Move to Recycle Bin -­ and save the earth

Image Source : Somam magazine

While Delhi was struggling with the odd even formula to breathe easy, in another capital city halfway across the globe, young designers were finding inspiration in cracking the sustainability conundrum.

`Nature is back for good’ read a signboard at the Stockholm Design Week, an annual fair that showcases Scandinavian furniture and lighting innovations. At the Greenhouse, a space dedicated to showcase emerging talent, sat a disobedient coffee machine that coughed when non-organic coffee was put into it.

A jumper hung nearby, embracing the ethos of reuse with a question: How many lives does a material have? It’s the jumper’s 20th life – the same wool has been unravelled and re-knitted over and over, and its designer Josefin Tingvall has plans for 80 more designs using the same material. “Consumption and ownership do not become such a big problem when one and the same material is being used,” he explains.


Image Source : Somam magazine

Sustainability was a consistent theme at the furniture and lighting fair, with waste products from manufacturing processes like flooring production being upcycled into products for the corporate landscape. Of the fair’s 700 exhibitors and 300 companies from 32 countries, many agreed with the philosophy that waste is a design flaw.


“My friends gift me trash these days,” says Johanna Tornqvist with a grin, as her recycled garments and accessory designs come up on a flickering screen behind her. One of the works of her `Project Precious Trash’ is a shimmering dress made of plastic strips from the empty packages of coffee and pasta one family discarded over two months. Cut and fixed into box pleats, the full-length, multi-tiered dress is a visual delight. “But it’s for the organic diva,” the Swede says, stressing on the conscious design. “Of all the garments bought in Sweden, about 27% remain in wardrobes and 53% goes to the garbage. Only 20% is reused,” she says.

accessory designs

Image Source : Swedish Institute

Tornqvist’s `plasticware’ is still a prototype, and not yet ready for the display windows of a shopping mall. But popular brands like H&M are also trying to re-use while pumping up new purchases. Last September, the Swedish fast-fashion giant introduced a 16-piece denim collection that uses 20% recycled cotton yarn.

“Conscious design is about much more than sticking a green label on your existing products,” says Carola Hedqvist, sales manager at Handarbetets Vanner, or Friends of Handicrafts, showing two hand-woven rugs, one that resembles a coral reef and another inspired by Sweden’s green landscapes.


Standing tall in the Stockholm suburb of Sundbyberg are two eight-storeyed towers with 31 apartments each, made of cross laminated timber. Apart from some steel columns interspersed to manage larger spans and insulations on the outside, every part of it is wood. “A house of the same size built in concrete (a non-renewable material) would lead to 2,200 tonnes more carbon emissions,” says Arne Olsson of Folkhem, the builder.”People have lived close to trees since ancient times and built their homes of wood for millennia. With its organic warmth, inherent feeling of softness and eco-friendly properties, wood is an ideal construction material for the future,” he says as he walks around the rooms that smell of fresh forest. Folkhem intends to build 6,000 new apartments in the city, entirely from timber.”Countries such as China and India could lead the way, to show that they are doing something for the environment,” he says.

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