Working with students at the UK's Middlesex University, British designer and artist Dominic Wilcox has created his version of a driverless car of the kind pioneered by Google. Wilcox's vehicle is a far cry from the Google cars, however; his takes its inspiration from Durham Cathedral in the north of England. After scrapping ideas that included a mobile Jacuzzi, a bar on wheels, and a tanning bed, Wilcox took a five-day crash course in working with stained glass to master the skills necessary to create this visually dazzling sleeper car for one. With the Mini-Cathedral--named for Durham and the famed Mini Cooper car--Wilcox wanted to create a "living space on wheels." The idiosyncratic room-for-one inside the Mini-Cathedral reflects Wilcox's commitment to a handmade tomorrow: “I don’t believe the technological future will only be slick, brushed aluminum, gadgety design.” Read more at The Guardian.
In 2001, Wendy Abrams learned that catastrophic side effects of climate change are projected to occur within the next century. "As a mother of four, this hit a nerve – the next century is my children’s lifetime," Abrams writes. She spent the next five years researching environmental science and becoming a part of the activist community by joining advocacy groups and meeting with climate researchers. At the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative, Abrams made a commitment to take action against climate change--a promise she chose to keep through the founding of Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet, a worldwide public art project designed to raise awareness of solutions to climate change. Exhibitions of the Cool Globes have been held across the United States and in Europe, with a recent exhibition in Jerusalem and a planned 2015 installation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Check out the gallery of Cool Globes at their website.
These "thought bubbles" are NYC-based artist Sui Park's "attempt to capture and visualize [the] dynamic nature of evolving thoughts." Made from white plastic zip ties--sometimes also called "cable ties"--we think these sculptures are equally thought-provoking and a delightful case of creative reuse! See more at Sui Park's website.
A new series debuts on the cable network Pivot this Friday, Human Resources, which follows the goings-on at TerraCycle, a reuse company whose motto is "Eliminating the Idea of Waste." CEO Tom Szaky is the show's protagonist, and the episodes seem to be devoted to equal parts daily company business and the kind of internecine office relationships that are the spice of any cubicle-dweller's life. Human Resources would seem to be yet another of the popular business-at-work reality TV shows that have swept the airwaves in recent years--Pawn Stars being perhaps the most successful example--but its subject matter, the reuse of waste, marks it as a product of our current zeitgeist and an important new representation of the waste-free lifestyle.
For the most part, people attempting to generate very little or no waste have been treated as oddities by popular culture. Arthur Boyt, a notorious oddball who retrieves often-rotting roadkill and eats it, was championed as a master of upcycling by National Geographic's classier-freakshow series Taboo; the video of Boyt's episode is here, if you can stomach it (no pun intended). Taboo's take on freeganism--the practice of reclaiming all of one's food from dumpsters and other waste recepticals--was to feature an unhinged San Francisco-based couple who call themselves Aloma Shamanatrix and Matthew Miracle digging around in the trash for edible fruit. And who can forget that episode of TLC's Extreme Cheapskates in which the dumpster-diving subject proudly declared, "I do not do laundry"?
People who set out to live their no-waste principals have been used as comic relief at worst and charming weirdos at best by reality television and culture at large. So it's nice to see that Human Resources, at first glance, at least, offers a different view into the ethos of the circular economy, one that will hopefully show the necessity and intelligence of waste minimization and upcycling. We will certainly be watching to find out!
"Duncan Baker-Brown has seen the future of housing – and it's rubbish. "It's a depressing fact," the architect says, "that for every five houses we build in the UK, the equivalent of one house in waste materials gets put into landfill." What makes that even worse is that much of it is still perfectly usable.
To prove the point, Baker-Brown and his students at the University of Brighton have just spent a year building a house almost entirely out of garbage..."
This is good news! Big corporations like Hermès, Veuve Cliquot, Unilever and Levi's are seeing the excitement in the important practice of reuse and upcycling. When upcycling, recycling, reuse (or whatever term you prefer) goes high fashion, it is on its way to going mainstream. It is an advertisement for an overdue shift in consumer awareness, filtering down from luxury one-off goods and filtering up from the ingenious sector that does it out of necessity. With rapidly growing general appeal, reuse is infectious to the manufacturing sector and its "bottom line" imperatives.