Tag Archives: design

Plastic-Eating Fungus Revisited: Plastic-Fungus Fusion Food

plastic-wasteBack in March 2012, I wrote about some scientists who had discovered a fungus in the jungles of Ecuador, a fungus that can eat plastic.

At the time, I applauded the discovery as an exciting possible solution to the HUGE global problem of plastic waste, but I also expressed some lighthearted caution, imagining a scenario worthy of a sci-fi/action/thriller movie, wherein the fungus mutates, escapes, and feasts on all of the plastic we’re still actually using, plastic we depend on for a great many things.

A scenario I never in a million years would have imagined, however, is one I stumbled upon today, wherein an Austrian design firm, LIVIN, has teamed up with scientists at Utrecht University, to move beyond the fungus eating the plastic, and toward a more holistic-if-unappetizing, food-chain-integrated approach:

Introducing, via GOOD.is’ Jed Oelbaum: The Fungi Mutarium

The device uses fungus in little cups made of agar (a seaweed-based jelly) to digest sterilized plastic, which is metabolized into the fungus, leaving no traces of the original waste. But that’s not even the best part: after the plastic is digested, the agar cups and their resultant contents are completely edible. Yes, that’s right, these fungi actually turn plastic into something you can eat.

Well Jed, maybe that’s something YOU could eat, but I ain’t touching it! Ewwwwww!

(Not entirely incidentally, they call the agar cups “FUs”, which had me wondering whether or not this wasn’t just an elaborate hoax, but my further Googling on the subject seems to point to it being legit.)

Now, something Jed Oelbaum doesn’t explain is why the photos he included seem to suggest that the Fungi Mutarium is apparently meant to be operated wearing nothing but a Soviet-grey nightgown…

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…and the fungus-plastic fusion food is apparently meant to be eaten wearing nothing at all!

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Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?!

But, it gets better, or worse, depending on how you look at it.

The folks at LIVIN have gone so far as to design a line of utensils to be used specifically for the consumption of this product.

And while these guys try to make it sound appetizing…well…ewwww!

Scratch the fungi off the wall of this sensual cutlery and simultaneously mix with the sweet or sour sauce that tops your favorite agar FU.

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The shape of the moon spoon glides along your agar FU to reach even the tiniest fungi fruit bodies on it. It can also be loaded with the delicious agar „meat“.

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Anyway, to see the Fungi Mutarium in action, check out this brief, Stanley Kubrick-esque video presentation:

Eco-Flushing: Revisited

greenflush1Back in August 2011, I posted the first photo you see here, after having discovered this Eco-Flushing For Dummies toilet on the campus where I work.

The placard above the toilet explains:

  • the green flush handle should be pulled up for liquid waste;
  • it should be pressed down for solid waste;
  • it is coated to protect against germs; and
  • “For the system to work, we need your help. Please take a look at the diagram…and push the handle in the direction which best suits your needs. With your assistance, we can do our part to conserve this precious resource.”

At the time, I applauded the toilet and declared it superior to another prominent dual-flush design that, I felt, fails to make it clear what the two buttons are for:

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I stand by my assertion that the two-button design is less than informative, but I do have to admit that the Eco-Flushing For Dummies toilet, while ok in a public bathroom setting, perhaps particularly appropriate on a high school or college campus where, you know, education is a thing, it may not be the best, most aesthetically-appealing choice for the home or, let’s say, an elegant restaurant.

Enter John Liow’s Half:

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Via Inhabitat:

“Half” is an observation of how suggestive design can more intentionally encourage the use of the water-saving “half flush” function on a dual-flush toilet. The white half is designed to be smooth and inviting while the black half is sharp and offensive, encouraging conscious water usage.

Read more about industrial designer John Liow’s Half and “suggestive design” at Index: Design to Improve Life.

More Chandeliers From Recycled Bicycle Parts

light-1Similar to a post I did back in October 2012, this could easily belong in my Tweet of the Day, Eyecatchers, or Upcycling series…

…AND, both posts involve chandeliers made from recycled bicycle parts…

…AND, both posts were sourced from tweets by Christopher Jobson at Colossal.

…AND, since Fish & Bicycles LOVES all things bicycle, this was a no-brainer.

The amazing bike part lighting here, titled Ballroom Luminoso, the work of Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock, is installed in a highway underpass in San Antonio, Texas, taking street art to a whole other level.

Via Colossal:

Ballroom Luminoso references the area’s past, present, and future in the design of its intricately detailed medallions. The images in the medallions draw on the community’s agricultural history, strong Hispanic heritage, and burgeoning environmental movement. The medallions are a play on the iconography of La Loteria, which has become a touchstone of Hispanic culture. Utilizing traditional tropes like La Escalera (the Ladder), La Rosa (the Rose), and La Sandía (the Watermelon), the piece alludes to the neighborhood’s farming roots and horticultural achievements. Each character playfully rides a bike acting as a metaphor for the neighborhood’s environmental progress, its concurrent eco-restoration projects, and its developing cycling culture.

Anyway, here are some more photos of this amazing work:

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Random Logo Puzzlement

So, I was sitting on an interview panel this morning, the third interview for the position we’re currently trying to hire for, and before me was a clipboard that I’ve been using, not only for each interview, but off and on for a good 5-6 years, and for the first time after all that usage I noticed the logo of the company, Charles Leonard, Inc., from whom the clipboard was purchased, who knows how long ago:

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And I thought to myself, “What the HELL is that?!”

Seriously, it seemed to be made up of three elements, none of which were immediately identifiable, from the top down:

  1. some kind of vaguely gun-shaped thingy?
  2. a kitchen measuring tablespoon?
  3. a very flat shoe?

