HBL Material Analysis: Efficiency

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

This stool by Japanese designers h220430 is moulded from a single piece of rubber, shipped flat-packed and then ground up and recycled into new rubber products after a lifetime of use

WGSN-homebuildlife's latest report from materials expert Chris Lefteri focusses on rational design and responsible consumption. Efficiency can mean many things in the world of materials – from reduced product weight and energy usage, to streamlined manufacturing process and ultimately an easy, clean disposal.

Huge environmental challenges are forcing designers to think about how to unmake, as well as make, today's products. Consumers are equally placing increasing importance on buying products which are responsibly made, and after their use can be responsibly disposed of.

Short By Short, by Hironobu Yamabe for E&Y, uses the waste generated by the manufacture of the frame as its decorative contents

Designers are currently exploring a variety of efficiency avenues. Some advocate a drastic reduction in the number of products we consume, others envision a future where products adhere to zero-waste, cradle-to-cradle principles, with every material and component reclaimed again and again.

Nature is a big inspiration – a closed system where each part plays its role, providing just enough energy and raw material for something to be created, and efficiently disposing of the waste at the end of its life. Within this area of biomimicry check out Ask Nature, a Wiki-like resource on the subject.

Bedol's bedside alarm clock is powered by tap water, and only needs refilling once every 10-12 weeks
The full report, available only to WGSN-homebuildlife subscribers, looks at biomimicry and other approaches to design and material efficiency, from a new wave of rationalism and reductionism, to treating waste as a valuable raw material and lastly examining designs which aim to change consumers' energy usage habits for good.