Norwegian Wood is the name of a non-fiction book by Lars Mytting – a Norwegian journalist and storyteller – which discusses the traditional Norwegian art of chopping wood and stacking it for the winter. Translated into ten languages, it has become a bestseller well beyond Scandinavia.
The fascination that the volume has generated, even among city-dwellers, goes far deeper than simply attempting to learn a skill and is largely owed to the fact that the activities described by Mytting – whether or not they are put into practice – resonate with universal and existential issues such as the primeval relationship between man and nature and the respect for the timescales and lifecycles of what is considered the ultimate natural material.
More a life lesson, the book takes a whole new look at things, and which translates into the adoption of eco-conscious behaviours and the search for sustainable, eco-compatible and environmentally friendly products. This approach is also beginning to be manifest within the domestic walls, both in the choice of furniture, furnishings and materials.
Companies and designers are becoming mindful of sustainability in relation to manufacturing processes, embracing the principles of a circular economy and experimenting with raw materials made from recycled waste. The design sector is beginning to take the entire lifecycle of things into consideration, paving the way for innovative practices such as the creative re-use or harnessing of biodegradable materials.
There are myriad original creative solutions for using up waste materials, giving them a second life and a chance to be used for different purposes. As we have already seen, the takeback of discarded shipping containers has provided town planners and retailers with a low-cost means of temporarily rehabilitating entire city areas. Canadian firm Modpools (www.modpools.com) is now trialling their application in gardens and outdoor areas as a quick and way to install swimming pools with spa functions.
The container/pools are small, easily installed and equally easily relocated. They have integrated water-heating systems and all the functions can be controlled via a smartphone app. This enables even a tiny garden to be transformed – without too much expense – into a solarium, while helping to recycle large quantities of material with no environmental repercussions.
This macro-trend breaks down into three micro-trends that describe its different applications and facets: Zero Waste Design, Upcycled Materials and Low Impact Living.