Energetic Design

Five stylish eco designs that take used or embodied energy to new heights

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Most people of an honest ilk admit to wanting more. More time, more capital, more information, more possessions. And thanks to sustainably minded designers and energy-saving devices, consuming more can sometimes be achieved with less. Here’s a round-up of five eco designs that are not only energy-smart but stylish, too.

Eco designed chair by Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven
Chair in ‘palm leather’ by Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

The eco designed Palm ‘leather’ collection by Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Based in the Netherlands, Tjeerd Veenhoven designed a collection of furniture, rugs and accessories made using fallen palm leaves or husks of the areca betel nut tree, which are dipped into a biological softening solution. The result is a sustainable, compostable, leather-like material – soft and flexible – that can replace animal leather, plastic and rubber in many cases, vastly reducing the energy (and environmental destruction) used to make these materials.

“All our palm ‘leather’ products are manufactured without the use of oil-based adhesives and solvents – this makes all the difference,” says Veenhoven. The designer is working to address the issue of waste as well as our perilous perception of the subject.

“I believe that the terminology ‘waste’ is a big part of our problematic consumer behaviour,” he says. “In the future we should not have to label any by-product or used product as waste, it should be a resource for the next.”

Eco designed lamp by Edwuard Barber and Jay Osgerby for Louis Vuitton
Solar-powered Bell Lamp by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby for Louis Vuitton

Solar-powered Bell Lamp by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

Designed by British-based Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby for Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades collection, the solar-powered Bell Lamp is another example of eco design that combines the fashion house’s traditional leitmotif of luxury travel with advancements in renewable energy.

“It is handmade in Venice by glass experts and then assembled with pioneering technology to allow it to be recharged by sunlight, as well as conventionally,” say Barber and Osgerby. “First came an exploration of the technological possibilities to ensure that the lamp was both portable and sustainable. Ease of carriage and the way the lamp’s solar and lighting technology works informed the shape.”

The hand-blown, frosted Murano glass casing shrouds the inner solar module and gives the LED lamp a gentle glow. The Bell Lamp has four brightness settings and is cordless, but comes equipped with a discrete USB-charging port in the base for a back-up power source.

Eco designed pieces by Bentu Design
Terrazo Collection by Bentu Design

Terrazzo collection by Bentu Design

“Foshan in China is home to one-eighth of the global annual output of ceramics,” says Holiday Lau of Bentu Design. “At the same time, it has to bear the environmental pollution brought about by four million tonnes of ceramic waste per year.”

In an attempt to reduce this vast and ever-increasing waste, 60 percent of each eco designed piece in Bentu Design’s Terrazzo collection comprises shards from discarded ceramic tiles. “Terrazzo was the most common material applied on floor tiles in socialist China,” says Lau. “It has witnessed the rapidly changing society, it went through the climax of social transformation, it accompanied those who were born in the ’80s.”

In 2018 the company began experimenting with repurposing leftover stone aggregate. What began as an attempt at reducing waste has since, according to Lau, “become a duty and a kind of faith” to pay homage to a material that’s bound up in China’s centuries-old ceramics industry and culture.

Eco designed stove by Vuurs
Wood-burning stove by Vuurs

Energy-efficient Vuurs II wood-burning stove by Vuurs

The environmental credential of wood-burning stoves is a subject of hot debate, but cleaner and eco designed models with efficiency ratings over 90 percent are now available, one of which is Vuurs II.

“All Vuurs stoves have a Yocoon fire kernel – only four kilograms of wood is enough to give 20 to 22 kWh, or eight to 10 hours, of radiant heat,” says Maarten Kraanen who invented Yocoon’s combustion technology. “At first the temperature rises to 500 degrees, like in a conventional stove. But then there is a second combustion with temperatures up to 1,200 degrees.” This additional oxygen infusion means Yocoon’s two-stage combustion technology produces extreme heat with minimal fuel consumption and harmful emissions.

“Depending on the degree of insulation in your home, it can warm a room of 30 to 45 square metres,” says Kraanen. “If a house is very well-insulated, the space can even be bigger than 60 square metres.”

Eco designed roof tiles by Tesla
Solar roof tiles by Tesla

Solar roof tiles by Tesla

While photovoltaics are still a rapidly advancing frontier, the aesthetics of solar cells have undoubtedly come of age. Tesla, best known as a pioneer of electric cars, has unveiled its eco designed solar roof tiles in four different finishes – slate, smooth, textured and Tuscan – which integrate with the company’s Powerwall batteries. Energy collected during the day is stored and made available when needed – a move that nudges homes one step closer to powering themselves off-grid.

Invisible solar cells are embedded in the tempered glass roof tiles, which Tesla report are three times stronger than traditional tiles and achieve the highest hail, wind and fire ratings.


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