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Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Designer Spotlight: Joining Wood and Metal – Hilla Shamia

Hilla Shamia bench 2

Designers have always sought out wood for its natural beauty and warm organic feel. A designer turning out a new twist on wood furniture is Hilla Shamia. Shamia’s work is a beautiful example of contrasting materials that work together. Shamia developed her technique while studying for her B.Des. in the Department of Industrial Design at Holon Institute of Technology, Israel.

Hilla Shamia casting

Shamia’s stunning pieces come in a range of tables, stools and benches. They are made by first positioning the wood into a mold. Molten aluminum is then poured into the mold filling in the cracks and crevasses of the wood. Because wood has a burning point around 250 degrees Celsius (482 degree Fahrenheit) and aluminum has a melting point of about 660 degrees Celsius (1220 degree Fahrenheit); where the molten metal touches the wood, charcoal forms.
Hilla Shamia benches

The layer of charcoal creates a transitioning barrier between metal and wood. The process preserves the natural form of the wood while joining it to the metal. Shamia calls this process wood casting. Because no two trees are the same and you can never predict the final outcome; each piece is one of a kind. Being one of a kind means you won’t be finding one in your local furniture store, however some pieces are listed on Discover Deliver, price upon request. The current pieces listed are composed of cypress and aluminum.

Hilla Shamia table

You can check out Hilla Shamia’s Facebook page for posts about availability, article mentions and more. But aside from the natural beauty of these pieces they are keeping it sustainable as well. Her metal of choice aluminum is recyclable. And although some designs are made with Cyprus the designer also works with Eucalyptus which is a fast growing sustainable wood.

related: more innovative design featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Off the Grid Solar: Sustainable Energy Meets Sensible Design

lumi solar (original at night)

One of the obstacles hindering the growth of solar power is that it is still connected to the grid. Because solar in some cases is connected to and supplemented by the grid; it is not self-efficient. The people against solar make this argument, arguing that solar is not a viable option because it cannot work on its own. Lumi Solair, a New York based company, addresses this concern and specializes in off-grid self-efficient products. Lumi Solair has three different lights designed to light streets, parking lots and both private and public space. The three models are the Original, Swan and Classic; all of which are stylish.

lumi solar

1. Original is an off the grid solar and wind powered lighting unit that provides reliable lighting in the most demanding of environments.

  • The structure stands 25 feet tall, is composed of aluminum and can stand winds up to 110 mph.
  • The solar panels are a 200 W polycrystalline panel.
  • Has its own energy management system, a lithium Iron phosphate battery, a 10 year lifetime and is 100% recyclable.
  • The light is an LED and dark sky rated.
  • Its additional turbine is 250 W at 10 m/s and has power generation below 5 mph.

swan solar light

2.  Swan is strictly an off-the-grid solar lighting unit. Installing the Lumi Solair swan can save you more than 45% when compared to conventional lights.

  • The structure stands 25 feet tall, is composed of aluminum and rated for winds up to 150 MPH.
  • The solar panels are a 320 W polycrystalline.
  • Has its own energy management system, a lithium Iron phosphate battery, a 10 year lifetime and is 100% recyclable.
  • The light is an LED and is dark sky rated.   (more…)
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

green home: designer lamp made from recycled pizza cans

margherita lamp kids

The funky little Margherita lamp features reused materials – the shade is made of recycled pizza sauce cans – and is created in an end-to-end environmentally conscious production process. The lamp is a playfully green lighting solution appropriate for almost any modern loft space, kid’s room or home office – and it’s eco-friendly.

margherita lamp bedside

To kick off Margherita’s debut, the Italian design collaborative, Izmade, is hosting a crowdfunding campaign over at Indiegogo. All contributions to the campaign will help Izmade meet minimum order quantities for the local Italian beech tree plywood and soybean adhesive required in the manufacture of the lamp (the recycled pizza cans are free). The utilization of these readily available local materials will allow Izmade to continue its commitment to truly environmentally conscious design – even as the lamp is marketed to a larger audience.

margherita lamp pizza cansmargherita lamp cans

Howz it made?
Every day in Turin, Italy, nearly 15,000 tomato sauce cans are used and thrown away by restaurants. Izmade recognized this source of raw, recycled materials as an opportunity to build a beautiful, useful object while simultaneously sharing their philosophy of global sustainability. The recycled tomato cans are collected from local restaurants in Turin. The recovered cans are then washed, cut, and painted to create the lampshade.

