LED Festival of Lights

The Festival of Lights in Ghent, Belgium, has the Luminarie Cagna Cathedral with over 55,000 energy efficient colored LED lights consume only 20kw per hour.

The LED Cathedral has both Romanesque and Renaissance architecture and reaches over 28m (92ft) high, and there are human powered electric producing bicycles to help kick-off the light show.

January 31, 2012

In Your Face Car Park

An Australia car park at Darling Point has been given a creative makeover by designers Craig Redman and Karl Maier, in conjunction, with a mural installation artist Edward Woodley from China Heights Studio.

The colorful geometric wall, floor and roof images definitely brightens up the space, but might give would be car-parkers a flashy perception problem when they park – and they may need to wear a pair of sunglasses when driving in the car park!

Visit: http://craigandkarl.com/

Via China Heights & FastCoDesign

January 31, 2012

Plastic in Marine Animals

I just read recently the BBC News article about microscopic plastic particles that have been found in marine animals, including the fish we eat, and then they end up inside us. Where does all this plastic come from? From those discarded plastic bags of course, all that trash that gets dumped in the ocean or washed out to see or partly burnt and blown away, and that really obnoxious polystyrene shipping foam that breaks into little balls. Much of that plastic photo degrades into smaller and smaller pieces, and has been written about before.

But this microscopic plastic contamination is different, it comes from the synthetic clothes we buy, wear and wash! The research is published in the Journal Environmental Science and Technology, and shows that 1,900 tiny fibres come off each item of clothing and into the water that gets flushed away.

“Research we had done before… showed that when we looked at all the bits of plastic in the environment, about 80% was made up from smaller bits of plastic,” said co-author Mark Browne, an ecologist now based at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a member of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, USA

Other research shows that plastic particles less than 1mm in size get eaten by animals.

“Once the plastics had been eaten, it transferred from [the animals’] stomachs to their circulation system and actually accumulated in their cells,” according to Browne’s interview with the BBC. At 18 beaches around the world the researchers found evidence of the microscopic plastic particles. They tested city sewage discharge and looked at the outflow from washing machines and clearly showed the microscopic plastic was coming from water discharge from washing machines.

“It suggests to us that a large proportion of the fibres we were finding in the environment, in the strongest evidence yet, was derived from the sewerage as a consequence from washing clothes.”

I remember (unfortunately!) that back in the 1970s and 1980s there was a big push to buy synthetic clothing, including polyester shirts (that really got very sweater, stained and stunk), nylon/polyester bed sheets that gave you a million volt shock every time you pulled back the sheets, and the countless sock, trouser, jacket, glove and scarf that came in a combo of synthetic textiles. Most of them made my flesh creep and it sends a shiver down my spine even thinking about it.

Is it any different today, I don’t think so, probably much worse as there seems to be an ever increasing mix of spandex, latex, viscose and whatever other funky fabric combo they dream up. And have you ever wondered where all those little fibrous and dusty bits go when you shake out your clothes – even if they have been in a drawer or wardrobe or just washed. Then there is the laundry soap, with activated chemical scrubs and a whole bunch of sulphates, phosphates, benzyl, softeners, whiteners, anti-microbials, and more…!

Now I only buy, as best I can, only organic cotton, wool, and natural fabrics, and use the most benign clothes washing detergents. My clothes last longer (I’m not a dedicated follower of fashion!), they look clean, I don’t think I smell (!) and I don’t get zapped by a million volts every time I get into or out of bed or walk across the room in my organic cotton/wool socks.

Trevor Williams is a University of Victoria Mechanical Engineering PhD candidate specializing in renewable energy, power grid modeling and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. He has a bachelors in Aeronautical Engineering, a Masters in Management Science and over 23 years international experience in the space industry, having worked on Earth observation and telecommunications satellites. He is the author of the Eco-Geek blog.

January 29, 2012

Wall Street/Cortes Island

Sometimes the world of high finance and the centers of capitalist accumulation can seem a long way away from us here on this far-flung coast.

