Designers Boris Berlin and Poul Christiansen of the Danish design company Komplot, designed a chair that can be pressed into shape from a single piece of industrial felt. The felt is made from recovered polyethylene terephthalate–aka PET– from used plastic water bottles. Because of the fact that it’s pressed from a single sheet of felt and heated to permanently take its form, it has no need for any hardware, glues, or other additional reinforcements (thus its namesake).

The Nobody chair can be easily stacked for storage and also can be recycled in the future. I think it’s a beautiful design, not to mention very clever, but I am a bit skeptical about whether or not the manufacturing process is sustainable or not.


For my final sustainable bookshelf ideation, I wanted to break away from the conventional vertical orientation of a bookshelf. I began to investigate my options for different ways of interacting with the books as well as the orientation of the structure. Generally, bookshelves stand vertically and the books are placed horizontally along the planks, with books organized in a vertical fashion. This structure defies the standard bookshelf, first of all with its dynamic shape, and next, with the way the books interact with the product.

Originally, I considered using chair legs and arranging a frame by creating joints, then fabric would be used to support the books. However, if I take into account the amount of time I need to find the material and construct everything, it seems like I will be biting off a bit more than I could chew. Instead, I want to use layers of recycled cardboard for the legs of the frame, and the fabric would be tied to holes within the cardboard. Also, the directions of the legs will create a W shape, leaving the user with the option to use them as modular structures. The structure would also allow for users to place seats on top, thus transforming the item into a seating structure as well. Negative space on the underside also provides more space for storage, reflecting the idea of how a bookshelf no longer functions merely as a storage unit for books.

Gail Tverberg dives deep into the problem of an unsustainable present and offers solutions that promote a sustainable future for our planet and the people that will reside within it.

I came to realize all the more, how much this society thrives on consumption of materialistic goods. It scares me because I know that this materialistic society won’t be allayed any time soon. Rather, people will continue to crave the bigger and better things.

Our Finite World

We live in a world with very limited solutions to our sustainability problems. I often hear the view, “If we would just get off fossil fuels, then our society would be sustainable.” Or, “If the price of oil would just go high enough, then renewables would become economic, and our economy would be sustainable.”

Unfortunately, our problems with sustainability began a long time before fossil fuels came around, and the views above represent an incomplete understanding of our predicament. When fossil fuels became available, they were a solution to other sustainability problems–rapid deforestation and difficulty feeding the population at that time. Getting rid of fossil fuels would likely lead to very rapid deforestation and many people dying of lack of water or food. If getting rid of fossil fuels is a solution to our predicament, it is one with very bad side effects.

A couple of different events this…

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Edwin Datschefski’s work centers in on the development of sustainable design. His efforts towards striving for a more sustainable future have been very influential, especially with his founding of Biothinking International–a non-profit organization that works to train people about sustainability in design.

In his book, The Total Beauty of Sustainable Products, he provides valuable insight into what ‘sustainable design’ really entails. He provides a list of what factors qualify a product as being sustainable (all the better for a product to fall into more than one category).

Cyclic: The product is made from compostable organic materials or from minerals that are continuously recycled in a closed loop.

Solar: The product in manufacture and use consumes only renewable energy that is cyclic and safe.

Safe: All releases to air, water, land, or space are food for other systems.

Efficient: The product in manufacture and use requires 90% less energy, materials and water than products providing equivalent utility did in 1990.

Social: Product manufacture and use supports basic human rights and natural justice.

Datschefski also compiled a large number of sustainable products and included information about what makes those designs ecologically friendly.

Did you know? Only one in 10,000 products is designed with the environment in mind, as of 2001. I wonder what the numbers look like today.

Datschefski, Edwin. The Total Beauty of Sustainable Products. Crans-Près-Céligny, Switzerland: RotoVision, 2001. Print.

A4Adesign – cardboard furniture and fittings.

A4Adesign is a company based in Milan, who focuses on using exclusively recycled, recyclable and reusable honeycomb cardboard for their products. Architects Nicoletta Savioni and Giovanni Rivolta* run this firm that designs and builds not only furniture but also sets and display spaces in private and commercial areas.

*Thank you Paola Pescetelli for the correction!


Decades –

I love that sustainable design entails refurbishing previously discarded and unwanted items. WIS Design did just that by salvaging cabinet drawers from flea markets and placing them in new units to create this beautiful modernized cabinet.

Way Basics | zBoard.

Way Basics extends an impressive set of sustainable methods and materials that are helping shape the future. Their shelves are made of what’s called zBoard, 99-100% from recycled paper, that is toxin free and significantly lighter in weight than particle board. None of their products off-gas, and all of their materials are environmentally safe.

The modules can be put together with their special 3M super strong adhesive, leaving no use for additional hardware or any extra material.