These designers are developing sustainable solutions to some of the industry’s biggest questions.
As a child, Antwerp-based designer Nathalie Teugels got used to being told to sit still. Her ADHD, however, made it easier said than done. “Even now I have a hard time concentrating or sitting still whenever I need to,” she admits. In fact, that was Teugels inspiration for creating MOOV, an innovative new chair that harnesses the energy produced by fidgeting and repurposes it to charge wireless devices.
Most of the furniture we encounter in our day-to-day lives is considered functional if it’s comfortable, stylish and durable, but what if it could do something more? MOOV is part of a worldwide trend within the furniture industry to produce beautiful, yet sustainable, products.
Trouble sitting still? More power to you
While in a furniture design program, Teugels became interested in the idea that certain furniture styles might be able to help concentration, She began by examining desk designs before her thinking shifted. Why was she viewing her excess energy as a burden instead of an asset? She decided not to let it go to waste.
“With that idea, MOOV was born and I was reborn,” she said.
Teugels has a working prototype of the chair, which includes built-in sensors to detect movement and piezoelectric crystals that generate electricity in response. There’s also a USB port in the arm of the chair that allows users to plug in chargeable devices.
With its current design, MOOV collects between 1 and 5 milliamps of energy per movement. At this rate, it takes about 10 days’ worth of fidgeting to charge a phone. Teugels plans to partner with a firm to help her overcome the biggest challenge for the chair moving forward: developing an efficient method of capturing electricity, while still keeping it affordable.
Teugels loves Scandinavian design, and that’s reflected in the chair’s aesthetics. It has a simple beam structure and features a cool accent color that pops from its otherwise wood grain form. The chair has only one armrest to allow for greater mobility, and the electrical wiring is hidden inside of it. This attention to detail is important to Teugels, and each piece of the chair serves a specific purpose.
“You won’t see me making anything just to be beautiful,” Teugels said. “I get inspired by functionality.”
Looking to the ocean for design inspiration
With her work, Dutch designer Nienke Hoogvliet aims to create things that aren’t just attractive, but that also raise awareness about the causes closest to her heart. Her RE-SEA ME series does just that.
Currently, the world’s oceans are polluted with many waste products, including non-biodegradable plastic. With RE-SEA ME, Hoogvliet aims to draw attention to this issue, while also showcasing one of the many natural, sustainable materials that the ocean produces.
In this series, she experimented with fish skin, one of the biggest waste products of the seafood industry, to create stunning yet functional pieces. After developing a way of tanning the skins without using any chemicals, she was able to create a striking fish skin-made leather.
To demonstrate the strength of the leather, she created a small stool by stretching two strips of salmon skin across a wooden frame to serve as the seat. She also created a rug by sewing round pieces of the glittering leather to a discarded fishing net.
RE-SEA ME is a follow up to SEA ME, Hoogvliet’s first foray into ocean-inspired design. In SEA ME, Hoogvliet created a rug using yarn made from sea algae. Sea algae, which grows quicker and requires less nutrients than cotton, could one day become ubiquitous in the textile industry, which is known for its largely unsustainable practices.
A bench grows in Brooklyn
New York City-based design collective Terreform One has taken a bit of a different approach when it comes to sustainable design. It’s been experimenting with Mycoform, a durable building material grown from mushrooms. It’s even created benches made from it.
Mycoform is created when molded organic byproducts are soaked with a fungal species called Ganoderma lucidum. When allowed to flourish in a warm and humid environment, the fungus weaves itself throughout the organic material, consuming some of it along the way, until it’s formed a durable, weight-bearing structure. The external skin is made from bacterial cellulose.
Terreform One’s Mycoform benches are designed with the help of a computer program that predicts the path that the fungus will grow within the byproducts. The bench’s futuristic-looking shape is designed and cut digitally, and its rolling curves seem to reference its organic makeup.
According to Terreform One, Mycoform is pollution-free and low tech, meaning that it could be easily reproduced in developing countries where building materials are both expensive and hard to come by. It’s also totally compostable, so rather than sitting in a landfill, it easily biodegrades on its own.
Like Hoogvliet, Terreform One’s goal in creating Mycoform was to show that plastic-based building materials could be replaced with sustainable, organic alternatives. Also like Hoogvliet, it achieves this in a surprising yet strikingly beautiful way.
No endorsement or connection is meant between those featured in this article and Chivas.