Collection: Part Two

Reflection (Wild)

Environmentally sustainable design – lecture - Tom


 Through this lecture I was able to recap the research I carried out at the Library and learn about some of the sustainability categories in more depth with some case studies. 

Here are my notes:


There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few.

Victor Papanek – 1971 wrote a book – ‘design for the real world’

Saw the role of design as critical in terms of continuing to design objects


Slide 2 – chart

Focuses on different productions in the industry.

Phones have the biggest negative impact on the environment.



  1. the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld or confirmed
  2. Environmental Science
  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Economic

What makes a product environmentally sustainable?




Not joining materials



Bhar clay cups

-not fired at too high heat; -cups are smashed back into the earth

 Yves Behar – Puma Fuse project – reduces packaging for footwear by around 70%

Can use red bag to carry shoes

Then, can be dissolved in water


Supply Chain

Supply of coca cola is an incredibly robust supply chain. Packaging placed in between coca cola bottles.

Kit Yamoyo by



Dieter Rams for Vitsoe

Interesting retail policy

On black Friday – shop is never open

Never reduce prices

Encourage customers to buy as little as they need


Useful Life

Cutch Oven by Le Creuset (Lifetime warranty)





What makes a product environmentally sustainable?

Consider the entire lifecycle of a product


Extraction / Refinement / Processing


The cost of materials?


-resources e.g. water



-by-products /emissions e.g. CO2

 Jeans – enormous process required



Smartphone – mercury, lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, bromine, zinc




 Microbeads are banned – small bits of plastic run down the shower, ingested by fish

Synthetic clothing fibres found in the ocean

Everytime synthetic clothing is washed in the washing machine small bits of fibre is drained through into the environment



Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

Find the COSHH data for your chosen material



Are your materials certified?

Sustainably sourced

Ethically sourced

 Crossover between sustainability and ethics



Do you need to use virgin materials?

Sea chair by studio swine – gathered plastic waste from the sea and made a stool

à not so much of the design itself but the story behind it


Use Less

Can we simply use less material?

What is an optimal amount?


Uses corrugated plywood – uses 70-80% less material



The cost of manufacture?

At every stage of the life cycle what are our inputs?


Less is more

Can we reduce the number of parts?

It is hard to sort the parts to recycle if made of too many parts / hard to disassemble

Todd McLellan


Chairfix – chair cut out using a single sheet of material.

What to do with the left over sheet material? In this case it is plywood, so it cannot go back into the machine.

With any product where we cut out from a sheet, how can we minimise the waste?



Can we make use of standard sizes, components or fittings?

Design to fit the standard sizes, so that you do not need to waste materials.

E.g. thicknesses of plywood.



Do we need to coat or impregnate parts with a finishing product?

Can we choose materials that don’t need finishing?

If parts do need finishing, can we choose processes that protect


Galvanize – zinc plating on steel.

Totally rust free.


Plastic – patterns can be etched into the mould, so that it doesn’t need finishing.

Aluminium – does not rust, it’s natural aesthetic is sleek.



How much?

Protection/ preservation vs. user experience

-Reusable packaging?


111 chair – uses 111 plastic bottles to make it


water sphere with algae – edible packaging!


Maybe the packaging is the product.

Is it necessary to have packaging?


Weight + Volume

Reducing size and weight reduces the energy needed to transport products.

Can we use tessellation?


Keep it local.


Design for Longevity.

Considering how long the products will last.

Baby In Table By Oji Masanori. Holds memory of your child as a toddler.

Can we design out premature obsolescence?

Design for Longevity: Manifesto

Plastic – the older it gets, the worse it looks


Right to Repair

Repair Manifesto

Companies trying to stop us from repairing



How much energy does the product require to operate?

Does it require energy when not in use?

Could we sequester renewable energy?

Are batteries rechargeable?



Heineken Wobo Beer Bottle doubles as a brick. à buy bear and donate the empty bottle to a building project.

Neck of the bottle tessellates.

Glass takes mortar.

Not particularly successful, but the idea is good.


Design for Disassembly

Coffee cups are very difficult to recycle as they use a layer of paper and a layer of plastic (lamination)

When they are put in with normal recycling, the whole battery have to be re-examined.


Ikea are designing new ways to join.

How permanently do we need to join things?

Some people think about gluing everything together, then pass through some sort of radiation and everything falls out.

Screws undoing with coins.


Polypropelene is a commonly used plastic. – e.g. Robin Day chairs

ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene – LEGO


Cradle to Cradle Certified

Positive look on recycling.

Deisgn products using safe, recyclable materials, that can be totally disassembled, that can go back into the supply chain.


Chair by Pentatonic

  • Uses waste plastic
  • Doesn’t look like an eco-product

Shoes by Stella McCartney Parley Ultra Boost


Because there is an trend an pressure on designers to appeal to the public and the industry with sustainable design, do you not think that there are


Disposed christmas tree

Ever since the beginning of this year, these two christmas trees have been disposed of and left in front of my flat. It had been annoying me every time I saw it. However, for the purpose of making a model for my idea it was perfect! I was able to thus source the material extremely locally. The pine has a very soft texture and aromatic smell to it. It was easy to shape in the workshop.