Then, at other times, the world becomes very small. Brookfield Asset Management—a corporation with investments in the real estate market and resource industries—has achieved notoriety recently for evicting Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park, which the company owns. A seemingly distant and nebulous embodiment of the sort of wild real estate speculation that brought the financial industry to its knees in 2008, Brookfield is now making its presence felt in our own British Columbian back yards.

Brookfield owns Island Timberlands, which is about to log old growth forest on Cortes Island, an area comprising much of the last remaining 1% of the original ancient Douglas Fir forest that once blanketed the coastal region. This is a clear and blatant example of ecological destruction in the name of excessive profits—old growth forest sacrificed for the out-of-control growth of the market economy.

Brookfield boasts $150 billion in assets. Their website touts that “Turnaround investing is in Brookfield’s DNA.” This means that Brookfield is in the business of buying up underperforming companies and wringing quick, short-term profits out of them. The profits to be gained by logging Cortes Island are a mere drop in the bucket for a corporation this size—and yet that isn’t going to stop a machine built to extract profits at any costs, from any place, no matter what the consequences.

We don’t think the last 1% of old growth Douglas firs should be used to help line the pockets of the economic 1%. We call upon all concerned to stand in solidarity with the Ancient Forest Alliance and the residents of Cortes Island. We stand in solidarity with a view of the world which would hold economic and ecological concerns in balance, and which would not sacrifice our environmental future for short-term profits today.

Logging is slated to begin in the coming weeks but the people of Cortes Island are organizing to oppose Brookfield and Island Timberlands, and members of Occupy Vancouver will be joining them in direct action. Together we can save what remains of the coast’s old growth forests. Together we can say no to Brookfield. As the saying goes, another world is possible. But only if we don’t completely exhaust, despoil, and destroy this one first.

Please sign the on-line petition: http://www.ancientforestpetition.com/

Stephen Collis is the author of four books of poetry, the most recent of which, On the Material (Talon Books 2010), was the recipient of the 2011 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Forthcoming books include A History of Change (vol.1): Dispatches from the Occupation (Talon Books 2012) and To the Barricades (Talon Books 2013). He teaches poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University, where he is a 2011/12 Shadbolt Fellow; since October he has been involved in Occupy Vancouver, writing for occupyvancouvervoice.com.

January 29, 2012

Algae Powered Planes

Cheaper algae aviation fuel is about to become actualized, if the work done by University of Sheffield Professor Will Zimmerman, and recently published in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering becomes a commercial reality.

Flying planes on algae oil has been around for a few years, but it is expensive because the algae need removed from the water. By providing microbubbles to bring algae to the pond surface, it may be cheaper to harvest, and their micro-bubble maker uses a 1,000 times less energy than other versions.

“.. we used microbubbles to grow the algae more densely,” professor Zimmerman explained. “…algae biofuels still couldn’t be produced economically, because of the difficulty in harvesting and dewatering the algae. We had to develop a solution to this problem and once again, microbubbles provided a solution.”

Via BusinessGreen

January 28, 2012

It’s Time to Fight Back by Bill McKibben

It’s time to fight back. Prime Minister Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver are waging a dirty campaign to discredit anyone who is opposed to burning the oil sands or building Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Dear friends in Canada,

I’ve been visiting Canada all my life, but I’m a little worried about my upcoming trip.

In late March I’m supposed to come to Vancouver to give a couple of talks. But now I read that Joe Oliver, your country’s Minister of Natural Resources, is condemning “environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block” Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline from the oil sands of Alberta to the Pacific.

I think he’s talking about people like me.

So I’m pushing back a bit, and I need your help. Let’s tell Joe Oliver that preventing the combustion of the second-largest pool of carbon on the planet isn’t “radical” — it’s exactly the opposite. It’s rational. It’s responsible. And it’s just plain right.

Click here to sign the petition to Prime Minister Harper and Joe Oliver, and help show that Canadians everywhere are committed to stopping the oil sands.