…and, certainly, nothing really resembled anything related to office products.

By the time my lunch break rolled around I knew I wanted to blog about this, and I couldn’t wait to do some research. My blog post, I was sure, would be all about how the logo fails, how a logo should decidedly NOT be puzzling, that a company’s brand should be immediately recognizable and tightly associated with the company’s business.

And so, my first stop was Google Image Search, where I found this Charles Leonard logo:

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Now, regardless of whether or not a trained graphic designer (which I’m not) would consider this a good logo, or even whether or not anyone would find this aesthetically pleasing, it IS abundantly clear what it is: CLI = Charles Leonard, Inc.

But then, a funny thing happened.

As I was pulling together the two versions of the logo for this post — taking a photo of the clipboard and editing it, downloading the other version, looking at them closely, comparing them — I suddenly and shockingly noticed something best displayed with my embarrassingly rudimentary Photoshop skills:

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I’ll wait as you scroll up and down and it all sinks in.

I happen to have some experience with logo design, having served on several committees charged with developing new logos, and one of the things we always included in our development process was a stipulation that the final design must work well in a variety of applications: in print, on the web, on t-shirts, with one color, grayscale, or multi-color. And so, in this very narrow regard, and with the aforementioned need for the logo to be immediately obvious as to what it says and is, you could determine that the clipboard application of the CLI logo failed…

…OR…you could say that it’s a VERY cool optical illusion!

As with most optical illusions, once you’ve figured out the trick being played on the eye you’ll never NOT notice it again. Check it out. Scroll up now and look at the first photo of the clipboard and you will not be able to miss the “CLI”.

So, ultimately, is it a successful logo?

Well, it got me to spend a good half hour of my lunch break thinking about Charles Leonard, Inc., something I never saw coming.

Therefore, I’d have to answer with a resounding, “Yes!”

Upcycling: Awesome Piano Bike!

piano-bikeAs a blogger who LOVES bicycles, and who has the word bicycle in the title of his blog, how can I not write about this?

Via grist.org:

What would you do if you had an old $80 piano and a big tricycle? Would you throw them out? Not if you were San Francisco musician Gary Skaggs. He turned this seemingly useless combo into gold…

Since 2008, Skaggs has been taking his bike to San Francisco’s hopping tourist area, the Embarcadero, to perform. And he gets lots of tips. Take that, recession/supposed recovery!

Upcycling at it’s finest, zero emission transportation, exercise, and musical entertainment all in one package!

That’s awesomeness.

Here’s a video about Gary and his wondeful piano bike. Pedal on, Gary!

Upcycling: Iris’ Recycled Skateboard

back-to-the-futureRemember that scene from the 1985 movie Back to the Future, where Marty McFly, in a panic to get away from a gang of thugs in pursuit, “borrows” a scooter from a kid, rips the crate/handlebar assembly from the platform, and gets away on what appears to be the first skateboard any of the onlookers have ever seen?

Well, that’s one unique way to make a skateboard, and now George Rocha at Iris Skateboards in San Francisco has come up with another method, one that is supremely satisfying from a sustainability, reduce-reuse-recycle perspective:

iris_skateboardVia Wired.com:

George Rocha turned his life-long skateboarding passion into a career of building massive concrete skateparks. Now he’s added another product to his repertoire: artisan-quality wooden skateboards assembled from strips of used and broken boards.

Modern skateboards are made of plywood. It gives them both strength and flexibility — the perpendicular placement of each wooden layer helps the overall board withstand cracks, while the complex curvatures are made possible by pressing the individually pliable sheets of wood into a mold while being glued. As plywood decks became the norm, manufacturers began to color layers to add a visual element. Strips of red, blue, yellow, pink or various combinations could be found between the light hues of natural wood, with splashy graphics on the board’s bottoms and black grip tape on top, sometimes cut into artistic patterns.

Rocha assembles new decks using the remnants of broken and discarded skateboards, laminating them together and slicing the resulting stack sideways to create his material. The result is gorgeous and always unique, turning the distinct patterning of the thin multicolored ply into the standout feature of the decks’ tops and bottoms.

Rocha also uses ground recycled glass to create a course traction surface for the top of the deck.

Check out this cool video, showing how the boards are made.

Eyecatchers: Upcycling: Heather Kocsis

heather-kocsis-lead-2At first glance, it’s not at all immediately clear exactly what you’re looking at when you’re looking at the work of Ontario, Canada artist Heather Kocsis.

Her pieces look a little bit like paintings, but there’s so much texture and depth of perspective.

So, what the hell are they?!

The answer makes for a great installment in both my Eyecatchers and Upcycling recurring series.

Via Inhabitat:

If the measure of a truly successful piece of art is its ability to draw the viewer in, Heather Kocsis’ entrancing vignettes of New York City life certainly fit the bill. Handcrafted from reclaimed pieces of wood that have been broken down and painted to resemble miniature fire escapes, brick walls and windows, each diorama offers a new little world to be explored.

Most of the wood Kocsis uses to create her pieces is salvaged or given to her by others. Any wood that is dry and in good shape is utilized.

What I love the most about Kocsis’ work, besides the clever technique and the amazing attention to detail, is how these pieces capture the unlikely beauty of aging urban structures, a kind of beauty that stands in stark contrast to the clean, minimalist designs of modern architecture.

And, of course, that the artist uses mostly reclaimed materials appeals to my treehugging sensibilities.

Be sure to check out the more complete galleries at Inhabitat and Heather Kocsis‘ website, but in the meantime, here’s some more of her work. Enjoy!

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