The stand and the plywood
The plywood stand comes from fast growing beech trees, a species native to the Piedmont region of Italy. The layers of plywood are bonded by a renewable, eco-friendly soybean adhesive – while the lamp itself is assembled without any glue and utilizes the friction between the stand and the connecting parts to hold its shape.

2 Margherita lamps

Parts and process
The wooden pieces of the lamp are cut with a proprietary CNC milling machine built by Izmade in collaboration with Paolo Giacobbe and Paolo Di Napoli. Named the “Woody Router”, the machine was built for an open-source project that allows citizens free use of the machine inside the Officine Creative workshop. All electrical components (including the cables, the plug, and the switch) are locally sourced from Italy.

Production is hosted by Officine Creative, a community workshop project which promotes the artisan culture and enables shared creation. Officine Creative is part of Cecchi Point, a multicultural hub located in the heart of Turin.

margherita colors

8 different colors
Margherita is available in 8 snazzy colors, so you can match you can match your space’s color scheme or add a fun color accent.

Izmade is offering a wide range of rewards for those who contribute to their Indiegogo campaign which runs through February 6th, 2015.

related: more eco-friendly home decor items featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

rustic dining tables in reclaimed cypress

rustic dining table in reclaimed cycpress

A finely crafted piece of furniture created from reclaimed wood can add character and country flair to almost any home. The patina, grain patterns and saw cuts inherent in these tables created by Texas-based furniture maker, Jacob Triche and Revival Supply Co., provide plenty of eye-catching appeal. Many of Jacob’s pieces are made utilizing locally sourced reclaimed cypress in a patchwork pattern.

reclaimed rustic cycpress table

dining table in reclaimed pine and cypress

Consumers in search of unique home furnishing solutions should always consider purchasing handcrafted pieces created by local craftspeople from reclaimed materials before buying expensive, machine-made furniture from giant chain stores. In doing so, you can save money, help preserve old growth forests, support local businesses and benefit from all the history, craftsmanship, character and patina inherent in in these pieces.

related: more eco-friendy furniture featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Are Wireless Christmas Lights in Our Future?

Aura wireless christmas light

File this under: holiday home décor goes wireless. When putting up your Christmas tree the most time-consuming step is stringing the lights. Unless you have a fake tree already strung, traditional lights require several steps. Strings have to be: tested, fixed, plugged-in, hidden and woven over the entire tree. The eRing Kickstarter project (it used to be called Aura) is saying farewell to wired lights and hello to wireless. The designers of eRing are offering us the first ever wireless Christmas tree lighting system and their project will be featured on Kickstarter until January 18th. If it becomes a reality, starting next year, wired lights may become a thing of the past.

Here’s how the eRing system works. To light the tree, simply lay down a (supplied) base ring, plug it in and hang your light-up ornaments anywhere. The wireless lights are completely encased in a glass, or plastic, sphere-shaped ornament. The idea is more holiday magic then holiday décor; here are the Pros for the everyday consumer and pros for the alternative one.

smart phone control

Everyday Pros:

  • Lights cannot short circuit or spark
  • Lights give off little to zero heat unlike traditional light bulbs
  • Lights are LED’s, and use less power than traditional lights
  • Greatly reduces risk of fire, if not completely eliminating it
  • Option for smart phone control (image above)

Alternative Pros:

  • eRing wireless lights last up to 20 years and one system can light up to 100 ornament lights
  • Being wire free means less materials and less materials means less waste
  • You’re using less plastic. Traditional string lights have plastic coating on the wires, plastic plugs and plastic holders for the bulbs.
  • The wireless lights are on a PCB, printed circuit board, which is recyclable.

wireless lighting ornament

The whole thing works using wireless power transfer via resonant inductive coupling. The base ring contains a coil, electricity flows through the coil and (more…)

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