A better world by design

      WHAT’S THE POINT OF DESIGNING something gorgeous and useful if it makes us feel guilty, because we know that it’s ethically or environmentally irresponsible?
     At this time of unprecedented environmental, social and economic crises, should we be 
creating the deceptions that encourage continuous consumption or figuring out a way to 
help counter it?

     In a world where design has become a recognised corporate asset, designers and their 
clients have the opportunity to use their persuasive skills responsibly and to accelerate 
awareness. Just think of how quickly the plastic bag has become taboo in many countries. 
Designers create much of what the world sees, wants, buys, uses and experiences.
Imagine using their professional power, persuasive skills, and wisdom to help distribute 
ideas that the world really needs: health information, conflict resolution, tolerance, 
technology, freedom of the press, 
freedom of speech, human rights and democracy.
      Studies have found that up to 80% of a product’s environmental impacts are already locked in at the design stage when key decisions are made about materials, production, distribution, operation and end-of-life management.  Design can make an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. Making sustainable design affordable is a huge factor. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the life cycle of the product.
Factors to consider.
* Product need
* Product durability and longevity
* Specification of environmentally preferable materials
* Energy and water efficiency during manufacture and use
* Reduction or elimination of greenhouse gas emissions, toxic and hazardous substances and embodied energy

* Design for straightforward disassembly, reuse, refurbishment and recyclability

* Product stewardship such as take-back and recycling schemes

* Packaging minimisation

* User information and education



Up-cycle your world – Hemensley

The concept of “upcycling” is a process of upgrading used material,  making it more desirable than it was at the start. Upcycling is a  procedure akin to recycling in which waste material and worn out goods  are reprocessed directly into new products of higher value. In normal  forms of recycling the opposite is usually the case; recycling is usually  “downcycled”. This happens when recycling product components and they turn  to lower forms of raw material. Up-cycling is more than just recycling. It is hugely popular and can be very  artistic. I landed 119,074 results for up-cycled products on the crafty diy site ‘etsy’.

A beautiful example of up-cycling for the benefit of our environment and  communities is ‘Bead for life’ in Uganda. Bead for Life not only makes jewelry  out of a recycled material, nor does it stop at teaching business skills to  women in Uganda in the process—it’s also striving to be a carbon-neutral operation The beads are made from almost any kind of used, stiff paper—old cardboard,  cereal boxes, posters, etc.—that they find as trash or collect from a local  printing business. Women learn to turn this into a resource and roll it into  paper beads and make jewelry out of it.

Another example is Galit Begas, an Israeli designer, who was sick of seeing plastic  bags polluting our world and decided to gather these pesky things up and make  something with them. Free, waterproof, readily available and brightly coloured… why, they’re the perfect raw material for shoes!  Wrapped around an insole, the  plastic bags are heated gently to help them retain their shape whilst keeping them  flexible and comfy. They are on display as part of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and  Design Jerusalem’s Thinking Hands show during Milan Design Week.

In the art world the artist Duchamp (Dadism), with his work the Bicycle Wheel and the Urinal, was leading in the concept of upcycling and a great inspiration for all.

Carmina Campus is a brand (designed by a previous Fendi designer) that creates really  expensive bags all made out of pieces of different things as shower tubes, tapestry,  bottle caps, crochets, all put together.

Maison Martin Margiela is a master of up-cycling. Best known for its tastes for ‘transgression‘  and ‘deconstruction‘. A graduate of Belgium’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts and a former assistant  to Jean Paul Gaultier in Paris, Mr. Margiela was among a group of designers from Antwerp who caused a shift in fashion in the late ’80s by tearing apart and reassembling garments at the seams,  introducing techniques that would have a lasting impact on everything from streetwear to haute couture. He has shown coats reconstructed with a sock at the elbow or sleeves protruding from the front and  back; jackets with the sleeves turned inside out into capes; i love the bag jacket with its obvious  handle down its back. These works are an example of artistic garments. Margiela’s upcycled garments are highly exclusive, very fashionable and ridiculously, they represent the top of the fashion industry.  Remade in such way that they leave the consumer cycle forever.






