Stemming from the belief that revolution starts with designers, Autodesk partnered with The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute for a new kind of competition. The Product Design Challenge, tasks participants to consider the impact of their material choices on industry, nature and economy, the inaugural edition focuses on drawing attention to the fact that throwing something away is no longer a viable option. The challenge received both student and professional submissions from 16 countries in diverse categories: home and furniture; outdoor, landscape and garden; electronic and entertainment; vehicles and structures; apparel and others.
Three winners and one honorable mention were chosen for thoughtful proposals that celebrate an inclusive approach to industrial design. "With 10 billion people soon to be living on the planet with finite amount of resources, designing for a circular economy is the only way forward. Solving today's epic challenges requires bold new approaches to how we design and make things. Creative young talent in many cases is leading the charge, leaving the linear economy in the dust," said Lynelle Cameron, senior director of Sustainability and Philanthropy, Autodesk.
Cole Smith's Finite Faucet was awarded the Fusion 360 award—recognizing the best use of Autodesk tools in realizing a design from initial sketch to fleshed-out concept—for his sleek upgrade to the often testy public restroom faucet. "I conceptualized Finite as a waterfall faucet. I imagined that the flowing water might be a suitable enough reminder of the user's impact on the environment—that their water was, at some point, coming from an actual waterfall somewhere," explains the Virginia Polytechnic Institute student. The cylindrical vessel holds just enough water to allow users to wet their hands for 20 seconds before it completely empties. It then refills over the course of another 20 seconds, reminding users to lather and scrub adequately before rinsing off. By adapting the habits of users, the faucet attempts to not only do "less bad, but more good," an effect that is compounded by the use of primarily recycled materials, including copper sourced from standard plumbing fixtures.
Jerri Hobdy's chair and stool collection aims to merge elegant design with easy recyclability. "These designs are inspired mostly by the intense need for healthy home furnishings and how to inspire minimal but adequate lifestyles through refined forms," explains Hobdy. Using solvent-free vegetable tanned leather and steel, the design invites easy recyclability as well as the option to update with new leather and different colors. As Hobdy says, "the chance to create lower cost goods with a higher actual and perceived value is a real opportunity using the Cradle to Cradle process."
Each year, between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are produced throughout the world. Though most people only use each bag for a short period of time, they can take up to 1000 years to completely degrade. This staggering figure has prompted the European Union to vote for the reduction of plastic bag use by 80% in 2019, though the need of plastic bags shows no signs of subsiding. Tjitte de Wolff 's Venlo bag is designed to meet this continuous demand for shopping bag alternatives. It is a glue-less, self-assembling bag designed to take on a second life as a soil-cover in the garden, promoting the creation of humus rich soil. "The main challenge I think is skepticism amongst large producers as they are not used to think in a circular way. However I feel this will change when sustainable design starts to show its full potential," remarks de Wolff.
A team of Pratt students comprised of Cody Miller, Daniel Penge, Carla Ramirez, Rebecca Travis, and Bryan Wong created a contactless, personalized and refillable MTA card system. A system of embossing and die cutting to allow for the separation of materials into their separate nutrient cycles separates the MetroWay from existing contactless cards. The proposal is a poignant reminder that change can be enacted even through the smallest of objects. As Miller describes: "We were inspired by the sheer volume of lives the subway transit system affects every day and the idea that a Cradle to Cradle inspired product could instantly be held by seven million New York City residents. The opportunity we saw with the MTA MetroCard was a 'bigger picture' concept for the future of sustainable design. If it is possible to design and implement sustainable products in an infrastructure as large as the New York City subway system, it can be done anywhere. A big idea that fits inside your pocket."
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