Design’s Eco-Evolution

We at CUR8 define tomorrow’s design as Smart, Healthy, and Made Here. To us, “healthy” means consideration for the person, place, and planet. While green, eco-friendly, and sustainable design principles have been around for decades, emerging innovation in materials and technology is shaking up the way we think about “healthy”. Here are a few of the trends we’re most excited about!

Radical Recycling

Recycled materials are going mainstream and new manufacturing techniques are delivering products as beautiful as they are earth-friendly. No longer do we have to sacrifice form for function.

Kim Markel Rocky Candy Glow Collection
Kim Markel, Rocky Candy Glow Collection

Products like Kim Markel’s rock candy-like Glow collection is handcrafted from a variety of recycled plastics. These plastics are blended in large molds, cured, and then polished to reveal their inherent translucency.

Ecopixel, Delta Line

Made in Italy, ecopixel® presents a new method for recycling plastics. Every product made with ecopixel® is unique as the plastics melt together in random patterns during the production process. The result is a fun, colorful, pixelated collection suitable for indoors and out.

Reform Studio Grammy Chair Cairo
Reform Studio, Grammy Chair

Based in Cairo, Reform Studio is “eager to create a better quality of life through design.” Beautiful, thoughtful furniture collections use their innovative Plastex material made from discarded plastic bags helping address the issue of waste in Egypt and around the world.

Officine Tamborino, No Smoking Chair

Recycling is not all about plastic. Officine Tamborino’s No Smoking chair is made from recycled paper. Applied to molds like cement, paper mixtures are slowly cooled and hardened to become the “skin” of the seat. Unique and ethical design.

Reusing discarded materials, or cleaning up our mess, is fundamental to sustainable design. Wouldn’t it also be great to use and produce less waste from the very beginning?

3D printing (more than plastic toys and prototypes)

There’s been a lot of buzz about 3D printing over the past few years and many of us have chuckled over some pretty dramatic headlines. In 2015 Forbes announced that “3D Printing is About to Change the World Forever” and just last year TechReady explained, “Why 3D Printing Will Save Your Life”. Both are bold statements about a manufacturing method that most of us still associate with plastic toys and rapid prototypes, but wait until you see what’s coming.

Like any other tech-driven innovation, it’s taking a little time for 3D printing technology to mature and barriers, like cost, to fall.  (Anyone remember the 1977 introduction of the VCR with a price tag of $5310 in today’s dollars?). While we’re not yet at the point of everyone printing their own kitchenware or furniture, we’re getting a lot closer to seeing the value (and beauty) of 3D printed products.

Mousarris, Wave City Coffee Table
Mousarris, Wave City Coffee Table

Great, so why are we talking about 3D printing in the context of eco-evolution? Because continued innovation in this space will enable us to produce beautiful, more earth-friendly products. Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is conceptually a zero-waste production method as it only “adds” required materials (in layers) to create a final product. Most traditional, or “reductive”, methods extract material from a larger source (think a bolt of fabric or sheet metal), leaving a lot of waste behind.

3d printed rugs from Plott Studio
Studio Plott, 3D Printed Rugs, Milan Via Lambrate

Many designers using 3D printing are also finding ways to feed the process with recycled materials, making this manufacturing method even more eco-friendly. CUR8 will continue to hunt down the very best 3D printed home goods so you don’t have to!

Biofabrication, living the dream

“We are entering a new material age,” says Suzanne Lee, founder of the Biofabricate organization. “It is driven by creativity, sustainability, and environmental responsibility. We are beginning to build materials using living systems.” Lee imagines a world in which future consumer products are designed and grown from biological organisms and she’s not alone.

Suzanne Lee, Biocouture

Meet Bolt Threads, “spinning the future of high-performance fabrics.” Bolt Threads is producing a new synthetic, protein-based spider silk — a transformational textile innovation. They’ve developed technology to replicate the strength, elasticity, durability and softness of natural spider silk sustainably and at scale.

Bolt Threads, Spider Silk Tie

The fashion industry seems to be taking the lead in this new material age, but it won’t be long before other sectors follow. Natural, “living” fabrics are not only compostable but the process for making them is inherently cleaner. When you consider that 20% of today’s water pollution globally comes from traditional textile manufacturing, this is a pretty exciting prospect.

We at CUR8 are looking forward to the opportunities ahead for home furnishings and décor and can’t wait to start bringing you the best in recycled, 3D printed, and biofabricated products!

Products Featured in This Story
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