Here’s the thing: I’ve spent much of the last year helping rally opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline from the oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico. I was arrested outside the White House in August, and emceed the demonstration that brought thousands of people to circle the White House in November. And just yesterday, I helped lead a crew of hundreds of “climate referees” to blow whistle on the influence that Big Oil has over our democracy. But this fight knows no borders, which brings me back to my concern about my trip to Canada in March.

When I come to British Columbia, I’ll urge everyone I meet to join a growing movement standing in solidarity with First Nations Peoples across Canada who oppose Enbridge’s Gateway’s project. Since a majority of Canadians, according to the polls, also oppose the pipeline, I’ll be in good company. But Oliver, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the organizers of the “Ethical Oil” campaign don’t want any outside voices. As the latter explained on its website, “It’s our pipeline. Our country. Our jobs. And our decision.”

Fair enough. But you know something? The atmosphere belongs to all of us. There’s not some wall at the 49th parallel that separates Canada’s air from everyone else’s. Since the oil sands is the second biggest source of carbon on the planet, that makes their development everyone’s business. As NASA’s James Hansen, the planet’s premier climatologist, put it recently, if you heavily develop the oil sands, it’s “essentially game over for the climate.” That’s why I’m doing everything I can do to build this movement — and that’s why I need your help to unite a groundswell of activists in Canada.

Add your name to the petition saying you’re ready to take a stand to stop the oil sands — if we can get 10,000 Canadians to sign on, we’ll stage a high-profile delivery that Joe Oliver, Prime Minister Harper, and the oil companies won’t be able to ignore.

It’s much easier for Ottawa to pretend that anyone who raises doubts about the oil sands are ideological extremists who hate Canada, much easier to demonize the scientists and citizens who ask uncomfortable questions. You can judge for yourself, but I don’t think I’m some kind of extremist. I’m a Methodist Sunday School teacher who happened to write the first book for a general audience on climate change.

To me, the extremists are the ones running the oil companies, because they’re willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere; those of us who want to keep the planet a little like the one we were born on seem more like conservatives.

I know I don’t hate Canada. I spent five years living in Toronto as a young boy, while my father worked for Business Week magazine. I remember with great fondness Mrs. Reesor, Miss Beer, Miss Conway and Miss Wright, who taught my first four grades. I remember rooting for Davey Keon, the Toronto Maple LeafsCentre, and I remember waiting with great impatience each summer for the CNE to open.

In later years I’ve traveled the country stem to stern, written about fishermen struggling in Newfoundland, hiked the mountains above Jasper, skied the trails of the Gatineau. The Canada I remember was open to the world: It welcomed the rest of the planet to Expo 67, it hosted the Olympics, it helped crack the Great Wall of China.

I don’t know how that changed, but my guess is that the wealth of the oil-sands had something to do with it. Canada’s government doesn’t want to hear from the rest of the world because paying attention to their legitimate fears might cost it some money.

To judge from Oliver’s nasty little letter, those vast pits of bitumen across Alberta aren’t just dirtying the sky, they’re starting to do some damage to the country’s soul.

Help start to undo that damage, and sign on today.

Onwards,

Bill McKibben via www.350.org

P.S. If we’re going to have any shot at stopping the wholesale burning of the oil sands, we’re going to need a massive movement of Canadians willing to take a stand.

Sign the petition to help build a groundswell of Canadians who are ready to stop the oil sands:

www.350.org/canadian-groundswell

January 28, 2012

Shanghai Sphere 2046

The future of transport is rapidly changing as evidenced by the concept design by German designer Oliver May. In his vision of the future, exploding populations intersect with the imperative need for sustainable mass transport.

May’s solution is called the Shanghai Sphere 2046. The geometric sphere electric transport modules are gyro-stabilized electric drive powertrain via an ultra cool design feature using the inertia of a spinning wheel. Remote passenger control with GPS is used instead of a conventional steering wheel and dashboard. A transparent doubled shell forms the outer body using carbon fiber and titanium, with ball bearings on the exterior body to support the drive system. Four people can be carried and a power generation concept by Nicola Tesla will provide external power.

