The eco-designers make the world greener with specially designed products
Eco-design and the eco-designers transforming design into reality are on the rise.
Eco-design — product and packaging design that pays special attention to environmental impact — has its roots in the environmental movements of the 1980s. While eco-design is based on a philosophy of environmental awareness, its goals are also functionality, efficiency, and esthetic appeal. Transforming those goals into reality, eco-designers have recently been gaining wider recognition.
Although all eco-designers are united by a common concern for the environment, they fall into two broad groups of those whose designs use primarily discarded or recycled materials and those who make use of eco-materials that minimize environmental impact.
Eco-design is also taking a large portion of todays’ Korean design industry with increasing awareness of environmental issues. With the rise of eco-design in Korea, we would like to introduce some of Korea’s leading eco-designers and their products.
(1) Mihyun Park, the CEO of Touch4Good — Backpack
Touch4Good, a social enterprise of young designers, focuses on ‘upcycling’, the process of transforming discarded or useless products — in the company’s case, advertising banners and signboards — into products of better quality or higher value. Touch4Good CEO Mihyun Park first gave serious thought to ways to engage people in social issues while working at an NGO that. Coming up with a short-term project to recycle advertising banners for use in daily items, she quickly realized that to continue long term she would need to commercial the project. This idea gave birth to “the company that doesn’t want to be”, Touch4Good, aiming to help make a better environment.
Lucida Backpack, made using materials from discarded advertising signs, is one of the company’s most popular products. The backpacks are popular among young consumers for their modern esthetic, dynamic colors, and functional features such as large capacity and waterproofing. Another reason for their popularity is that no two backpacks are alike, making every one a limited edition! Lucida Backpack was awarded the Grand Prize at the Seoul Environment Awards in July 2013.
(2) Hoyoung Lee, designer – Pencil Printer
Winner of ten awards in both domestic the major global design competitions — iF, reddot, and IDEA — Hoyoung Lee is Keimyung University Industrial Design graduate whose designs — including an adjustable bandage that can change length depending on the size of the wound and a machine that automatically prints traffic lanes and announcements on roads — are widely recognized for their ingenuity and functionality.
Pencil Printer, a result of his original thinking applied to his concerns about the environment, is something of an eco-design classic. Devised to recycle pencils and to help reduce the carbon footprint of print cartridge ink, Pencil Printer takes lead from a pencil stub, grinds it into powder, and uses the powder to print. Housed in a streamlined white and green body, Pencil Printer is as visually appealing as it is functional and embodies the principles of good eco-design.
(3) Gyungjae Lee, the CEO of Sewing for the Soil – Wedding dress
Imagine walking down the aisle in a biodegradable cornstarch gown and holding a bouquet of flowers with roots still attached.
Gyungjae Lee, CEO of Sewing for the Soil and ‘green wedding dress designer’ has made her dream of a green wedding come true. As a student at Kookmin University’s Graduate School of Green Design, she was struck by the environmental impact of discarded clothing and quickly realized that designers as well as consumers needed to share responsibility. As a result, when she discovered corn yarn at an eco-friendly product exhibition in Tokyo, she started to incorporate it into her designs, eventually making entire dresses from corn fiber, mulberry paper and nettle textiles.
None of her wedding gowns are bleached or fluorescent-whitened, and from fabric production to stitching each step of the dressmaking process is environmentally friendly. What’s more, the all-natural materials are fully biodegradable and quickly return to nature once put into landfill at the end of their life.
Other green wedding items from Sewing for the Soil include eco-friendly invitation cards made of recycled paper and printed with soybean oil ink. The cards are designed to be reused as a photoframe after removing the paper invitation. And for bridal boquets, Sewing for the Soil uses only flowers with their roots still intact, so they can be replanted after the wedding is over.
As the global trend in eco-design gives rise to increasingly functional and practical products isnpired by an environment-conscious philosophy, let’s hope that together the world’s eco-designers and their Korean peers can help to make our planet a better place for all of us to live.