Dadism 1916- 1922 (Khemensley)


Dada was an artistic and literary movement that started in Europe when World War I was going on.  Because of the war, many artists, intellectuals and writers, especially those from France and  Germany, moved to Switzerland, which was a neutral country. Instead of being relieved that they  had escaped, the artists, intellectuals and writers were furious with the modern society.  So, they decided to show their protest through artistic medium. They decided to create non-art  since art in the society anyway had no meaning.

Dada activities included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary  journals; passionate coverage of art, politics, and culture were topics often discussed in a  variety of media. Abstraction and Expressionism were the main influences on Dada, followed by  Cubism and, to a lesser extent, Futurism. There was no predominant medium in Dadaist art. All  things from geometric tapestries to glass to plaster and wooden reliefs were fair game. Assemblage, collage, photomontage and the use of ready made objects all gained wide acceptance due to their  use in Dada art. For something that supposedly meant nothing, Dada created a lot of offshoots.  In addition to spawning numerous literary journals, Dada influenced many concurrent trends in the  visual arts (especially in the case of Constructivism). The best-known movement Dada was directly responsible for is Surrealism. The movement went onto influence later styles like the avant-garde  and downtown music movements, and groups including surrealism, Nouveau réalisme, pop art, Fluxus  and punk rock.

Using an early form of Shock Art, the Dadaists thrust mild obscenities, scatological humor,  visual puns and everyday objects (renamed as “art”) into the public eye. Marcel Duchamp performed  the most notable outrages by painting a mustache on a copy of the Mona Lisa (and scribbling an  obscenity beneath) and proudly displaying his sculpture entitled Fountain (which was actually a  urinal, sans plumbing, to which he added a fake signature). The public, of course, was revulsed – which the Dadaists found wildly encouraging. Enthusiasm being contagious, the (non)movement spread from Zurich to other parts of Europe and New York City. And  just as mainstream artists were giving  it serious consideration, in the early 1920s, Dada (true to form) dissolved itself. In an interesting twist, this art of protest – based on a serious underlying principle – is  delightful. The nonsense factor rings true. Dada art is whimsical, colorful, wittily sarcastic  and, at times, downright silly.







Roman Erte

by Michelle Davies

Erte’s distinguished career spanned over 80 years and crossed over into several mediums including fashion illustration, stage and costume design and bronze sculpture. He is widely recognized as the most influential artist of the Art Deco movement.

Art Deco  was an eclectic design style which began in Paris in the 1920s, flourished internationally during the 1930s, fell out of favour in the 1940s and enjoyed a resurgence during the 1960s and again in the 1980s.

Arctic Sea

A departure from the flowing asymmetrical curves of Art Nouveau, Art Deco embraced may different styles of the early 20th centre, including Futurism, Cubism, Modernism, Constructivism and Neoclassical.

It’s lavishness is attributed to reaction to the forced austerity imposed by World War I. Founders included Hector Guimard, Eugene Grasset, Paul Bellot and Emile Decoeur.

Erte or Roman Tyrtov (also known as Romain de Tirtoff) was born on November 23, 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Roman moved to Paris at 14 and enrolled at the Academie Julien to pursue fashion and stage design and changed his name to Erte.

His first job was with leading French designer, Paul Poiret. His style was influenced by the glamorous costumes and sets of the Parisian Music Halls.

Symphony in Black 1982

His fashion illustrations graced the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar for which he produced over 200 covers and other artwork.

In 1925, Louis B. Mayer brought him to Hollywood to design sets and costumes for the silent film Paris. There were many script problems, so Erté was given other assignments to keep him busy. Hence, he designed for such films as Ben-HurThe MysticTimeThe Comedian, and Dance Madness.

When Art Deco fell out of favour in the 1940s and 1950s, so did Erte’s designs. However, he enjoyed a ‘second career’ with the renewed interest in all things Deco in the 1960s.

During this period (which lasted right until his death in 1990), he created visually stunning fashion serigraphs and bronze sculptures.


Buy Erte

Museum 1999 (Tokyo)