Design means making things easier and in this modern world, more sustainable too. With this approach to design, many young and creative minds developed some creative sustainable product concepts or designs recently for a talent contest. Intelligent, sustainable, original and beautiful – these are the 20 best entries to imm cologne’s competition submitted last year.
Sustainable product concepts and flexible products for changing needs
A sustainability theme runs through all these concepts like a common thread. Renewable natural materials or recycled materials have been used particularly frequently in the chosen designs, but high-tech materials feature as well. Everyday products that make behavioural habits, consumption or energy a sensory experience are another theme that is inspiring young designers. The number of concepts looking for alternatives to common electrical appliances or ways of reusing functional components in upcycling projects is also striking.
Let us see those 20 best ideas of Sustainable Product Concepts by young creative minds and the up-and-coming designers.
1. Levi – the Worktable reimagined
This worktable is first among the sustainable product concepts and the centerpiece of its design is the joint. The continuous range of adjustments at any angle enables the universal use of very different tabletop sizes and shapes. Levi is mobile, lightweight, intuitive, and can be assembled and disassembled without tools. Folded flat, the X-base is a space-saving design for easy stowing and, flat-packed keeps storage and transport costs down.
Photo credit: Marie Kurstjens, Iva Coskun
2. SoftShelf – minimalist shelving system
Upholstered walls with functional stitching details form the frame for shelves, drawers and many other elements. These features make the shelving system a universal product for furnishing the most diverse spaces. It creates an inviting atmosphere while naturally also assuming the function of acoustic elements.
Photo credit: Peter Otto Vosding
3. Binomio – multifunctional desk
Binomio is a hybrid piece that is two-sided and consists of three simple shelves placed at different heights from the floor. It is multifunctional in nature and it can be used as a desk or as a wardrobe. Also, it can also become a table for dining alone, a bench to take off your shoes, a hanger, a bedside table, a bookshelf, an altar or a prie-dieu, as well as a support for any type of object. Binomio is made of solid, lacquered beech wood.
Photo credit: Studio Giunta; Giuseppe Arezzi
4. Fold: Paper table lamp
Inspired by the simple shape of a paper fan, Fold combines the familiar accessory with a contemporary light solution. By unfolding and placing the paper shade into the aluminium stand, the table lamp enhances this pleasant yet playful interaction between subject and object. Fold contrasts paper and metal, traditional craftsmanship and industrial design, hereby finding an aesthetic balance between feminine and masculine connoted materials.
Photo credit: Thalea Schmalenberg, Kasper Friis Egelund
5. Aspirator – lets out your negative emotions
This product concept lets you make an inflatable seat for reducing negative emotions by yelling at it. People who suppress emotions are prone to mental illness. The Aspirator venting machine is a psychological vacuum cleaner that helps people vent negative emotions. When people are unhappy, shouting or saying something to the Aspirator will make the airbag inflate. In the end, people can create a seat made from their own negative emotions and relax in it to find solutions to their problems.
Photo credit: Qing Deng
6. Uion – Oriental armchairs with minimal material usage
Explore and create a kind of Oriental style using the universal language of design: The appearance revolves around the shape structure of the letter “U” and suggests the shape of traditional Oriental armchairs, highlighting a sense of rhythm between straight lines and curves. In terms of material technology, the rattan of different thicknesses is made with a hot bending process, and all the unnecessary structural parts of the seat are removed, so that the use of materials is minimized, showcasing a simple and quiet, natural beauty.
Photo credit: Da Zeng
7. Udon Stool – traditional materials, unique aesthetics
The Udon Stool is made of solid ash wood and has unique aesthetics acquired with a 2D CNC machine. The clever use of the router bit enables the distinctive shape of both the seat and the legs. The stool is constructed from a total of five pieces only, which are cut out with a CNC machine, resulting in a highly efficient manufacturing process. The stool aims to create a sense of playfulness using traditional materials and modern manufacturing techniques.
Photo credit: Anton Mikkonen
8. Triplex Stool – made of strongest natural cellulose materials
Triplex is an experimental item of furniture that pushes the physical limits of a stool, from structure, weight and dimensions to assembly, delivery and after-life. It is unprecedented product in the industry. The module is made of flax fibre, one of the strongest natural cellulose materials. Designed with a strategically curved geometry, the less than 3mm thick stool stands elegantly on its arches and embraces the weight it carries.
Photo credit: Whitnie Yvette Lau, Dennis Cheung
9. Flow Chair – high-quality furniture with fast assembly
Flow Chair reinvents well-known flat-pack furniture with four main elements and eight joints. Assembly is fast and intuitive and can also be reassembled multiple times without sacrificing strength. Flow shows that flat-pack furniture doesn’t need to be frustrating and of low quality. It can also offer a timeless look, quality materials and durability. Details, such as brass joints, are made by hand, which gives the chair a unique character.