Queen's wood


Exploring context

Queens wood made me feel somewhat uncomfortable as I had not been surrounded by a  natural environment for a long time. I felt alien in the woods, in the expanse of trees with their heights towering above me, with the damp soil and chipped pieces of woods and leaves beneath, squirrels darting across the trees everywhere, and birds chirruping from all corners. 

I could see that the the council has managed the woods so that it seems completely natural, save some benches and bins. Even the barriers to mark the footpaths were made with logs or branches laid on top of one another, so that it fits with the rest of the natural environment. Perhaps it is this atmosphere that makes the animals be at ease, as the squirrels and sparrows seemed not to mind me as much as they normally do in more urban situations. They seemed very much comfortable in their 'homeground'.

There was some litter, which really upset the aesthetic and emotional experience of the woods. Next to one of the bins I saw, there was a plastic bag that was full of rubbish that was left there as it did not fit inside the bin, despite the warning notice that states not to throw too much rubbish away there pleading visitors to take their 'picnic' rubbish home.

Being in the woods made me really think about sustainability, biodiversity and the ecosystem. Though I felt like an intruder in the woods, I desired to 'fit in' with the rest of the creatures in the environment, and I wished to create a product that can aid people in doing so. As we are so used to products and places being tailored to human needs and desires and for specific human purposes, it was refreshing to recall that nature is designed not merely for humans but for many organisms to live in harmony.


Considering the sustainability materials research, I wanted to use biodegradable or locally sourced materials for this project. I thought about some of the logs strewn across various areas of the woods, and explored how this could be very easily manufactured through simple sanding or shaping whilst maintaining the 'raw' look of the logs so that they become seats that fit better with the aesthetic of the woods and also allow the seated person to feel more at one with nature. I decided to test this with a block of wood. 

Moreover, when observing people sitting in the woods, I saw how they kept their bags on their laps or next to them on the bench, and they often were occupied on their phone. This I thought was unfortunate as it distracts them from the mental peace the woods offers.  Considering ways this could be improved, I decided to drill a large hole through the test-piece bench to provide a slot for visitors to place their bags when sitting on the bench. It would be safe from the wet and dirt of the ground, but also out of sight so that the seated person may be encouraged to look around and enjoy the natural environment.

Sketch Modelling - Acorn Chair


Acorn Chair

When in the woods I longed to be close to the animals there. My childish senses were unleashed as I observed a squirrel gobble on an acorn. This thought, combined with the research of using less materials, for instance the honeycomb method as shown below, made me come up with the design of a bench made with acorn. Acorns are durable, hard and dense so I thought it would make a suitable biodegradable material.20180108_205901.jpg

As I hadn't collected acorns from the woods, Tom suggested I buy something from Sainsbury's of a similar shape, so I bought some pasta and tried sketch -modelling with it.

Unfortunately, the model shown below was proved to have difficulties in making, and may not be sustainable as it needs to use so much glue! The use of glue would also undermine the function of attracting squirrels. To achieve a particular shape using the acorn, a mould or frame would be needed but I could not work out how to attach the acorns together within that frame without attaching the acorns to the frame itself.

I sketched some other ways I could design a bench with the acorns for example by drilling through them and slotting them through a metal rod, but I dismissed this idea as it would cause too much work drilling each acorn and thus inefficient to manufacture.

Design Development

I decided I would like to use the logs from the woods as my main material. I explored the idea  of making a see-saw for families or children to have fun on. I wanted the handles of the see-saw to be of organic form - of a suitably shaped and sized branch, so that the user physically holds a piece of nature whilst balancing up and down on the see-saw. As the seats of the see-saw needs to be comfortable, adequately absorbing the shock of gravity, I researched a suitable sustainable material for this, and found bio-foam. Marjan van Aubel and Jamie Shaw explored ways of incorporating waste shavings into a chair design and discovered a foaming chemical reaction on mixing the shavings with bio-resin. The result was a lightweight mouldable material.



I felt this would be ideal to add to the see-saw panel to create seats. Through the company's website, I researched the making process of the bio-foam and tried replicating this with chipped pieces of wood in the workshop. Without bio-resin however, this was extremely difficult, and I ended up having to use some glue instead.

biofoam fail.jpeg


Final design development

Disappointed with the glue situation on both test pieces, I researched more materials and found that when recylced plastic bottles are melted, they can form stronger bonds than super glue. I was set on using this idea particularly as the recycling of plastic is the hot topic of today.

I experimented with various pieces of recycled plastic at home, including innocent juice bottles, m&s water bottles, buxton water bottles, ferrero rocher chocolate containers, milk bottles etc. 



On heating them, I discovered the aesthetic potential of these recycled plastics. 

It then re-occurred to me how unsightly the bins in the woods were, as they were made of metal, forced into a 'green' colour through coating to make it fit the environment. 

The transparency and waterproof quality of these recycled plastics could be combined with the locally sourced logs of the woods to make bins that aesthetically fit the context more. The plastic that protects the wooden bin which makes it more durable would serve as a literal reminder to users of how plastics can be recycled encouraging them to recycle more, and the organic aesthetic of the bin portrayed through the wood would hopefully serve as a plea to help protect the environment.

Reusing a disposed christmas tree