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Koen De Winter

Saint-André-Avellin, Québec, Canada

professor Université du Québec à Montréal

Member since December 31, 2007

  • Needless to say that I agree on the damages done by our habit of bottling water. Most of the bottled water complies with the same standards as tap water and some of the major brands are actually tap water. I also agree on the need to stop all kind of green washing...even when it is done with clean water. What I do not agree with is the expectation that a 30% lighter bottle would automatically cost less. But first of all we should acknowledge that within a bad habit (bottling water) there are different responsibilities and the responsibility to recycle is with the end user. Nestlé and others can only point out that it can and should be recycled; the rest is up to us. It is unfortunate, but there are many, many PET bottles that are not recyclable for a simple reason: the label has been glued on to the bottle. It is one of these cases of lack of information down the production stages. The manufacturer of PET informs the moulder of the bottles that the PET is recyclable and the moulder passes on the same message to the bottler. The bottler expects to be entitled to pass on the message to the consumer, but by choosing to glue the label on or to print directly on the bottle he makes the re-cycling either difficult or impossible. Labels on any PET bottle should be shrink labels a wrap around label that tightens around the bottle when heated. Right now a minority of bottlers uses them and so only a small amount is recycled. One of the many things we have to learn in recycling is th...

  • I am surprised by both the announcement and the manifesto, Not because of its arrogant point of view but because it came so late. It has clearly taken some time for those architects to find out that we live in a democratic society and that a democratic society endangers the survival of any and all authority based professions and institutions. Have those architects been sleeping when physicians had to share decision making with their patients and their research with other scientists and the pharmaceutical industry? Were these architects blind for the fact that engineers and accountants had to share their authority with simple computers? Did these architects ignored what happened to their industrial design colleagues, who had to choose between serving the needs as perceived by the population and the industry or, as many did take refuge in a new art form of “one of a kind products” for a ever so greedy elite? Even royalty, unless firmly supported by oil rich sands has to charm the public in order to preserve its rather symbolic position and diminishing authority. Has it really taken them eight years into the new millennium to find out that their latest tactics of creating architectural idols did not work? Do they really ignore that they are as effective as all previous tentatives to hold on to a self proclaimed authority? It is hard to believe that after failing for almost a century in every attempt to avoid the inevitable democratisation of their trade, they still feel a need t...

  • Let me try

    Arts & Culture

    In response to I have a question, posted by Catherine Ozols,
    in the thread A lack of design knowledge

    I understand that David Carlson has not had the time yet to answer your question, so let me try Catherine and use the opportunity to make a few comments. Before making it a creative design brief, let’s start with a design brief in general. Design does not always starts with a brief. In many cases the designer initiates a project based on an observation of a particular need and might pursue this project until it has reached a stage where he or she considers it mature enough to present to the market. Design briefs are used when the designer in collaboration with others or sometimes…others without the collaboration a designer put together the information that is needed to design a new product. In most cases it describes the capabilities of the company both in terms of technological capability, quantitative and qualitative and in terms of marketing and merchandising capability. It also describes the anticipated performance of the product and the context, both physical and cultural in which the product will be put to use. Finally a set of financial parameters including expected return on investment etc. These briefs can be very detailed and include such marketing details as preferred packaging size or occupied shelf width and detailed performance criteria like luggage compartment size for a car (in liters) or simple criteria like stacking height etc. For complicated products like cars a design brief is an extensive document with hundreds and hundreds of pages. For simple products ...

  • The Belu waterstory


    In response to Green Washing, posted by Daniel Stillman,
    in the thread

    Thank you Daniel for the comments and link to the Belu website. I enjoyed reading both. It seems obvious that they go a long way in doing the right thing. While doing so, they are fully aware of the fact that it is indeed a temporary solution but I agree with the value of those relatively small steps. The question of recycling is and will remain for some time a quite complex one. The increasing level of division of the industrial process has almost completely eliminated any level of vertical integration of the production process. Whereas, up to the 18th century, manufacturers like Wedgwood not only knew where his kaolin came from, (he send his own nephew to South Carolina to find it and ship to England). He was involved in building the canal that would bring it to his factory and controlled the distribution of his wares all the way to the consumer. 250 years later the people that are blowing the water bottles are most often not the same as those who injection mould the pre-forms. The typical number of different companies involved from raw material to bottler is anywhere between five en six. I raise this question of lack of vertical integration because it makes every step of the process dependent on information coming form the previous one. What happens too often is that the information is neither complete nor accurate. The result is that a material that is considered recyclable at source becomes non recyclable during the process. A good example of this is the way labels are...

  • I have to disagree


    In response to Weighing the pluses and minuses, posted by Daniel Stillman,
    in the thread

    First of all I would never recommend "Cradle to Cradle" as a trustworthy source of information on the environmental impact of particular materials. “Cradle to cradle is a manifest-like publication that tries with success to balance the pessimistic and the optimistic approach to environmental design. There is nothing wrong with that nor am I critical about the self-promotion that is so well interwoven in the text, but it is not a scientific publication and many of the statements are simply wrong, including the justification on the use of polypropylene as printing material. This being said, most biodegradable plastics like the starch based plastics you featured are a mixture of petroleum based plastics combined with a starch based structure. The structure will over time turn into compost, but the plastic remains. Of course it has no integrity left and takes on a powder like form, but the original quantity is still there. I am familiar with the so called behaviourist argument. People throw plastic around and so instead of changing their bad manners let’s do something about the consequences of bad behaviour. Yet the result is an increased competition between food and material or energy crops, and an encouragement for continued bad habits and waste of a valuable material. Another aspect bothers me. I agree that it is difficult to spread all the available information on materials and their environmental impact. But your contribution on these water bottles gives the impr...

  • In response to Thanks, posted by Richard Irving,
    in the thread

    It might not always apply but I agree with your general comment that these forests should not have been submerged in the first place. We still face the fact that they are. We have a choice to either let them rot and produce massive amounts of carbon gases, or we prevent that and cut them before they do more harm. I think that this solution is the better of the two. You seem to like analogies, so…should we not try to safe oil covered birds simply because we should not transport oil in these kind of quantities in single hull vessels in the first place? I do not think so. By the way, it is not because beavers are animals that they always do the right environmental thing. I have a family of beavers as neighbours and it happens that we wake up in the morning with up to 40 trees cut by those neighbours. I can assure you that most of it is just for the pleasure of chewing up wood. They leave it their and will never use it. We should not think about ourselves as being outside of nature nor should we ignore that some natural phenomena and animals can be very destructive…

To design is first and formost a verb

Contact Koen De Winter

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design