Linking the spheres together can create a public transportation vehicle, especially when they are mounted on low friction travel tracks, freeing up city space and offering emissions-free travel.

Visit: http://www.michelinchallengedesign.com/

January 27, 2012

Tillandsia Plant Earrings

American artist Kara B. takes tiny succulents and turns them into wearable works for art in her toHOLD creations. With stainless steel posts, the earrings can be kept alive by rinsing them under water periodically. In addition to her ultra-green earrings, she also makes a multitude of mesmerizing miniature plant artworks.

toHOLD is botanical decor designed with live tillandsia air plants out of my downtown LA studio and garden,” explains the artists’ Etsy site

January 27, 2012

Skyphos Chandeliers

The fabulous Skyphos Chandelier mimics a luminescent deep-sea creature in the way it glows and has tendrils trailing from its streamlined body but it is actually a glass chandelier lit by energy-efficient LEDs.

Czech designer Kateřina Smolíková, a student at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, used glass blowing and glass casting to make her lighting sculpture, which is designed to provide subtle lighting in alcoves or to provide subdued lighting, creating a rather unique ambience with its artistic design.

Visit: Katerina Smolíková

Via Design East

January 24, 2012

Tree Ring Record Player

German artist and inventor Bartholomäus Traubeck has created an amazing record player that allows you to play the growth rings of sliced tree trunks. Created from an old record player, with a few new innovations added (including a PlayStation Eye Camera, stepper motor and a computer), Traubeck’s design allows tree lovers to ‘hear’ the sound of the inner workings of a tree.

The music is rather lovely, listen here:

January 21, 2012

Mini Pothole Gardens

London-based guerrilla pothole artist Pete Dungey, in conjunction with artist Steve Wheen, has created some amazing tiny garden installations in the cracks and crannies of Oxford’s pothole-filled streets.

With a desire to draw attention to the lack of greenspaces in urban environments, as well as highlight the growing pothole problem, the artists have created mini dirt worlds complete with a variety of plants, tennis courts, picnic blankets and even mini lawn chairs.

January 21, 2012

Largest Welsh Solar Project

Wales based Dulas, a commercial subsidiary of the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth, mid Wales, the United Kingdom, have recently installed the largest solar power project in Wales, at the National Trust’s Grade I listed property in Llanerchaeron.

The new installation generates a peak output of 37.5kW and works with an existing installation of 7.5kW of solar photovoltaic power, supplying half the power the National Trust house consumes.  The Llanerchaeron house is an 18th-century Welsh gentry estate with walled gardens and home farm. The villa was designed in the 1790s, has its own service courtyard with dairy, laundry, brewery and salting house, and walled kitchen gardens, ornamental lake and parkland. The farm is a working organic farm with Welsh Black cattle, Llanwenog sheep and rare Welsh pigs.

The National Trust has committed to reduce their fossil fuel use by 50% within eight years, cutting carbon emissions from heat and electricity by 45%, beating the government’s target of a 34% reduction in CO2 by 2020. The Trust will also reduce water use and develop its own energy sources such as biomass.

Wales is not synonymous with sunshine, in fact it is just as likely to be raining, foggy, overcast or windy and stormy, as it is to be sunny, but this also gives Wales its natural beauty and it’s a people a sense of humor. Let’s hope a big ray of sunshine illuminates the Dulas installation and make it a resounding success.

Visit: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/llanerchaeron/

Via Dulas

January 21, 2012

Tiny Inflatable Home

Basque designer Martin Azua has come up with an amazing design for a small scale portable home that is also inflatable.

Dubbed the Basic House, the metallic polyester prefabricated house was designed to be easy to assembly while also be low impact and lightweight. When needed, you simply inflate the tiny dwelling, enjoy the comforts of having a comfortable place to rest or sleep and disassemble when not in use.

Perhaps the most ingenious part of the design is how both internal warmth from human bodies and the external heating from the sun transfers through the material, creating a warm insulating layer inside.

