There has been a fine set of programmes on the BBC recently entiled The Genius of Design” – design-history of the C20th with a bit of “wither design in the C21st” thrown in. Very thought-provoking they were too.
The final programme mentioned a concept called “cradle to cradle”. This accepts that rapid fashion cycles are “good” (or at least inevitable) in the modern world but seeks to defuse the trash-timebomb by designing things to use materials that are genuinely recyclable. The “genuinely” means that used-up items do not have their constituent materials ground up together into a lesser material (think wood to paper to grey pulp) but rather use materials that may be recovered in the same quality as when they went into the recycled object.
In addition, tha materials used are also non-toxic and can be “returned to the soil” with nil ill effects.
Of course, the obvious example is wood. But there are apparently even a number of modern plastics that meet these “resusable forever or return to soil” parameters.
So I wonder…..
What are the design parameters that could inform furniture design if the pieces are to meet these criteria: all parts resusable and expected to be so-reconfigured every few years. Some might say, “Ikea”! But that chipboard stuff is more down-cycled than recycled, soon in a landfill – maybe after just it’s first generation as furniture.
What styles of furniture and materials would be reconfigurable ad infinitum? If the material is wood, the designs can’t be too frou-frou, as this severely limits its re-use. I recycle a lot of old furniture into planks for my own furniture. Even with the squarer/flat stuff, there is often a significant percentage lost to the waste bin.
Perhaps one tactic would to start up a market for reuse of even small offcuts. Custom knob makers co-operative maybe…..