Sustainability and design: love or dangerous liaisons?

Sostenibilità e design

Sustainability and design: love or dangerous liaisons?


Sustainability and design: what has evolved in the last 50 years?

“Nothing is originated, nothing is destroyed: however, everything collects and waits to be transformed”. In ’64 Vittorio Gregotti wrote about sustainability and design. Eight years later the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s study “The limits of growth” affirms: “assuming that the current line of development continues unchanged in the five fundamental sectors (population, industrialization, pollution, food production, consumption of natural resources), humanity is destined to reach the natural limits of development within the next hundred years…”. Over the last fifty years, the world of design has been questioning the environment; it has emerged that it is imperative to apply sustainable, low-impact systems to mass production. This to act decisively in some way.

Is it possible to find a balance between design, technology and the environment?

Many leading companies in the design field are now choosing a more sustainable approach: from the choice of recycled and low-impact materials to the use of reprocessed raw materials. Today designers are questioning about the product’s life cycle. They try improving people’s well-being and life. Today sustainability is a fundamental value in design: what seemed impossible in the 1970s is being achieved: finding a balance between design, technology and the environment. In fact, the idea that it is possible to live in accordance with the environment, preserving it for the future, has made its way into common thinking.

Three names in sustainable design

Arper, Noho and Dixpari are three top companies that have made sustainable choices.
For the Adell collection, Arper has opted to use recycled plastic: the entire concept has been designed so that it can be easily disassembled and then recycled in turn. The style and versatility of the seats make the collection a piece “to be handed down”, therefore adaptable to different interiors; this increases its durability. Arper’s Duna and Juno collections are also proposed in post-industrial recycled plastic. Noho, a New Zealand design company, has developed a seat entirely made of Econyl. The material, made by the Italian company Aquafil thanks to the recovery of fishing nets, old carpets and post-industrial waste, expresses the brand’s values of environmental sustainability. Econyl allows rethinking the design in a circular way, particularly it produces the end of life of the products a new beginning. Dixpari is a brand of Spa company that makes lamps by reusing excess material from the company’s production processes. The Alone and Macramè collections have distinctive shapes: each lamp is unique and therefore numbered. In this way what was previously considered waste comes back to life and becomes a unique work. An interesting example of sustainability.

What to expect from the future of design

As far as tomorrow’s design is concerned, we expect sustainability to become more and more a value in design; it is significant that the positive attitude towards sustainable design starts from consumers: each of us has the responsibility to make conscious purchasing choices; only in this way we can achieve a balance between industrial design and the environment.

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