Visit: http://www.martinazua.com/

Via Inhabitat

January 21, 2012

Monsanto Sucks T-shirts!

If you know anything about Monsanto then you know they suck. My personal opinion is that they are one of the most psychopathic, dangerous and controlling companies on the planet. But, ironically, in spite of their might or because of it, they keep an extremely low profile in North America where many of their genetically engineered crops are grown.

I am not big on conspiracy theories, but I find it surprising that there is so little coverage of Monsanto in our mainstream media (and so few people know who they are) when genetically engineered organisms remain an extremely hot and controversial topic in countries like India, Hungary, Haiti and the European Union. Mass protests, crop burnings and direct resistance against Monsanto is happening on a global scale, but we hear almost nothing about it in North America.

If you don’t know who Monsanto is, you need to get up to speed– there is a great movie called “The World According to Monsanto” by French filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin (available on YouTube in its entirely) and our filmmaker friend Jeremy Seifert, (director of the amazing Dive! Living Off America’s Waste) is also in the process of making a documentary about genetically modified organisms.  The current working title is The GMO Film Project (Untitled). If you are interested in supporting Jeremy’s work then please contact him as they need supporters to help finish making this important film.

January 21, 2012

African Root Beer

SABMiller, a large worldwide brewing company, makes Impala Beer from local African ingredients using a mobile Dutch processing unit (from the Dutch Agricultural and Trading Company, DADTCO).

The locally grown cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a woody shrub that has a starchy root that is high in carbohydrates, it is also used to make tapioca. It is a major food source in the tropics and SABMiller buys and processes the cassava locally too.

“By creating market opportunities for subsistence farmers in our value chains, we are able to increase their productivity, allowing them to feed their families and generate an income for the first time,” explained Andy Wales for SABMiller. The company is currently buying cassava from more than 1,500 smallholders.

Andy Wales implements SABMiller’s Ten Sustainable Development Priorities; identifying social, economic and environmental issues within the group’s strategies and business plans. This covers areas of risk such as water scarcity as well as areas of opportunity such as promoting local economic growth through smallholder farming.

It seems the beer also tastes good according to Wales. “It’s excellent, not too dissimilar from a regular lager. It looks exactly like any other beer – golden and sparkling with a foam head.”

A locally sourced beer, that encourages smallholder farmers to grow a commercially useful crop sounds like a great idea! But, how’s the hangover?

January 19, 2012

Clearcut Forecast: Cortes Island

Long considered “socially inoperable” due to local opposition, now the mixed-age forests of Cortes Island may be on the chopping block. A visit from Island Timberlands’ operations manager is described in vivid detail here. (The manager seems to be suffering from a touch of social operability himself.) Island Timberlands has offices in Nanaimo and Vancouver, but the company is now owned by Wall Street conglomerate Brookfield Asset Management.

Cortes Island is known as a cradle of the early Greenpeace movement and home to Hollyhock, the influential eco-wellness institute. Yet our forests are under threat. Islanders were notified last year that logging would begin in mid-January. Saxifrage says she is “cautiously optimistic” the efforts of residents and supporters will thwart that plan. Two groups, WildStands and Island Stance, are promising spirited protests if the logging goes ahead. On January 14, Ken Wu of Ancient Forest Alliance released a report on groves of rare old-growth trees on Cortes Island.

On January 12, 2012 activists Tzeporah Berman and Carrie Saxifrage delivered 6200 petition signatures to Brookfield’s corporate offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and Toronto, the Vancouver Observerreports.

The battle is just beginning, but the troops are gathering and many thousands of people are standing together in solidarity against the destruction of the Cortes Island forests.

Zoe Blunt is a well-known Canadian activist and writer and we hope to include more of her blogs in the future to keep people updated on the increasingly heated battle on Cortes Island to protect the forests.

Via ClearCuts.Blogspot.com

January 18, 2012

Dutch Book Portraits

In a bid to promote a love of reading during Dutch Book Week, the Collective Promotion Dutch Literature has come up with an extremely innovative way to promote local literature.

