Rethink Redesign - notes from Berlin

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I have the pleasure to introduce to you a design and ecological lifestyle enthusiast and a good friend of mine, Hanna Linkola. Recently she travalled to Berlin to source inspiration and to find out what recycle design is (you propably remember my posts series on Design Rules). To me (East) Berlin has always combined recycled fashion, design and architecture effortlessly. It is not a coincidence that Etsy set up their first European office there.. Anyways, over to Hanna.

(btw, the top photo is from a concept hotel called Huttenpalast)

Rethink / Reuse / Redesign
by Hanna Linkola

"One of my missions in Berlin was to find examples of good, functional and truly innovative eco design. The problem with Finnish eco design is that the range of products is often limited to accessories which to my functionalistic eye easily seem unnecessary. How many bags or purses does one really need? Using waste material is good but that doesn’t give the designer a permission to design something people don’t really need. Quite the contrary: using recycled material should obligate the designer to create something better than we already have.

Another problem with eco design seems to be the occasional lack of professionalism and poor finishing. As if every DIY person would be a professional designer the same way as everybody who has uploaded Photoshop to their computer would be a professional photographer. I have absolutely nothing against people doing things themselves but, let’s face it, a pro is a pro.

What did I find then? Nothing less than the Ambassadors of Design. What grew up to be my favourite stand in the DMY Fair was built up by Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design, a non-profit group of enthusiasts from Hong Kong’s design community. The stand presented examples from 10 young designers displayed in a suggestive, tiny 45 sqm ”apartment” drawn between ”greenery” and ”water front” – reminiscent of the topography of Hong Kong Island and the compact living of Hong Kong people. Here are my favorites.

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As a great music lover I fell immediately in love with Kevin Cheung’s Boombottle, a speaker system build into wasted vinegar containers. They are air sealed, water proof and carry a LED light inside but, most of all, the sound is great. They have a side pocket for the iPod and the bottle top serves as a volume button.

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Coming from a land of so many dark winter months it’s no wonder the question of sustainable lighting is often on my mind. KaCaMa Design Lab offered two beautiful solutions to bringing joy to that dull November evening: Living Pixels and Eggy Candle. Taking recycled advertising banners as the Living Pixels project’s starting point, the designers gave three-dimensionality to the material by cutting it into small pieces, turning them inside out and combining them together to create volumes of light and texture. The result is a balloon shaped piece of lighting which is white when not in use and colourful when the light is turned on.

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Seeing countless eggshells being discarded in food production the KaCaMa designers found an opportunity to create a simple yet fun Eggy Candle. The eggshells are collected from a local bakery, washed and cleaned. A small hole is then made in the shell and heated wax poured inside. The candle’s special shape allows it to float on water, for example in a glass or your bath tub.

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In search for sustainable and innovative fashion design, Kenny Li saved my day. His FAVE collection offers a fresh way of looking at neck ware by turning the collar into neck assessory instead of merely a part of a garment. FAVE products are made of sample materials and left over fabrics collected from factories and suppliers. They are also handmade to create uniqueness and limited availability. These were my favorites. The one with the text is made out of magazine dating ads – something different to wear for a first date or a wedding.

In general it was refreshing to see how living so close together seems to be forcing the designers in Hong Kong to design better, more useful and more sustainable products. They also seem to have fun doing so. I highly recommend we concentrate in creating the same mind set here in Finland."

Top photo via DvB Travel.

Outi Les Pyy

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