Thanks to a sudden obsession with “green” solutions, designers, philosophers and architects have swiftly turned themselves into “gardeners.” Everything has to be green, although there are those who forget that nature is expressed in a far broader range of colours - brilliant white salt pans, grey basalt cliffs, expanses of black lava. Obsessions aside, there’s no doubt that a renewed ecological and environmental sensitivity has blossomed and spread. It is a movement that, in some ways, is reminiscent of the great “green” wave of the Seventies.
In moral, as well as financial terms, sustainability is the word that drives this phenomenon. Working towards sustainability is a tough and unrelenting commitment, totally unlike the green show (or, as per the jargon, green washing) we’ve recently witnessed. Many companies really have gone down the eco-sustainability route: opting for biodegradable or easily recycled materials, simple assembly and disassembly, with an eye to wrapping and packaging quality. Consumers seem to appreciate these product attributes, not just verbally, but also by accepting the inevitable price increases. An indirect consequence of this new attitude is an increasingly strong awareness of the need to make objects last over time and the ability to adjust, restore and freshen them up (which means the industry must really focus on all levels of post-sales service).
Recycling is also a huge concern. For example, during World War II, Emeco produced the 1006 chair for the US Navy, using recycled aluminium. Seventy-five years on, they’ve used plastic Coca-Cola bottles to make the 111 chair (named after the number of plastic bottles needed to make a single chair), harnessing the principle of upcycling, i.e. turning waste material into something of greater value, much more interesting than that of recycling.