November 13, 2009
Some architects and designers are expanding into completely new practice areas during the current economic downtown. This trend is happening particularly in the LA area where architects have been sharply affected after years of growth. Architect Barbara Bestor is acting as creative director on a number or brand identity projects, working on graphics, logos, and web identity for clients that include Fuse Entertainment, Pitfire Pizza, and several start-up restaurants.
Another architect, LA-based Debi Van Zyl, is finding some success at selling hand-knitted children’s dolls on the website Etsy.com. One doll, named Bernard, looks like a cross between a hammerhead shark, a lizzard, and an alien; none wear black-rimmed circular glasses.
While no one believes the recession has ended, there are indications the worst may be over. The American Institute of Architect’s Architecture Billings Index, after two and a half years of decline, reports that demand for housing seems to be rebounding.
November 5, 2009
A little known material named Renuva could change way hunderds of things are made; from upholstery to airplane wings. It is a soy based alternative to polyurethane (which is petroleum based) and could provide a path to how products could be better made in the future.
The New York Times recently ran a story about a yellow toy giraffe named Stella that is made from Renuva. The giraffe was designed by Eric Phiffer of Phiffer Lab who was participating in Humanscale’s Faces in the Wild auction to benefit the World Wildlife Fund. Phiffer teamed up with Renuva’s producer Dow to create the one kind giraffe Stella to be auctioned off.
Even though Stella is a one-off it does illustrate how soybean based polyurethane could be used in the future as a green replacement in product design.
”We realized we had a great technology in our hands, but it was not clear to us how to communicate this to people who specify materials ending up in finished goods — designers, architects and the like — as well as lay people, the ultimate consumers,” Umberto Torresan, Dow’s global marketing manager for polyurethanes told the New York Times. “Eric was ‘the last mile’ to the market we had been missing.”
Designer Eric Pfeiffer had previously partnered with Columbia Harvest Products and the estate of the artist and designer Alexander Girard to create PLYprints. The PLYprints were printed onto Columbia PureBond plywood which is made of formaldehyde-free adhesives. The product functions not only as wall decor but as an example of practical application for greener materials and technologies marketed to consumers, designers, and manufacturers.