With each year featuring a different theme, this year the focus was on the autobiography (Geschreven Portretten) with writers like Anne Frank, Vincent van Gogh, Louis van Gaal and Kader Abdolah being celebrated and honored.

To pay homage to the writers, artist Van Wanten Etcetera created the amazing campaign to promote Dutch Book Week and literally show the faces of the people behind the literature.

January 18, 2012

Endangered Plastic Hippos

Talented sculptor and artist Ryo Shimura, a graduate of the Tokyo University of Art and Design, makes detailed plastic figurines of endangered species, highlighting how species are disappearing from the planet, due to “environmental problems such as deforestation, air pollution, warming…resulting in mass extermination”.

Shimura’s latest creation, “29000→600” represents the loss of hippos in the wild due to loss of habitat and poaching. His slumped-over pandas are particularly poignant, but his Meerkat crayons are tad more upbeat.

However, it does seem a little out of place to use plastic for the disappearing species since plastics, and fossil-fuels from which they are derived, often are a causal factor in stress on the environment and animal species – perhaps the use of a plastic as a medium is intended as an ironic statement.

Visit: http://shimura-ryo.blogspot.com/

January 12, 2012

Objet-O Privacy Chairs

Designer Song Seung-Yong re-invents the chair with his Objet-O Chair, which comes complete with an oversize lampshade and a light to create privacy in an increasingly “un-private” world.

Traditional Korean paper is used for the lampshade, but it is unclear how effective that would be at keeping out noise and the unwanted attention of your fellow human beings, especially as populations continue to increase and move to the cities. Finding a quiet place is increasingly difficult in urban environments so Seung-Yong’s chair might come in useful, particularly in busy offices.

“This is not a study of shape and function system, but a process of study which can draw out the communication between objects and human beings,” explains the artist. “I have memories that I made a den somewhere in my house as a child. My own secret space at the moment which was comfortable and protected, better than a huge mansion…”

January 12, 2012

World’s Largest Coffee Cup

Although I think the last thing our jacked-up, over-stimulated society needs is larger portions of java, the folks at McPhee’s Products seem to think bigger is better – particularly when it comes to caffeine.

The 6inch (15.3cm) tall, 10inch (25.4cm) diameter porcelain cup allows you to drink 20 cups in one sitting from what is probably the world’s largest coffee cup. The coffee cup sells for US$47.50 (€37.2).

January 10, 2012

Imaginative Living Art

Germany-based creative artist Walter Mason develops his artwork in nature, using leaves, trees, plants and water to create impermanent but thoughtful and powerful artistic visions.

Mason also creates intriguing structural art, in contrast to his nature-based work, such as his marble tracks.

January 10, 2012

Strange Seedpod Faces

These rather unusual looking seedpods are the work of Missouri-based artist Kelsey Pike’s Sustainable Papercraft. Made from recycled paper pulp and shaped into tiny faces, the artist reminds us that each tiny pod contains seeds that will grow into living plants. The seedpod faces vary in age, gender and race, with each filled with edible organic heirloom sprouts.

 

“To grow, simply soak in water for an hour or so, then place on top of soil, outside or in a pot. Within five days, you should have a little crop of sprouts to eat,” explains the artists’ website.

January 10, 2012

Children’s Book Clocks

For anyone with fond memories of their favorite childhood books, these Vintage Book Clocks from American artist Steven Gabriel will strike a nostalgic chord.

Made from old reclaimed books like Dr. Seuss classics, the books are transformed into simple handmade clocks. Although most of the clocks are ‘one-of-a-kind’, occasionally Gabriel does make more than one clock from a particular book title.

Prices range from US$35 (€27.4) to US$265 (€207).

Visit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/VintageBookClocks

Via Inhabitots

January 10, 2012

Steampunk Smartphone

Richard Clarkson, an industrial design student at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, created his steampunk rotary dial version of the Smartphone to counter the omnipresent digital world we live in.

The phone has two brass dials options, a rotary or a button one. Electroplated copper and paint jazzes up (or down, dependent upon your tech perspective) the phone itself.

