Ok, I’m just going to go ahead and put it out there. I’m a bit of design geek. Well, specifically an architecture and furniture design geek (and yes, I do include my love of Ikea and Grand Designs in this description…); though I also have respect for anything that is a little quirky, practical, and more importantly, sustainable.
But don’t assume this geek love equates to intellectual prowess, no Sir! Not to be confused with someone who actually knows something of substance about a particular subject, a geek is in fact characterized as someone who is (I quote the Oxford dictionary…) “extremely excited or enthusiastic about a subject, typically one of specialist or minority interest” and that’s me with design. I love it with a creepy, stalker-like passion, but am rarely invited to it’s parties.
It is because of this interest, but lack of knowledge, that I jumped at the chance to take a look at a brand new book on this very subject: The Sustainable Design Book by Rebecca Proctor.
First impressions suggested that this was a dream book for arty, designer types with a profound knowledge of design. For those who would pretentiously ponder techniques, or simply leave around for friends and acquaintances to admire. A coffee table book if you will. But a curious thing happened. As I begun to flick through its beautifully laid out pages, I realised first impressions can be very deceptive indeed…
The Sustainable Design Book Review
Whats it about?
The Sustainable Design Book – by author and sustainable design Rebecca Proctor – describes itself as:
“an unbeatable resource for those aspiring to best practice within the field of sustainable design, as well as students of contemporary product design. Consumers looking for beautiful but environmentally conscious products and accessories will also find this an essential guide.”
Across 320 pages, and including over 450 striking images, this book introduces the latest products and developments in the field of green design. Dotted throughout it also includes Q&As with leading designers, who each give insight into sustainable trends and techniques. Beginning with a chapter on sustainable materials, it goes on to cover furniture, lighting, home accessories and personal accessories.
From Beetroot dyed utensils, and moss grouted vases, to solar powered lamps and traditionally weaved chairs; The Sustainable Design Book is an anthology of past, present and future methods, all which have minimal or zero impact on the planet.
In fact, the more I flicked through the pages, the more I realised there was so much more to learn about sustainability. I was in awe of the inventive, and sometimes crazy, ways designers can create something useful using otherwise old and useless items. Table mats using old fishing rope, chairs from unused metro tickets, and even quick sink plumbing from an old Jerry can. Some things in the book you can actually buy, whilst others are simply food for thought or in fact inspiration for upcycling of your own.
But it’s not just able making something fancy from posh scrap. Many of these designers are in fact associated with organisations fighting for social developments through traditional crafts, or are researching fervently for more sustainable methods of production. This isn’t a book to stroke the egos of stuck up designers working under the trendy guise of sustainability. It’s a celebration of solutions which could well save our asses when we have depleted our Earths resources, or as easy and affordable methods to prevent that ever happening.
Who is it for?
In fact, this book is less a pretenious design book (as I must admit I kind of assumed…) and more a fun, quirky and inspiring insight into the future of domestic living. It’s an easy read for anyone curious about sustainaility and how it works in the real world. Throughout the book, handy icons highlight each product’s sustainability credentials at a glance, and the clean, simply layout makes it easy to flick through at your leisure.
You might even find yourself falling in love with some of the products – or in fact designers (two words: Gareth Neal..) – or maybe just sighing a relief that there are people out there with a positive, resourceful hand on the future.
Regardless, it’s a gem of a book for anyone who passionate about conservation, yet curious about human creativity.