Sunday, December 09, 2007


The International Forum on Design and the Environment Sinclair C5presented by Electrolux Design Lab 2007 was quite interesting. It's worth watching the 1 hour video on Design Lab TV. Matali Crasset, presented some of her work, and it's quite interesting to hear about the ideas, concepts and semiotics behind her extraordinary projects. My favourite presentation was Jason Bradbury's, from "the gadget show" in the UK, it wouldn't hurt if he had Suzie as co-presenter, he, he. Anyway, his presentation was brilliant! Here some excerpts:
" the iPhone, You're looking (at) a celebrity. This is the most famous gadget on the planet. Apple says the interface on this phone is groundbreaking. OK. Beautiful, absolutely amazing! What's not amazing tho, What's not good about the iPhone... completely unsustainable production process. Terrible, terrible. The reason it is important is, is only significant if someone gets done for speeding, or a parking offense if they're a celebrity. That's when it becomes news. Well, here's news for you, the iPhone, the most famous piece of technology right now... completely unsustainable. Terrible, the batteries are lethal batteries... you can not access the batteries, you have to send it back to apple. Why is that a problem? because apple more than likely use a train or maybe even an airplane just to change the batteries. In fact, there is a big consumer movement against this phone based purely on it's un-green credentials. Which I think is fascinating. The iPhone has been heralded as the most amazing gadget on the planet, but actually is a bad thing."

Among other products Jason Bradbury talked about, was the amazing C5 by Sir Clive Sinclair. The C5 was ahead of it's time. Sir Clive Sinclair's C5 launchIt was developed in 1985 and was a complete commercial disaster. People didn't see the point of using a small and slow vehicle when they could jump on a full normal automobile. I had a similar experience when I was in Germany 10 years later... I designed a bicycle with full body and boot (aka: trunk) to store groceries (like the smart it is the size of 2 German beer boxes) and it went completely misunderstood. I don't know if 20 years later, we are already prepared for eco-friendly transport solutions. In the last years, despite petrol prices going up, vehicle sizes are getting bigger, and bigger. OK, modern motors are more efficient, but we are watching the return of V6 and V8 engines!!! It's just crazy. Many of today's cars are being developed to run on E85 bioethanol, however... it's again the same as the Hollywood celebrity being caught stealing! There's a raising concern about using food as a source of energy, when millions are hungry... not just vegetarians! Not to mention the destruction of hundreds of acres of rain forest to make room for biofuel crops.

Eco solutions are not easy to find. The risks of commercial failure for new product development are huge. Perception through advertisement might fool a lot of people, but I believe that a green product has to be also honest. During the 90's when I decided to specialize on ergonomics, many products were advertised as "ergonomic" (but they were not). Until IEA and other ergonomics societies, decided to ask for a fair use of the term in advertising. They couldn't ban or regulate that, but they asked companies to voluntarily use a certified ergonomist to validate that products are actually "ergonomic". With all this eco-friendly frenzy, I think that many products and designs are just the opposite of eco-friendly and should go a similar self-regulatory certification before advertising them as ecological.

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