DESIGN BITES SEPTEMBER

What’s got us thinking: We were mightily impressed by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard who last month gifted his US$3 billion outdoor clothing company to a charitable trust so that a substantial percentage of future profits will be given to climate causes. As Chouinard says, Earth is our only shareholder, and it seems businesses across the globe are following suit. Translated into a design movement, we increasingly see inventions that are created for ‘graceful longevity’ such as those making waves in this year’s Fast Company Innovation by Design awards. There are personal gadgets like the Fairphone 4 which uses recycled materials in its make-up, can be unscrewed to swap out the battery or display screen, and is guaranteed for a five-year lifespan (with software updates). There’s also a new tile collection from Kohler’s waste-lab (the Abstra Collection) made from 99.5% recycled sludge with designs that are abstract and a textural undulating surface. Plus, a vacuum cleaner that is made from 20% recycled plastics with modular components that can easily be dismantled, repaired, and recycled. To many, this might still count as a humdrum object of domestic drudgery, but it’s part of a growing family of world-changing, earth-sustaining homeware products and appliances. Here’s hoping it’s only a matter of a short timeframe before more big-name brands follow Yvon Chouinard’s impeccable lead.

What’s got us inspired…to go for a long walk up a hill! That would be the Maungawhau Tihi Boardwalk, designed by Isthmus Group. If you haven’t visited the Auckland volcano that is Mount Eden in the past few years, you’re in for a big surprise. Vehicles can no longer access the summit (tihi) and, instead, there’s an elegant, expressive boardwalk that steps up from the road to skirt a portion of the crater rim. Its design is both practical and beautiful: a series of stairs, with platforms made of timber and Corten mesh, float above the ground, turning this way and that in tune with the topography, and thus helping to prevent erosion. Subtly detailed steel handrails make it safer to ascend and descend, while the boardwalk allows a more immediate relationship with the terraces, pits and landforms of this former pā, it touches the land lightly. You’ll possibly need to catch your breath once you’ve made it to the lower summit? Luckily there’s an elevated wooden platform where you can sit, legs a-dangle over the edge, to admire the panorama across the city and the Waitematā Harbour to Rangitoto. All in all, a pared back but fabulous piece of urban architecture.

What’s got us excited: Semi Permanent celebrates its 20th year in Aotearoa in October 2022. At Box™, we believe that some solutions to our industry’s well-hashed issues may come from outside the profession so this annual event, which champions the ability of mindful design across various fields to change the world for the better, has a permanent place in our ‘must-do’ calendar. This year’s venue, the St James Theatre in Wellington, is an iconic one and its ornate, Edwardian baroque-esque interiors are the perfect foil to the futuristic thinking epitomised by a line-up of local and international speakers all of whom have made their mark in industries as diverse as fashion, architecture, brand identity, industrial design and investment, and who will all talk on the topic of perspective. For creatives the length of New Zealand, the event is an opportunity to turbo-charge the innovation centre of our cerebral matter that may have slipped into ennui during two years of the pandemic. Two highlights include: the co-founders of Human Person, production directors who work with artists such as The Weeknd and Billie Eilish; and ‘idea champion’ and industrial designer Danny Coster who will deliver a workshop that explores the value of intuition and memories in the creation of bold ideas. Hector Ouilhet, who heads Google’s Human Centred Innovation and Strategy, will be joined by Kiwi creative forces of nature such as peanut butterist Roman Jewell (of Fix & Fogg fame) and the ever-dynamic Karen Walker.

Check out more at: semipermanent.com

By Box
21/09/2022

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