• 8 January 2021

    Eco-Design or Circular Design?

    By Simone Bambagioni – Tondo Associate English Version Ecological design – or eco-design – is certainly one of the key enablers for a transition towards a circular economy. Yet, is it the best alternative to make fully circular products? Eco–design is an approach to designing products with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product during its whole lifecycle. As described in the European Waste Framework Directive, it is based on a hierarchical structure of waste management that goes, in order of priority, from the prevention of waste (best option) to reuse, recycling, other recovery and disposal (worst option). However, this process relies on the assumption that the concept of waste still exists and will inevitably persist. However, in an ideal Circular Economy based future, products and materials are reused and cycled indefinitely, eliminating as a consequence the very concept of waste. Therefore, in order to have a truly Circular Product Design, we need to introduce a further concept – what Walter Stahel calls the Principle of Inertia. According to it, a product must maintain its original state (or a state as close as possible to the original one) for as long as possible, in order to minimize and ideally eliminate the environmental costs when performing interventions to preserve or restore the product’s added economic value overtime. In this context, product lifecycle is no longer linked to functionality, but rather to the obsolescence. Products, indeed, can become obsolete for many reasons (technologically outdated, outmoded, outlawed, lost of economic value, etc.) while maintaining their original functionality. This means that the state of obsolescence does not necessarily have to be permanent. It can often be reversed, giving the product a new lease of life. As long as this process stands, a single product can have several use cycles during its lifetime. And...
  • 8 October 2019

    Understand and Regenerate

    By Barbara Pollini English Version Understand Barbara Pollini started her presentation by mentioning the contemporary philosopher Timothy Morton who coined the term “hyperobjects” to explain those interconnected phenomenons which have a wide vastness in time and space and that are incomprehensible for us. Climate change is one of them. In this perspective, designer’s ability to value material is important for the environmental impact of a product, also, in the complex world, the sustainability is not a steady-state, once it is reached you can’t keep it, it is a  dynamic threshold based on the continuous research. Designers, very often, are focused on some aspects of the project, and they ignore the life-cycle of the products and their materials; there aren’t many Italian universities that push the students to think about these issues and not many corporates of materials that explain information about the life-cycle of materials. Some designers adopt a critical approach and they reinvent some materials in order to find solutions that the market is not able to propose or in order to show a walkable path or an unresolved problem. Among these examples there is “Studio Swine” which created a stool made by plastic recovered at sea. It’s not part of a series production, but it wants to stimulate a critical thinking on an environment issue through the story of a material. At NABA, during Pollini’s lessons, there have been a lot of trials on DIY materials, that are organic or “made in waste”. Some of the projects are virtuous, such as “Peel Saver”, packaging for the street food made by potato’s peel, created by the students: Simone Caronni, Paolo Stefano Gentile and Pietro Gaeli. Also at Politecnico di Milano there are a lot of studies on DIY materials, Pollini is a tutor of the Metaprogetto Lab that took part...
  • 9 September 2019

    Built environment

    English Version This article is based on Guglielmo Carra’s speech during “Re-Think Forum”. Guglielmo Carra’s speech opened with the comparison of two pictures that portray the city of Shangai, one of them was taken in the mid-1990s and the other one only a few years ago. The difference is clear: the development of the city in the past 20 years was impressive and this trend is common in all urban contexts in Asia, Africa, South, Centre America and also in Europe. It is estimated that by 2050, about 70% of the global population will live inside these cities. It means that every week, a city of 1,6 million people is built. Cities are a place for people, but also a place where resources, coming from outside, are transported to be consumed with a linear approach. This change will impact the construction sector – that, at the current state, consumes 60% of resources and emit 40% of CO2. Improvements are possible since the constructions sector is the least automated ever, so it is also the least efficient, whose productivity of one hour is still equivalent to the one in 1946. Circular Economy can be the solution, in order to enhance the processes and the resources used, not only in the design of the utilization of the building but also by defining what will happen in the future to those materials and resources used for the construction. The 4 areas by Arup Carra presents some projects by Arup that revolve around 4 thematic areas: The regeneration of natural capital, which consists of transforming the city from a place that consumes resources, to a place where resources are produced and regenerated; The creation of open and shared processes by developing and implementing collaborative processes in addition to the promotion of actions and production...
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