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Green Design: The designer’s ecological footprint

The print our feet leave on our planet should be as light as possible – that is the aim of Green Design. Product designers are no longer content with making a purely aesthetic mark. Instead, with unconventional ideas and sustainable product concepts, they are committed to making our lifestyle more compatible with the environment.

Green Design is the dream of “good” design, of things that don’t hurt anybody – not nature, who the material is taken from and is left to deal with the remains, not the planet, who the energy is extracted from and whose atmosphere it is emitted into, nor the people who make or use the object.

But Green Design is good for the eyes too, as many of the new furnishings and interior design concepts on show at the imm cologne go to show. What‘s really new about the latest generation of “green” furniture is its high aesthetic quality and conceptual strength.

In many countries, Green Design has been around for decades. Take Germany for instance, where there was a demand for waxed organic furniture and textiles dyed with natural colours as far back as the 80s. Nevertheless, “organic” remained a niche market, usually characterised by dowdy design or idealistic recycling concepts.

Not until the current debate about the necessity of sustainable behaviour and economic activity got underway and high tech joined forces with fresh, top-quality design to revamp the ‘eco’ idea did the colour green come back into fashion.

At the same time, a great deal more is associated with the concept of Green Design nowadays, for our expectations of sustainable design are growing along with our understanding of the complexity of natural and economic cycles. The designer is taking on a key role; he is expected to keep abreast of material properties and innovations and inform himself about the latest production possibilities and conditions. But more than anything else, he is meant to guarantee the product’s aesthetic longevity.

Five dynamic designers’ forthcoming statements on Green Design reveal whether he can really be expected to achieve all that and how he maintains a balance between the ideality and the reality of this particular design philosophy.