Re-Cycling, Up-Cycling, Bio-Cycling?

Google "recycled furniture" and you get some weird experiments, most of them a play on the concept of recycling like this chair made of foliage; "Commissioned by the Design Museum for the Designers in Residence programme, Harvest is a reseach project using London's flowering foliage as a raw material for furniture production. Installed in the Design Museum Tank, Jan-March 2010, and at Sawaya & Moroni, Milan April 2010"

Huge thanks to the mighty fine brains of Tim and Peter, their comments to my last post are incredibly insightful and offer a lot for designers to chew on (yes I did throw a pun in there, sorry).

I want to hear some more design voices – so I thought I would begin to articulate how I am interpreting the information flow from a design perspective and see what bounces back. How can we reverse engineer these biological models into ambitious design ideas?

Nutrient Cycles in Nature

I have a very basic understanding of nutrient cycles, and I’m likely not the only designer out there with these limitations. We’ve all seen those simple diagrams showing water flowing through a landscape, or the how nitrogen, carbon or some other basic element moves through the different layers of an ecosystem. We’ve all heard of decomposers and their vital roles. But any discussion at a molecular level is usually pretty vague.

The more I am learning in this area, the more I realize how important these principles may be for designers.

Every Organism is a Recycling Plant

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Scenario A: Infinitely Disposable – The Organic Solution

Scenarios of Sustainability within Design

True closed loops, natural cycles.

Author Unknown... but these are real chocolates!

Is the answer edible technology? The edible cell phone?

We don’t have to eat it, but as long as some organism or bacteria finds our products edible, we could create a biodegradable future where all our waste can be easily breakdown and return to the earth.

It is easy to think of biodegrading as a negative. Who wants their cell phone slowly breaking down in their pocket? Flakes of screens being caught in the washing machine, buttons that slowly disintegrate through use.

But John Warner, godfather of green chemistry argues that in nature biodegrading is coded with signals. When specific conditions are met; chemical, temperature, time, reactions trigger internal chemical responses that alter the properties of the material.

Drop the cell phone in water mixed with vinegar and it begins to disassemble. Return in a day and in the bin is floating a case, screen and electronics board. Need to go further? You drop the electronics board into a warm bath of a different kind and it comes apart in another layer.

Could this be the silver bullet for product design?

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