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  • Mottainai ("What a waste!")

    Environment, Industrial Design


    "Mottainai" means "what a waste" in Japanese and was introduced by Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, in an United Nations conference. A very cute children's book called "Mottainai Grandma" is now available from Kodansha Publishing.

    My grandmother, who grew up poor in China, has her own version of "mottainai". As a kid, she would save the baking tins used for pies as plates and have us drink out of empty glass jars. We couldn't throw anything out nor could we leave any bit of food on our plates.

  • Real Recycling

    Poverty, Industrial Design


    Personally I find those design projects interesting that use used materials to produce usable products. Or - in other words: projects that give trash an added value.

    This pictures shows a board or shelf that uses stacking boxes that are used in industry and that have standardized measures. I found the picture on the website of Christiane Hoegner, a designer living in Brussels. I am sure there are many many more such projects - a lot for sure also on design schools worldwide.

    Using products for as long as possible is often the most sustainable way of usage. So extending their life by inventing a second use makes a lot of sense. I am sure that - sad enough - the best designers in those things are the people living in poor countries that depend on using things that they found in rubbish.

    So what we do can already be considered as decadent. But projects like Fernando and Humberto Campana's »Favela Chair« that was inspired »by the ad-hoc shelters which are built out mud, sand, scraps of wood, bricks and stones in the hills and on the fringes of urban expansion around Rio de Janeiro« (or in other words: inspired by the life of the very poor people on our planet) really are unacceptable.

    This chair, made »from the same wood used to build the favelas«, that is on sale for $ 2,985, really represents the image of the designer that probably many have and that unfortunately gains more and more truth: the stupid stylist that is creating one and another sofa or chair and who does ...

  • Service Design

    Well-being, Communication Design


    Again something for sustainabilty I forgot to mention:

    Of course the world would be much more »sustainable«, if we would not need to produce so many products. A way to achieve this would be the design of services that attract the user.

    For example, if public transportation would offer more comfort and joy, more people would do without their cars. Well - difficult area though. But let's take the drilling machine: the average person probably only uses it ten times a year - for maybe 8 minutes in total.

    A well-designed service could offer home worker tools on every corner - probably at the next pizza snack or the supermarket. »Using instead of owning« would be the motto for this.

    The picture shows Prof. Birgit Mager who is an expert on the field of Service Design on a conference in Pittsburgh. It was taken by Flickr user simonk. Seems she's also making a joke about the German »Bad Design« (bath design) in this moment. Good shot!

  • MIPS - Measuring Sustainability

    Environment, Industrial Design


    As we were talking recently about sustainability: the Wupptertal Institute developed a system how to calculate whether a product, material or service is sustainable or not. The MIPS (material input per unit of service) puts all energy, raw materials, waste and so on in a calculation in relation to the period of usage.

    Very interesting - there's a rather short explanation at Wikipedia. But the Wuppertal Institute also offers a PDF with a list of some materials for download. Because of the transportation factor the values are all geographically related.

    At the Köln International School of Design, where I studied, Prof. Horntrich used to give the example of the yogurt cup: the plastic cup is made in Poland, the lid is from Italy, the yogurt from France and the strawberries (if it's not some substitue made of tree rinds) are from Portugal. Everythings is then assembled in Germany. So it's thousands of kilometers the yogurt travels across Europe till it's finally in the shelf of the supermarket. Maybe the countries are not correct - but I think it's a good example for what has all to be considered to rate a product as being sustainable or not.

    The factors of humanity not even included! Because then it really gets complicated as there are different parties and interests that have to be considered. Difficult subject!

    (Picture taken by Flickr user Christian Watzke)

  • See My Blog on Blogspot

    Arts & Culture

    I have an existing blog at:

  • War and Peace Tools

    Arts & Culture, Audio/Visual Design


    Currently working on an installation of wartools and peace tools for an installation. Check them out at!

  • 我爱工设

    Arts & Culture, Fashion Design


    最喜欢的专业就是现在我所学习的工业设计。希望以后可以成为中国小有名气的工业设计师~为国争光哦~加油! 我的白度BLOG: 欢迎大家的留言!

  • Photography of Argentina

    Arts & Culture, Audio/Visual Design


    A short report of our trip to Argentina

    For more info :

  • Peace before war

    Peace, Communication Design



  • Fbartmarket_177_

    Do you believe in social change?

    Well, this group of designers + artists does. And to prove it they gathered their wares for the first annual Firebelly Art Market. Come and see all of the spectacular goods: fashion, stuffed friends, posters, cupcakes, music, accessories and more! Admission is free and 50% of all Firebelly Art Market sales will be donated to a Firebelly friend who is battling cancer.

    Handmade one of a kind goods from: Firebelly Design / Art School Girl / Good Night TV / Qylaar / Katie Hates Couture / Nako Design / Will Miller / Delicious Design League / The Match Factory / Travis Barteaux / Rick Valicenti / Kara's Super Cute Cupcakes / Barb Valicenti / Alex Moulitsas / Molly Carter / Ilsa Flanagan / Jess Weida / Drew Garza / Early to Bed / Brian Kelly (DJ)

    Firebelly Art Market Saturday, June 9th, 11am–5pm

    2701 W Thomas, 2nd Floor, Chicago IL 60622

    For more info: or 773-489-3200

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