10 easy eco-friendly home decor tips

February 28, 2019 by  
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Decorating a home is intimidating enough without taking the environment into account, but choosing eco-friendly decor will be more beneficial in the long run. Here are some simple tips and rules for green alternatives in home decorating that will help reduce your  carbon footprint and even save you some money along the way. Perks of vintage The simplest way to positively affect the environment with your home decor choices is to buy pre-used. Some people even prefer a more wear-and-tear or “distressed” look. Not to mention, vintage decor is chic and costs way less than buying new. So head over to your local thrift store, estate sales or flea markets (you can even raid your grandma’s attic for forgotten treasures). If you still can’t find anything to your taste, Ebay and other media sites are a great place to explore pretty much anything vintage. Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home Choose sustainably-sourced materials Work with companies that are focused on ethical labor standards and fair trade. There are some great globally inspired home products that give back to the artisans and communities who make their pieces and are passionate about eco-friendly decor. Obviously, one of the best material for furniture is wood, but making sure that you choose a wood that doesn’t contribute to the deforestation epidemic is just as important as choosing the style of furniture itself. Make sure all wood is FSC certified and sustainably-sourced. Donate When you absolutely do need to get rid of something in your home, choose to donate it or even sell it. Even if you don’t make much money off the sale, it still means that the item transferred its value to someone else (and more importantly, didn’t end up in a dumpster or landfill ). The Goodwill is an amazing organization that gives back to the community and ReStore by Habitat for Humanity has a free pick-up program that will help local families find homes. Most donations are tax-deductible as well. Don’t assume that just because it is used or old that no one will want it. Use non-toxic materials Whether you’re painting your walls or repurposing a piece of furniture, the type of paint you choose matters. Eco-friendly paints are free of volatile organic compounds or “VOCs,” which can be harmful to both the environment and to humans. Even carpet has been known to emit high levels of VOCs and contribute to accumulations of allergens . Houseplants A well-cared-for houseplant can give renewed life to any space. There are even some houseplants such as ferns or palms that can increase oxygen and help purify your home. Houseplants are a less-expensive decoration that adds a natural, fresh accent and can combat pollutants and chemicals produced from man-made materials. Thermal alternatives Even a plain thermal lining can drastically reduce how much hot or cold air is escaping from your home. This will also save money on your electricity bill and make your home that much more comfortable for your family and guests. For eco-friendly insulation, there are alternatives to fiberglass made from sustainable materials like wool or hemp. Related: 6 places to find the best recycled building materials Repurpose It may take a little more elbow grease, but DIY-ing your old stuff into new stuff is more rewarding and satisfying than buying new every time. Repaint wooden tables to match your new decor with an artsy pattern or reupholster your old chairs to make them look brand new. If your creative side refuses to come out, hire someone else to do the job. It will still cost less money than buying new while still feeling new to you. Look out for furniture made from reclaimed and salvaged materials like aluminum and recycled wood as well. Go with timeless styles One of the biggest problems with home decor is changing trends. A type of furniture or style may be in vogue one year and out of style the next. That leaves trendy homeowners with the options of either getting rid of their decor or repurposing it in order to keep up. Investing in sturdy, timeless designs will ensure that your home decor never goes out of style and you get plenty of use out of it before it needs to be altered or donated. Use nature Go wildflower picking or gather herbs from the garden to decorate. Add natural accents like citrus to elevate a vase or candle holder for a special effect, or use cranberries or holly during the holidays. Driftwood is also a wonderful alternative for doorstops or shelving and can be DIY -ed into wall art. Sometimes the most memorable and special decorations can be found in the most unlikely places. Redecorate If your home is feeling dull and in dire need of an upgrade, sometimes just a simple change of scenery can make all the difference. Try moving furniture or shelving around, switching out photos or re-arranging artwork onto different walls. You may save yourself a lot of unnecessary effort and stress just by finding new spots for your furniture in your home . Images via Shutterstock

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Net-zero Maine house is designed to blend into the forest with age

