There are many roots to our addiction to consumption, but in this post I am going to discuss just one of them... aesthetics. It's funny that dispite the inherent aesthetic beauty of nature and the environemnt, our desire to make our own environments aesthetically pleasing can wreak havoc on the former. Now obviously there are exceptions to every rule, and Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek is one of those exceptions.
Eek doesn't tout himself as a Green designer but he embraces the ideals of sustainability in his work out of a respect for the environment and commitment to efficiency. Eek is best known for his "Scrapwood" collection of furntiure, in which he uses all bits and pieces of reclaimed wood to create beatiful, sturdy and timeless pieces of furniture. In an interview with Dwell he explains his philosphy:
"The major thing is that you make durable things. If you buy a couch from IKEA with FSC-certified wood and you throw it away after two years, it is much worse than a non-FSC wood couch that you keep for 100 years. Recycling is good, but if you calculate everything, it's not actually much better, because it takes energy to move the material to be recycled. If you account for everything, often the balance isn’t as clear as you thought it could be. For me, it's about quality and creating a look that is timeless rather than a design that is fashionable. Most of our furniture gets old in a beautiful way."
As an amature DIYer/builder I can tell you how much easier it is to build something from fresh new materials instead of making use of what you already have (particularly when using wood). It's easy to work in straight lines and even blocks. It takes real vision and creativity to look at a pile of trash and envision it's rebirth. Eek has that vision...
"I see something I like and start thinking of all the possibilities for how it could be used. If I go for a walk in the woods I always come back with plastic bags full of pieces of the forest. It's about seeing materials and techniques that are available for design, but not being used for that purpose. Scrap wood could be gold. It could be everything."