Tag Archives: green

Of plants and plastic

Cité de la mode et du design, Paris

A couple of weeks ago, tired from a full week of completing projects both at work and at home, I decided to do a little indoor gardening. The tropical plants, lucky bamboos of birthdays past and and whatever is  left of an orchid plant after the bloom is gone were the subjects of the Friday night impromptu botany experiment.

Fifteen years ago, my grandmother gave me a plant that has not been repotted since. Imagine a 4 foot tall plant in a 6-inch plastic planter. It was an odd thing to behold.

“Why don’t I cut stalks from this plant and put them in water? I know roots will shoot. Let’s just see,” I thought to myself. the success story involves the first plant, roots and all, being potted the day before yesterday.

I never fancied myself a greenthumb but here I was, little plant in my hands, dirty with soil. I started thinking: “What’s an interesting plant to grow?”

I started thinking about my lithops when I was living in Montréal. Lithops are also known as living pebbles because they are the perfect example of biomimicry. Their camouflaged appearance has helped these succulent plants (ex. cacti) escape predation and getting eaten by the thirstiest of animals for the water stored in their leaves. They are ‘designed’ by nature to withstand the dry summers in Southern Africa, their native habitat.

I know I am geeking out, dear readers, but they are such strange plants and lithops just made me read more about them and other succulent plants. The best design inspirations definitely come from nature. Have you read Darwin’s “Origin of Species”? Go ahead. You’ll see how Alexander McQueen‘s Spring 2010 collection makes sense.

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Unromantically singing in the rain

Simon Warne with his Brollii

Smart design takes into account has an object’s ultimate purpose in mind. The rain that has taken residence over Toronto today has me thinking of how many umbrellas I have bought and how many have faced either of the two fates umbrellas usually have: breakage or loss. There are too many to recall.

The umbrella is such a great design concept in itself. I can imagine our cave-dwelling ancestors using a giant leaf for the same purpose, raising suspicions of witchcraft from the elders. Anyways…

Simon Warne, a Brunel University industrial design student in West London had an idea for an umbrella design that is ‘unbreakable’ and safe to open when other people are around.

The Brollii is an upside down umbrella that opens from the top. Imagine an umbrella that will not hit your neighbour’s face or worse, their eyes. Apart from the obvious advantage of not inflicting injury on others, the Brollii might also find a niche market in over-cautious people who fear legal suits in overly litigious communities.

So here I am, taking refuge in a café because riding a bike home in the rain is less attractive than writing about design and having a green tea. Maybe one day, someone will design an umbrella holder for bicycles, preferrably an unbreakable one. Capes do have a limit.

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What’s the matter with you, bamboo?

Sustainable design has been the expression on everyone’s lips with the realization that natural resources we have taken for granted are finite.

As the forests thin out and at a less attractive rate than select Hollywood types’ hairlines, designers look to being conscientious of their choice of materials.  Certain issues come up because bamboo grows naturally in Asia, an ocean away from our backwards.  It is then treated either with heat or chemicals like formaldehyde for longevity.  Some say that it affects the quality of indoor air.

The Calfee-designed bike is made of bamboo sourced from Taiwan.  The bamboo is shipped to California where it is heat-treated and then shaped.  It is a beautfiul bike weighing about 19 pounds.  Isn’t coveting a sin? Forgive me.

Structures like Soren Korsgaard’s woven house were conceived with the idea that it would be built in a region that does not experience extreme weather and fluctuations in temperature.  To build such a structure in Canada would be as useless as a sequel to ‘Speed.’ Worse would be to ‘Titanic.’ Disastrous at best.

SANS is a collaboration between designer Lika Volkova and Alessandro Devito.  The designs include womenswear made of sustainable fabrics made of bamboo (!) and silk.  The designs’ simplicity is so elegant that Pol Chambost’s vases look too embellished.

Bambu‘s decorations for the home give a very natural element to the modern household’s ambience.  The natural tones that their bamboo pebbles are subtle but do not go unnoticed.  Imagine having such pebbles in the bath, with white scented Diptyque candles for a relaxing Sunday night soak.

The idea of relaxation is hard to conceive, on any other day, but the last weeks have led me to contemplate such an idea.  Having the time to relax is definitely luxury.  Nothing says luxury like having the choices and then making the right decisions when buying.

I trust that you understand the underlying processes to having ‘sustainable’ materials shipped from afar.  It would be a better choice than to produce an unwanted sequel.  The chemistry between Keanu and Sandra is a one-time deal.  Has anyone seen ‘The Lake House”?

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Black is the New Green

(from the top: Karl Lagerfeld with his bear, Nouvelle chaise longue, a slab of granite, and Sam Mogelonsky’s The Archipelago. Visit her site here.)

Environmental awareness has everyone thinking: ‘What can I contribute to the cause?’

The green movement is revolutionizing the way we conceive and realize things especially structures. In architecture and environmental design, black is the colour of the new eco-awareness.

If used properly, a black interior in a southfacing room (or unit for condos) can keep down one’s heating costs. Why? Any black surface absorbs the heat during daylight hours and then, depending on the material, heat is released slowly for the rest of the night.

Why do you think you get hot when you are wearing that black t-shirt in July? Black pigment absorbs all rays of the light spectrum whereas white absorbs none! The light just bounces off! This is physics in action and my high school teacher would be very proud. I might not be able to explain quantum mechanics but I know that black is the new green. And it goes with everything.

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