The real ecodesign A reflection: are we sure that to be ecological and environment-friend an industrial product needs to be easily recyclable? I don’t think so. I believe that when we set off designing something, and we start thinking about its future recycling, it’s a false start. It’s like if we gave it a sort of expiration date, the right to be built “so-so“, not professionally, ‘cause anyway we’re going to recycle it...........
I believe that the true ecological design is the one that studies a good product, made to (long) last, to grow old and maybe to improve in time. Honestly I’m fed up with the “single use/disponsable” culture, and prefer the “use and keep” one. Something is moving in this direction, see for instance the Brikolor team, who proposes furniture made to last 300 years. Good guys, at least they are trying. I translate from their web site: "Brikolor designs and builds furniture in Goteborg, Sweden. We have the ambition to create furniture with an emotional and technical guarantee to last 300 years."
An other firm, Howies, in Wales, proposes clothing and bags made to last, and their philosophy says: “These products have been made to last. So that one day they can be passed over to someone else, and may proceed with their journeys. We live in times of limited resources but unlimited desire to consume. The right answer is easy: to consume less as a consumer, and to create a better product as a producer. In the next future, we’ll have to take larger responsibilities for our consumptions. Producer and consumer must share this responsibility. We live in intriguing times. From the producer’s point of view, the longer lasting product uses fewer resources, and the main ingredients to achieve this result are quality and good design. To do something well, the best you can, means to work more. Each stitch, each zip, each small element must be carefully considered. Then, and only then, we can say we have fully understood the responsibility to create something.. This product is guaranteed for a minimum of ten years since the original buying date. And chances are that it will last longer than that. "David Hieatt".
However, I’m convinced that in the long end such an approach pays. Our industry stupid run to produce in China or such countries is terribly damaging the “made in Italy” production. Perhaps in a first phase it gave a little breath to our firms, but the aftermath is arriving with a slow decay of the image of the Italian product: you stitch two buttons, a label and, miracle!, it’s made in Italy. To give a few personal examples, I had from my grand-father some items I still use: pieces of furniture, still flawless after 80 years, a perfectly working Zeiss monocular, an hunting boiled wool jacket bought in London the year I was born (1955), still beautiful and practical. Obviously, we can not apply this philosophy to everything, as highly technological content products must be updated, but it works for many other things. Not to talk about the packaging section, where there’s no use for recycling. It’s a field I worked in, designing packaging for different multinationals (mea culpa), but luckily even here new alternatives are arising, that I hope will spread over: the fresh milk vending machine, tap water, bulk soaps and others. Valerio Vinaccia