA's PS 2012 Press Kit.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Industrial birdhouses, DIY style

I don't know if birds really would nest in this, but it looks amazing. I had no idea that Lowe's had such awesomeness in their idea library. 

The Lowe's website has a whole series of modern (and possibly impractical) DIY birdhouses, complete with tutorials and material lists.

Images from Lowe's. Via Craft & Craftgawker.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Calling all green makers

Make Magazine is sponsoring a DIY contest. Win your own 3D printer and a chance at a Nissan Leaf, plus fame and fortune and a chance to show off your skills. Details here.
If you're more of a voyeur than a competitor, you can just lurk in the gallery here. There are some great ideas already up, and more coming. I've pulled a couple of teaser photos for you. Good luck!
Images from Make. From the top, 
Sprout vases from old wooden buoys, 
Alley Cat kinetic art from found wood, and 
recycled phone book desk organizer.

Friday, April 20, 2012


The amazing curators over at Fab* tipped me off to the work of Montreal artist Vanessa Yannow. She's very versatile, and there's a lot of variety on her website. However, it's the zipper necklaces that got me. 

There's something the juxtaposition of fancy art glass and the mundane zipper, plus seeing the metal teeth next to bare skin, that really works for me. I don't know if there's anything really green about these, but the concept lends itself to salvaged zippers and a variety of pull ornaments. I'd love to see these in person.

*Note: The Fab sale is over, but you can see more of Vanessa's work at her web site.

Images from Vanessa Yannow. Via Fab.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Little Pony gets a greener pasture

Some of you may know that in my professional (non-blogging) life, I've spent a lot of time in the business of toys. We often feature lovely and expensive wooden toys, but I also dig a well-designed shiny plastic bit of awesomeness. Whatever you think about that kind of mass-market, plastic-producing, made-in-China industry, you have to recognize that a huge percentage of toys are made this way, and not everyone is going to be inclined to buy green. Plus, someday your kid may fall in love with My Little Pony, and you'll find that the lovely set of wooden blocks doesn't capture her imagination quite as completely as three little pastel plastic ponies with brushable hair.

For me, one of the biggest scandals in toy sustainability has been that the marketing requirements (real, or perceived?) push small products into oversized plastic packaging. This always bothered me, because the kid gets so little value from a throw-away package. WalMart started pushing on this a few years ago, awarding "points" for a tighter package-product ratio and more responsible materials. Now Hasbro is stepping up with a real set of changes. Among the goals:
  • 15% improvement in product-to-packaging ratio across the board.
  • Eliminating all PVC (the material most commonly used in plastic blisters) in packaging by 2013.
  • Eliminating all wire ties. In 2011, Hasbro replaced all their wire ties with paper or bamboo rattan. This showed up in a couple of our Christmas presents, and the paper ties are charming.
  • Increasing the recycled content of the paper stock from 75% (2011) to 90% (2015).
I'm always excited to hear one of the big players decides to make a real difference. As my five-year-old would say "clap it up for Hasbro." Nice work!

 Images from RainMama's Flickr Site (top) and Hasbro (bottom). Via Greener Package.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dylan Design

I've been working on some geometric lighting designs (more to come on that soon), and I discovered Dylan Design. The team at Design*Sponge always find the most exquisite lighting, and these pendants are no exception. 

I'm crazy for the dark faceted wood and the red cord (available in other colors, too), and check the chandelier version!

 Images from Dylan Design's Etsy shop. Via Design*Sponge.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Double-down on your do-gooding

Today is Good Friday (and the start of Passover), so today's post is about good. You've heard of TOMS, right? They make shoes, and their business is revolutionary. Don't get me wrong, their shoes are nice--cute, comfy, popular enough to be knocked off by Sketchers, etc. But the revolutionary magic of TOMS isn't in the shoes, but in this one little statement
With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair to a child in need.
I don't know if the founder of TOMS originated the one-for-one approach, but he took it mainstream. Since their success, every little do-good product company I know is toying with the strategy--Buy our pet bed, and we'll donate one to the ASPCA; buy our toothbrush, and we'll donate one to this homeless shelter; buy our McNuggets, and we'll donate a Happy Meal to.... OK, maybe not EVERY company.

Now they've partnered with FEED Projects, which is a worthwhile enterprise in its own right. The result is the FEED 12. If you buy a pair, they'll donate a pair of shoes and 12 school meals. Maybe they're not as cute as the glitter TOMS, but if you want to double-down on your do-gooding, this is one way to go. 

Have a great holiday, everyone!

Images from TOMS. Via Ecouterre.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Slice of heaven

One of the first posts we did here at the Lab was about Seattle design firm Graypants and their doodle lighting. Now they've designed a very cool looking chair made from a single sheet of plywood.

The Graypants team is working hard on all aspects of their low-waste approach. Their Slice Chair gets 3 chairs out of each sheet of FSC-certified plywood, and their low-VOC finish is actually a by-product of cheese. You can purchase one (or three) via their website.

Images from Graypants.