UTILITY: The Sustainable Life

By Shannon Brien

‘We should not ask “how did we use to work and live” but “how shall we work and live in the future”.

The idea of what life will be like in the future has been the driving force behind the sustainable architecture created by Werner Sobek. Their mission is to create truly green buildings like B10, the company’s first Aktivhaus, a house that generates twice the amount power necessary it from sustainable resources.


Inspired by  The Weissenhof Settlement in Stuttgart Germany, built in 1927 to show case houses by leading architects that would be indicative of future living, leading architect and founder of the company of the same name, Werner Sobek, created B10 on that site. Architecture must consider the natural environment and it’s users, this is the foundation of Werner Sobek and the guiding principle of their architecture.


The Aktivhaus is able to continuously change to suit conditions and requirement of indoor and outdoor areas as well as power the neighbouring house, now the Weissenhof Museum, and two electric cars. It produces no emissions, minimises the consumption of energy is low cost to run and is an example of how this principle can be applied to construction world wide.


In a time where there is constant worry about climate change and running out of resources, sustainability is a massive consideration in living. Focusing on the production of non-toxic, biodegradable, recycled and locally sourced items that are manufactured with minimal effect on the environment, The Sustainable Design Book by Rebecca Proctor is a guidebook to ecologically friendly design. Porter is an expert on sustainable design and founder of Modern Craft Workshop which is dedicated to good design and quality craftsmanship, and other titles such as Recycled Home (2012) and 100 New Eco Designs and Where to Find Them (2009).

botanica_03 This book aims to educate, surprise and delight readers, making them conscious of what it means to embody the term “sustainable design”. The book is arranged into chapters that encompass all fields of design, from furniture to lighting and even home accessories, featuring 265 products and interviews with leading designers.

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Lars Beller Fjetland, a designer from Norway, was shocked at the amount of wasted leather from a tannery outside Bergen, Norway. “I believe we are going to see a greater shift in the way we perceive and make use of waste”, from this idea his Link series, a collection of luxury products made from scrapped leather, was born.

The couple behind home accessory brand, Bambu, Jeffery Delkin and Rachel Speth, uses organic coiled bamboo to craft their lacquerware. Made in Vietman by artisans who shape it by hand, Bambu provide their workers with above average wage benefits, housing subsidies, unemployment benefits and medical cover. The old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is certainly true at Bambu, as the couple believe something beautiful can be created from waste which can be bought here.


UK native and furniture designer, David Colwell, has considered sustainability in his designs for over 30 years and believes that sustainability should be high on every furniture designer’s agenda.

His O Range uses new innovations in woodworking, removing the traditional energy-intensive processes and utilising new systems that are better than conventional timber jointing.  He uses UK sourced ash wood to minimise his carbon footprint. Ash wood is renewable and absorbs atmospheric carbon and is a great material to use because it’s incredibly strong, fast growing and ideal for steam bending.


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