January 10, 2012

Cool Cardboard Robots

CALAFANT, founded by inventor and creator Boris Schimanski, makes wonderful flat-packed cardboard cut-out toys that give your kids some great hands-on creative opportunities. CALAFANT (Cardboard Land of Fantasies) robots come in two sizes 50 cms (20inch) and 105cms (41inch) tall. They can be painted, and decked out with all sorts of add-ons to make the robots cute, techie or even aggressive.

According to CALAFANT, children’s creativity is highly important for their expression, needing paint, craft projects, model building and pretend play to experience and learn about their emotions. Making the models also assists in motor skill development, and is often just plain fun.

The models are made in Germany from high-quality, recyclable cardboard, with pre-cut and pre-punched cut-outs, so they can be assembled without glue and scissors. There are also castles, doll-houses, space-ships, pirate ships, cars, farms, treehouses and a whole lot more of exciting and imaginative cardboard toys are available.

Visit: http://www.calafant.de/en.html

January 9, 2012

eVolo Skyscrapers’ Book

The eVolo Skyscraper book stems from the eVolo Skyscraper Competition that started in 2006 to report on high-rise architecture. The Skyscraper Competition identifies the new ideas and phenomenal technologies, materials, aesthetics, and spatial design that go into modern skyscraper design. Today’s, and tomorrow’s skyscrapers are mini communities, decked out with the latest sustainable energy systems, and dynamically interact with their inhabitants and environment.

eVolo’s international panel of renowned architects, engineers, and city planners reviewed 4,000 projects from 168 countries submitted by professional architects and designers, students and artists. The eVolo Skyscrapers’ book takes 300 of these projects and wraps them up in a lavish book that deserves its space on the desktops of the world’s best design houses and schools.

An overview of the book:

Six chapters describe current and future vertical architecture and urbanism. The chapters include: Technological Advances (digital tools and computing fabrication), Ecological Urbanism (sustainable systems, new materials and clean energy generation), New Frontiers (colonization of new environments such as floating or underwater cities), Social Solutions (improved living conditions, social and economic), Morphotectonic Aesthetics (experimental architectural design with self-regulating systems responding to stimuli and Urban Theories and Strategies (addressing scarcity of natural resources and infrastructure impacts, and population growth).

The book is available in hardcover, 9×11.5x 2.5inch (22.3×29.2×6.4cm), with 1224 pages. There is a limited edition print run of 500 copies. The book costs US$240 (€189).

January 9, 2012

The Funky Human Slinky

Not entirely sure if there is anything green about transforming yourself into a giant human slinky, but it certainly is an amazing design innovation.

Created as part of the Florida-based Veniamin Oprea show, the brightly colored (and seriously fun looking) slinky costume is now available as part of a lease or franchise arrangement. Contact the company for more details.

January 7, 2012

The Lexus LF-LC Hybrid

Lexus just made hybrid vehicles a lot more sexier by showing photos of their new LF-LC Hybrid sports coupe concept which will be seen in the flesh at the Detroit Auto Show, January 9-22, 2012.

The sleek four-seater has already been labeled a hit for the show and is designed to raise Lexus’ profile as their sales have recently tumbled due to the bad publicity over the Toyota ‘sticking throttle’ problem and the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan which has affected production.

The LF-LC is sure to be full of the latest gadgetry, state-of-the-art regenerative braking systems and hybrid engine technology, all bundled up as the Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive.

Visit: http://www.lexus.com/concept/

Via North American International Auto Show

January 5, 2012

Plastic Airless Tires

Bridgestone recently revealed their thermoplastic resin plastic-spoke airless tire design at the Tokyo Motor Show, held in December 2011. The plastic tire is robust, flexible and can be recycled.

Airless tires are immune to punctures, and also make the spare tire less bulky to carry. The plastic tire design can currently carry 330lb (150kg) and is only 9inches (22.8cm) in diameter, so you won’t be slipping one of these onto your Prius just yet, though Bridgestone have been testing it on one-seat electric vehicles.

