Shaped Like a Mushroom Cap, This Sustainable Pendant Lamp Is Grown from Fungi
Fungi isn’t usually something we welcome indoors, but Estonian studio Myceen sees home decoration a bit differently. Focusing on furniture and interior design products, the team has found an enlightening application for mycelium, the fibrous root-like system produced by fungus that spreads below the Earth’s surface and gathers nutrients. “B-Wise” is a sustainably-grown pendant lamp (you read that right!) that combines one of nature’s most resilient materials with recycled byproducts into a light fixture that looks like it was just plucked from the soil.
The production of each piece begins with combining organic waste materials like sawdust and straw into a mold along with the mycelium, giving the organism five weeks’ worth of food to promote expansion. After that, the lampshade is removed from the mold and dehydrated to prevent any further growth.
You can see more work from Myceen on its website and on Instagram. (via Yanko Design)
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Undulating Volumes of Rattan Wind Through the Interior of a Chiang Mai Gallery
In South East Asia where palm trees grow abundantly, rattan has traditionally provided a source of sustainable, affordable, and adaptable material for everything from homewares and furniture to sports equipment and crafts. Architecture firm Enter Projects Asia (previously) has transformed an art gallery in Chiang Mai, Thailand, by weaving a continuous, undulating form throughout the space. Winding from room to room, the structure provides lighting along the ceiling and drops to the floor to create three pods.
Known for its use of the thin, malleable wood that can be dried in long strips and shaped into sweeping, airy volumes, Enter Projects seized an opportunity to reinterpret the existing interior with the addition of warm tones and curving lines. “We sought to create an immersive experience, giving the space a warmth and depth uncharacteristic of conventional art galleries,” explains architect and director Patrick Keane. An important facet of the project was to embrace traditional Thai craftsmanship and materials with a focus on sustainability. “It is not hard to be sustainable in construction if we adapt to our environment. Why would we use synthetic, toxic plastics when we have all the noble materials right at our fingertips?”
You can explore more on Enter Projects’ website and on Instagram.
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A Five-Meter Magnifying Glass Uses the Sun’s Immense Power to Melt Metal
Anyone who spent time outside with a magnifying glass as a kid is aware of the instrument’s power to generate a staggering amount of heat and even start a fire when hit with sunlight. Designer Jelle Seegers harnesses that practice in a new project he presented as part of the Design Academy Eindhoven student show at this year’s Dutch Design Week.
“The Solar Metal Smelter” uses a square polycarbonate sheet that Seegers carved with circles to mimic the convex lens of a magnifying glass. Extending about five meters wide, the material is embedded in a frame made from upcycled stainless steel, with an attached hand crank that needs to be turned every ten minutes to keep the sun focused on the correct spot. Once heated, the smelter reaches up to 1,000 degrees Celsius and can liquefy zinc, aluminum, and other metals that are then poured into various sand molds. The designer estimates that the device generates about four kilowatts of energy.
In a conversation with Dezeen, Seegers shares that he produced the machine to reduce the reliance on electricity and to better utilize the sun’s power. He says:
Electrical solar panels, they never have an efficiency of more than about 20 percent. Only 20 percent of the sunlight gets converted into electricity, so we need a huge amount of solar panels to create a huge amount of electrical energy. But if you just take the sun’s heat, and you only bend it and direct it, you don’t need to do this complex conversion to electricity. And for that reason, you can achieve an efficiency of about 95 percent.
Seegers plans to scale up the project in the coming months and has been working on a variety of carbon-neutral machines, including the pedal-powered tool grinder shown below. For a similar solar-powered design, check out this sinter that uses sunlight and sand to make glass.
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Tropical Plants Sprout from the Mesh Facade of an Open-Air Factory in Vietnam
In an industrial park 50 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City, a 30,000-square-meter building demonstrates the possibilities of a more sustainable future for manufacturing. The Jakob Factory is a project between Rollimarchini Architects and G8A Architects, who designed the tropical oasis amid the largely concrete structures within the commercial area.
Plants cloak the porous three-story facade made of steel and mesh. Building vertically was a key factor in the project as it contrasts the conventional sprawling designs typical in manufacturing that require more land and greater disruptions to the local environment. The living features protect the interior from rain and harsh sunlight, offer natural ventilation, regulate the temperature, and help to purify the air from dust and other particles. Trees and grassy mounds also sit in a central courtyard, with the green structure surrounding the open space.
The sustainability-focused project received the bestarchitects 2023 award and was included in Dezeen’s 2022 shortlist.
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Evoking Coral, Grass Roots Are Grown into Compostable Garments and Functional Objects
Fashion is notorious for its astounding impact on the planet. Clothes are discarded within a few months in favor of the latest trend, cheap, synthetic fibers send harmful microplastics into the oceans, and waste from wealthier nations is often shipped to countries without additional resources only to pollute the local environments. As some designers try to steer the industry toward a more ethical, sustainable future, materials are often front of mind, including for Zena Holloway, who recently released a collection of garments and objects grown from grass roots.
Inspired by the sprawling, delicate shape of coral, Holloway creates soft, textured dresses, collars, lamps, and mobiles from wheatgrass seed. The plant sprouts over the course of about two weeks in beeswax molds. As it grows, it produces its intricately woven root structure, which the designer guides into specific spaces or allows to expand into large, sheet-like forms. Entirely compostable, the material is “both reality and metaphor, aiming to expose the beauty and vulnerability of coral and to champion ocean conservation,” and has the potential to be sewn into clothing or shaped into other functional goods.
The project, known as Rootfull, is ongoing, and Holloway shares a glimpse of her process in the video below. Follow her latest designs on Instagram. (via designboom)
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Industrial Fire Hoses and Bricks Are Upcycled into a Minimal Outdoor Furniture Set
Loretta Bosence and Ben Bosence are behind the East Sussex-based Local Works Studio, which recently completed a furniture collection focused on revitalizing what’s been discarded or cast aside. Designed for Maggie’s Southampton cancer center, the functional goods are made almost entirely of upcycled goods sourced nearby. “People who sit in the chairs and touch the surfaces can ‘read’ the story of the furniture and understand where the materials came from. This connection to place and the playful character of the furniture is a powerful antidote to the usual impersonal, sterile environment of a hospital,” the studio said to dezeen.
For the long dining table, designers crushed gravel from the site, which was also combined with damaged and leftover terracotta bricks from the center’s facade to create a terrazzo-style surface for benches and smaller tables. Ground granulated blast-furnace slag, a byproduct of steel, serves as the main binding agent, with only a bit of carbon-dependent concrete added. The studio also shaped leftover material into pavers for seating areas.
Hoses decommissioned by the local Hampshire Fire Service Headquarters—the entity is required to replace its equipment every ten years, meaning the red, water-resistant tubes are abundant in supply—were woven into the backs and seats for dining chairs, loungers, and one-armed models. The textile-like components were then wrapped around steel frames made by the charity Making it Out, which supports people who were formerly incarcerated.
For more sustainable, community-focused designs from Local Works Studio, visit its site and Instagram.
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