Photo credit: Filip Lenarcik
10. Tenok – DIY vacuum cleaner
This is an open-source vacuum cleaner that you can build yourself. More than half of all vacuum cleaners are functional when they are thrown away. They are waste but also an opportunity to make something useful again from what appears to be rubbish. By means of a 3D-printed adapter, Tenok can be equipped with used vacuum cleaner parts from nearly all manufacturers. The detailed online construction manual is designed to encourage even people without technical expertise to make one.
Instructions for building your own Tenok vaccum cleaner.
Photo credit: Tim Krahmer
11. JoJo – a lamp with a sense of time
JoJo is a lamp that is wound up by a string and emits a bright, warm light. Within a short period of time, the light becomes dimmer before it goes out. The idea for the project is that the change in light can create a sense of time. The playful interaction of the pulling to turn the light on is reminiscent of a yo-yo, or “Jo-Jo” in German, and gives the lamp its name and its shape.
Photo credit: Sofia Souidi
12. PIPE-LINE – Extendable table
PIPE-LINE is an extending table whose mechanism serves as the central design feature. Two pipes flow into each other akin to a telescopic rod and function simultaneously as the extending mechanism and frame. The visible screws in the sides and the demonstrative display of all the functional parts make PIPE-LINE a unique extending table. The coloring indicates the table’s function and highlights the parts to be moved.
Photo credit: Peter Otto Vosding
13. CLICK – easy to assemble, affordable chairs
Inspired by his own frustration with being unable to afford high-quality designer furniture, the designer set out to design a quality product that is accessible to young professionals and students. CLICK is foremost a joinery system. The click-together joint enhances the user experience by eliminating the frustration of furniture assembly, leaving the user to appreciate the function and beauty of the piece.
Photo credit: Will Cook
14. Stratum Tempus – spiral shape vase collection
Stratum Tempus is a vase collection based on a self-developed, ecological and material-conscious technique. By laser-cutting sheet material such as 100% recycled acrylic or bamboo into concentric, thin layers, conical and organically shaped objects are created with less material and almost no waste. The spiral shape creates a natural elegance. As a result, they have no facade and are changeable when moving, creating a dynamic experience in space.
Photo credit: Daan De Wit
15. According to the Grain – wooden seats highlighting natural wood knot
These wooden seats are for those who appreciate the materiality of wood. This project highlights the quality of a wood knot, the character of which is often treated as a defect and neutralized in industrial processing. By chiselling down 12mm from a flat surface and chiselling out the knots, its three-dimensionality and texture are enhanced and its unique materiality becomes palpable to the casual viewer. The surface can now reveal more secrets and help the user imagine what this material once looked like in its natural state.
Photo credit: Sho Ota
16. Skilja – A flexible wall for a flexible home
This sustainable project concept is a flexible wall that can be useful for quick segregation of space. The household has gone through big changes over time, and as we move into the future, flexibility might become a greater need. Skilja was created to support this future flexibility. Skilja is a modular wall, and with rods, joints and fabric, you can mount it to facilitate the current needs of your home.
Photo credit: Nelita Olsson
17. OMIT – silent non-electric vacuum cleaner
OMIT is a non-electric vacuum cleaner that works by a small action. It does not have the same power as a conventional vacuum cleaner but works silently and is handy. It can be used at any time of the day and in any place without electricity. The idea was inspired by my designer’s own daily life needs. Living with flatmates, the young mind usually cannot use the vacuum cleaner on weekdays because of the noise. With OMIT, life can be less noisy and handier by omitting electricity.
Photo credit: Hiroyuki Morita
18. CURTAIN – illusional wavy frame
A modular space divider design based on the exploration of curves and structures. The shape was inspired by and expresses the energetic flow of sea waves, which is natural and boundless. This is done by connecting the arches in different directions to create a wavy frame that looks like a curtain. The structure allows unlimited extension lengths and changes of direction. CURTAIN, the distorted frame makes it possible to look at space from a different perspective.
Photo credit: Wing Yin Ng
19. Braided weave – carpet that transforms into a basket
This sustainable product concept is a handmade, braided, woven carpet that can transform into a basket. This project started as an investigation of the similarities between textile weaving and basket braiding. The constructions of the techniques differ greatly, and each technique has its own characteristics of complexity and identity. The carpet has a flat surface with a circular contour. When a rope is pulled through the loops at the ends, the contour of the circle comes together as a 3-dimensional shape.
Photo credit: Photo: Sofie Leenen
20. Efterlyst – mobile light source
Efterlyst is a stationery area light that can function as a mobile light source for improving quality of life for people that are temporarily off the grid. This lamp continues to illuminate during a power outage due to its integrated battery making it one amongst the sustainable product concepts. The charging station and lamp are designed as a unit, encouraging the user to connect the two again after usage to ensure that the battery is always charged.
Photo credit: Moa Lundfeldt, Gustav Rossander
High rents, increasing demand of small homes and constantly changing living situations are also notable features of a young designer’s everyday experience. Many of these sustainable product concepts or projects are market-ready more or less. They are distinctly smart, elegant, technology-driven, balanced material use, and focus on customer needs. These 20 sustainable product concepts give a complete overview of what’s going on in contemporary design right now.