With this post from Lloyd Alter we welcome leading green site Treehugger to Lifework. We’re excited to share Lifework stories on Treehugger and their stories here. At Herman Miller we share Treehugger’s wish to drive sustainability mainstream. In fact ,you can read about our commitment to the environment here. It’s at the core of what we do at Herman Miller and it’s what drives Treehugger in everything they do from their green buying guides to posts on green house design and the joys of cycling around New York City. We start with Lloyd Alter’s favorite lamp from ICFF.
A few years ago, looking for new markets for its sustainably harvested wood, the Swedish forestry company Södra developed Durapulp, a mix of wood pulp and polylactide, or PLA, the thermoplastic made from corn or sugarcane. They consulted with the architectural firm Claesson Koivisto Rune, who developed a prize-winning chair out of the stuff, and who then approached a sceptical Magnus Wästberg, who wondered about the virtues of mixing paper and electrical wiring. But with modern low-voltage LEDs, the old preconceptions no longer apply, and the result is the DuraPulp lamp,(formally the Claesson Koivisto Rune w101, nice that he names it after the designers!) which combines the strength of the material with a folded origami-like form that gives it rigidity.
Above: Magnus Wästberg holds the durapulp material that is pressed and cut into the lamps. There are 4 thin uninsulated copper wires laid in between the layers; a heavy power supply base makes it stable and supplies power to the LED lamps in the head. Rip those two things out and you can toss the thing on a compost heap.
There are so many things to love about this kind of thinking. LEDs reduce the voltage and amperage of the light to the point that the wires are barely there, and can be safely embedded in paper. A lumber company finds another use for the pulp that is often a byproduct of softwood lumber production. A designer figures out how to shape it for strength and form. The result is an attractive, effective and affordable product that at the end of its life is compostable. It’s the best example of sustainable design that I saw at this year’s ICFF.
Sweden is really far north, and the winters are long and dark. It’s not surprising that Swedes get philosophical about light; one sees it in their architecture, in the colours they use in interior design. In 2008 Wästberg even wrote a manifesto for his new company, titled Lamps for A Neanderthal Man, (pdf download here), in which he quotes the famous Swedish author and playwright August Strindberg: “The electric light will make people work themselves to death.”
He had a point; I wonder what he would have thought about computers. But now that we can work anywhere at any time, we need greener, healthier and more efficient tools that have a lower impact on our environment. The Durapulp lamp is a good example.
More at Wästberg
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