February 28, 2019 by  
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When the owner of a beautiful natural site in Falmouth, Maine tapped Portland-based architectural studio Kaplan Thompson Architects to design his house, it was clear from the beginning that the forested surroundings would play a major role in the design. Not only did the architects use a predominately timber palette to bring the woods indoors, but the two-story home was also engineered to produce all of its own energy to reduce impact on the environment. Dubbed the Blackwood House, the net-zero dwelling is fitted with a variety of renewable energy systems and low-maintenance materials for long-term sustainability. Topped with a slanted roof, the Blackwood House takes on a shed-like appearance with a utilitarian vibe that’s strengthened by the exterior surface materials. Combined in what the architects call a “complex textile pattern”, the low-maintenance and cost-effective facade includes weathering steel, fiber cement board (Viroc), and black-stained cedar (Maibec), all of which will develop a natural patina over time. An open timber-framed carport completes the utilitarian look while keeping the design within budget. “Unlike contemporary modern spaces that are cold and sterile, this house is modern and sleek yet roughhewn,” the architects say of the two-story house. “With fine woodworking alongside the clean lines of the interior structure, raw and cooked come together in harmony. Taking into consideration the beauty of the surrounding natural forest, this design places focus on exposed materials in their most basic form. Timber beams throughout the living areas bring the woods inside and provide structure to the rooms. Hidden storage and flowing spaces combine with large, strategically placed windows to allow the forest and natural light to take center stage.” Related: Kaplan Thompson Architects Unveil Super-Efficient Harborview Townhomes in Portland, Maine Completed in 2017, the Blackwood House spans an area of 2,775 square feet yet feels even larger thanks to full-height glazing that frames views of the outdoors, while a treehouse -like feel is achieved in the second floor balcony. Careful construction and triple-glazed windows ensure that the light-filled, open-plan interior maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round. Photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof of the carport power the energy-efficient home. + Kaplan Thompson Architects Images by Irvin Serrano via Kaplan Thompson Architects

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This modern home built to house a renowned art collection is a work of art in itself

January 29, 2019 by  
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Make no mistake — lovers of art reside here. Designed and built by Hufft, The Artery Residence is gorgeous, eco-friendly and just as art-focused on the inside as it is on the outside. The owners, prominent contemporary art collectors, wanted a blend of home and gallery that allows them to live comfortably while displaying their impressive art collection in a modern way. The designer clearly made the space as a unique backdrop for the art installation in mind, with blank, clean walls enabling the owners to rotate and move the art as they please. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the master bathroom allow for views of nature near the tub, warm wood accents, mosaic tiles and quartz counters. The home gets its name not only from the art-centric design , but from the three main “arteries” that connect the structure to the gallery. In this way, each part of the home is connected to the art. There are two guest suites, one that sits poolside, and another that extends dramatically over a limestone wall. Made of cedar, aluminum and limestone, both the exterior and interior invoke sleek, clean lines. In the kitchen, a custom-made modern chandelier with custom island and wooden bar top, with a more formal dining room are visible in a separate area. The Artery Residence is an excellent example of sustainable architecture. The stone floors act as an eco-friendly light absorber, along with big open windows that let that natural light in. Throughout the house are installed large overhangs that hang over the outer structure offering protection from the sun. In efforts to lessen the environmental footprint of the house, the architect incorporated geothermal, active solar and LED lighting into the design. The landscape, designed by 40North, was installed with sustainable garden growth in mind with natural vegetation and permeable surfaces. Related: Concrete home perched on Greek island cliffside designed with large cut outs to frame the amazing sea views Throughout 10,650 square feet of living space, thoughtful spaces cut into the floors and screened wooden stairs ensures the central visibility of the owner’s art collection. Also part of the home are matching office spaces and three separate bedrooms with their own en suites. The art doesn’t stop when you reach the outside, either. Striking sculptural pieces are respectfully spread throughout the grounds outside the home, along the terraces and near the pool deck. One of the large entrances that opens to the gallery allows for the loading of large art pieces and for visitors to enter without disturbing the occupants of the home . + Hufft Via Dwell Photography by Michael Robinson via Hufft