Visit: http://www.bridgestonetire.com/

Via Gizmag

January 5, 2012

Blinking City Maps

Blinking City, by Beijing-based Italian architects Marcella Campa and Stefano Avesani, is a re-interpretation of traditional city maps where the environments are constantly changing and growing. In today’s world, a city map is usually out-of-date by the time it is published, especially in fast growing and evolving economies such as China.

The Blinking City map is shown as a collage of several Hutong neighborhoods of Beijing, painted on the wall of a dilapidated courtyard house in Xianyukou district, at the Beijing’s city center. The images are just part of the Blinking City multi-media program, and the stencil wall art shows dilapidated and abandoned houses under demolition. Game designer Eric Zimmerman and architect Nathalie Pozzi, assisted in generating the color legends and their meaning.

Other media methods portray the changing city topology include lenticular discs, photographic records and video animation.

Visit: Blinking City Stencil

January 5, 2012

Another Side of Barbie

It seems to be only when we grow up and become adults that we realize the fantasy, the mythology, of the perfect world of Barbie just simply doesn’t exist. Her carefree life, complete with hunky companion Ken (who seems to have left for a younger model), driving around in a pink convertible, luxury motorhome and living in a Dreamhouse, is all a crock of shit.

Even worse for young girls, is the hegemony of the white, blonde, thin, big breasted, tiny waisted stereotype that they are taught they must somehow live up to.

Kudos to American artist Carrie M. Becker who shows us a very different and realistic side of Barbie – a place where her Dreamhouse has been destroyed, filled with a lifetime of hoarded possessions, including a filthy kitchen, and needing some serious TLC.

Rendered in perfect one-sixth scale handmade models, Becker has created an alternate universe Barbie world and carefully photographed this counter-ideology, offering young women a different view of the insidious cultural figure. A more real world Barbie is presented, perhaps taking some pressure off girls to live up to perfect ideals.

“I frequently watched shows like “Hoarders” and “How Clean Is Your House?” With that in mind, this past summer I began creating the images that are presented here, though I reflect their inspiration as a mirror and not a judgment,” her website explains. “For me, this series is about creating a small, but perfect world where the viewer cannot distinguish between what is reality and what is fiction.”

Visit: http://carriembecker.me/

Via Designboom

January 5, 2012

Green Rice Packaging

Just in time for Chinese New Year, Taiwanese-based company Green In Hand has designed a sustainable, low impact rice packaging for a New Year’s gift, called Together Rice.

Their packaging is made from recycled and recyclable craft paper, paper rattan and tissue paper, in a chemical-free process, using vegetable-based inks and water-based coatings and glue. The rice is from the Guan Shan Fan Taitung family, Yuli, Hualin County, Taiwan, grown under the watchful eye of organic rice farmer Tseng Kuo-chi.

Rice is a worldwide food source and tons of it gets delivered and eaten each day, so a sustainable packaging would be a great idea for larger rice packaging.

January 5, 2012

Wool Weaving Forest

An art installation comprised of animals wrapped in colored yarn is designed to help raise awareness about the environment and consumption. Entitled the Weaving Forest, the complex and interactive installation was created by Shanghai-based Super Nature Design to encourage members of the public to get involved by wrapping the two reindeer creatures in wool.

The exhibit helps the public connect to the environment by participating so they can “weave their own nature and plant a forest in their soul”.

“The installation is not only an insight to human relationships, respect and love for nature, but also a reflection on social responsibility and eco consciousness,” explain the artists.

Visit: http://www.supernaturedesign.com/

Via Trendhunter

January 2, 2012

Robot Vacuum Alarm Clock

Seoul-based designer Jeongmi Lee designed a domestic robot that pulls the duvet off your bed in the morning, vacuums the floor and then leaves a poo on the floor, a bit like a little puppy.

Lee wanted to design a home appliance that was not as boring as the usual microwave, or vacuum cleaner. So he designed the robotic vacuum cleaner to be a little more innovative and interactive in its behavior.

January 2, 2012