The issue of sustainability is becoming increasingly important in design, as elsewhere in life. Companies and manufacturers have long been aware that resources are finite, and are always looking for suitable ways to marry design with innovative, environmentally friendly ideas. We showcase some of their successes.
Back in with the old. From recycling to upcycling
Tableware is in the ascendancy. If you like company, you’ll enjoy having friends over for food and drinks. And you’ll need something in which to serve those drinks. But not all glasses are equal, and we don’t just mean how they look. Manufacturers and producers are now especially keen on recycling. Old glass is melted down and made into new items. This not only saves resources, it also helps protect the environment. Using such methods, manufacturers like Ritzenhoff & Breker save nearly six litres of water per kilogramme of glass produced. They also consume approximately 20 % less energy – enough to light a 100 W bulb for nearly 4 hours. The reason for this is that recycled glass can be melted down more easily than its constituent parts – and it can be completely melted, repeatedly, without any drop in quality. And who could doubt the aesthetic value?
But recycling is not the only way of breathing new life into existing materials and products. Manufacturers such as Kimoto Glass Tokyo are also turning to ‘upcyling’. The product retains its original form, but its design and function are transformed and enhanced. Who would have thought that bottle-shaped lamps could create such beautiful, minimalist lighting? The same goes for the arty curves of Green Glass’s Corona-bottle dish. The well-known logo remains intact, adding a lovely retro touch.
- 1 Lamps from Kimoto Glass Tokyo
- 2 Carafes from Ritzenhoff & Breker
- 3 Vase from Yadawee
- 4 Candleholder from Imperfect Design
- 5 Wine glass, whisky glass and dish from Green Glass
Local first, global second
What about production? After all, sustainability isn’t just about resource use, it’s also about the manufacturing process itself. Many companies and manufacturers prioritise local over global. They often perform all their production steps on-site, from first to last with a largely local workforce. Hence the Chile-based design team for Green Glass works with local scrap merchants and rubbish collectors to conquer new markets for their now valuable glass. Yadawee takes a similar approach. These Egyptian “designsmiths” focus for their top-quality products on traditional craft techniques and rely on local workers. The company also complies with strict fair trade standards, particularly in terms of exporting their wares. Today’s green vase in the living room is eye-catching for its looks and its ethics – both are totally transparent.