What IS organic design exactly? My recent visit to Cooper-Hewitt answered part of that question for me.
The Nature Conservancy developed an exhibition in which 10 leading designers were commissioned to develop new uses for sustainable materials and tell a unique story about the land and culture from which they came. This exhibition is beautiful because it asks designers to reshape our material economy by choosing products that support rather than deplete endangered places. Take a look at the incredible designs, beautiful regions of the world, and stories about these brilliant designers: Design for a Living World
Most products featured in the exhibition are decorative: items like bamboo furniture, chicle latex vases and vegetable ivory jewelry. These products are created with a Western consumer in mind, but wouldn’t it be fascinating if they created products to add value to the people’s lives in these developing villages and communities? There is a strong demand for textiles and furniture in the developed world, and the motivation to profit from these materials possibly led to the outcome. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially since the profits are mostly going back to the indigenous communities! However, it would be even more interesting of a challenge if the designers used these materials to create products FOR the populations that so kindly lend their materials for production. This project created a lot of awareness for these regions and helped the communities, there is just something missing… when I see the salmon skin heels from Isaac Mizrahi, I wonder if anyone in Southwest Alaska, from which the salmon came, would ever wear these shoes? Would the Bribri women in Costa Rica make hot chocolate for their families with Yves Behar’s invention below?
Mmmmm chocolate! Yves Behar 100% organic cocoa, made in Costa Rica. Sales from the product support the Bribri community and help to preserve biodiversity in the rain forest. To make the patty, Bribri women grind cacao beans to a paste and let it harden. The patty is meant to be grinded with the tool above and added to milk to make hot cocoa.