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Research, Research, Research!

July 14, 2008

This past week and for the rest of July I have my head down researching!

I have distilled the essence of my prototypes, material composition, design style and overall project aims into a Concept Development document and am now conducting initial research into eco-materials, manufacturers, commercial standards and other fabulous products coming onto the market.

There are many possibilities worth exploring regarding materials, but there may be some restrictions when it comes to commercial application. I am looking at both Australian and International standards for wallpaper and textile composition in terms of their durability, flammability, mould retarding properties and VOC emissions, so that I can better understand my parameters.

While conceiving this project over the past several years, I have thought a great deal about what it means to create a product – how the manufacturing process impacts on the environment and how living with the product affects and effects the well-being of the consumer. This has made me very conscious of the role the designer plays in shaping the world in which we live.

I recently read the inspirational book Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart.

William and Michael encourage us to ‘take nature as our model for making things’ and explain ‘how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful lives, they will produce nourishment for something new.’ They talk about ‘biological nutrients that will easily reenter the water or soil without depositing synthetic materials and toxins’ and ‘technical nutrients that will continually circulate as pure and valuable materials within closed-loop industrial cycles, rather than being ‘recycled’ – really, downcycled – into low-grade materials and uses.’

Up until this point, I had only considered using raw materials of the earth, but now, I’m also considering creating products that are and can become part of the recycling chain.

Let’s see where this research takes me!

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