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This modern home built to house a renowned art collection is a work of art in itself

Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata

January 10, 2019 by  
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West Bengal’s biggest annual festival recently saw the addition of a strikingly contemporary pavilion that is 100 percent recyclable in Kolkata , India. Designed by Abin Chaudhuri of the firm Abin Design Studio , the metal mesh pavilion was one of many temporary pavilions — or pandals — constructed to honor the goddess Durga as part of a five-day Hindu festival called Durga Puja. Unlike the other pandals, which are typically built of natural materials and reference traditional motifs and artworks, Abin Design Studio’s creation is architecturally modern with a dynamic form made from steel wire cubes. Installed inside an alley surrounded by buildings, Abin Design Studio’s Festival Pavilion stands out from its predecessors for the way it embraces the site. Rather than covering up the buildings, Abin Chaudhuri regarded the structures as a backdrop for his stacked cubes of steel wire mesh. The pavilion , which appears as a heap of cubes threatening to topple at any moment, is not only used to frame the deity, but it has also been manipulated to create an entrance arch and immersive sculptural artwork. “The installation is based on the idea of ‘Childhood,’” Abin Design Studio explained. “At the entrance of the installation, an abstract flight of birds overhead depicts the freedom of thought and creativity in young children. The wings gradually diminish and the birds tessellate into an array of boxes. Along with the deconstructed arrangement, the boxes put forward a commentary on the scenario of a child’s immense inherent potential getting slowly confined into a metaphorical box. The form of the installation then compels the viewer into a ‘void’, a place to sit and contemplate, in the axial presence of ‘Maa Durga.’” Related: A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor All parts of the temporary 350-square-meter pavilion are recyclable , from the steel mesh cubes and bamboo framing system to the plywood support system for the platform and stage as well as the old newspaper folded into origami birds. Moreover, the pavilion was also created as a module that could be replicated to activate forgotten urban spaces throughout the city, even in non-festival times. + Abin Design Studio Photography by Suryan/Dang, Abin Chaudhari, Sohomdeep Sinha Roy and Nancy Mandhan via Abin Design Studio

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Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata

‘Uncanny’ Art Repurposes Recyclables

December 18, 2018 by  
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For some innovative upcyclers, aluminum is a favorite material. It … The post ‘Uncanny’ Art Repurposes Recyclables appeared first on Earth911.com.

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A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor

December 6, 2018 by  
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In their latest installment of Literature vs Traffic, Spanish design collective luzinterruptus transformed a major street in Ann Arbor , Michigan, into a glowing river of 11,000 books. Carried out to bring attention to the importance of pedestrian-friendly spaces, the large-scale installation turned an area typically marred by the sounds and pollution of cars into a quiet haven. At the end of the night, all the books were quickly “recycled” and taken home by visitors as a keepsake of the temporary event. Luzinterruptus’ most recent installation of Literature vs Traffic—the artwork had previously been displayed in Toronto, Melbourne, Madrid and New York—was briefly brought to life at Ann Arbor on October 23, 2018 thanks to the invitation of the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities and its curator, Amanda Krugliak. The design collective felt the Michigan city was a fitting choice due to its reputation as a book loving college town and its proximity to Detroit , the birthplace of the U.S. automobile industry. “We want literature to take over the streets and to become the conqueror of all public places, offering passersby a traffic-free area that will, for a few hours, surrender to the humble might of the written word,” explain the designers. “Thus, a place in the city usually dedicated to speed, pollution , and noise, shall turn, for one night, into a place of peace, quiet, and coexistence, lighted by the soft dim light issued from the book pages.” Related: Glowing labyrinth made from plastic waste pops up in Buenos Aires The university organized a book donation drive to collect the 11,000 books used in the installation and also helped to temporarily close the major intersection of State Street and Liberty Street for 24 hours. A team of 90 volunteers also pitched in to help prepare and embed the books with tiny lights. On October 23, a glowing river of books was laid out for a few hours until nightfall, when visitors were invited to enter the ‘river’ and take the books home. All the books disappeared in less than two hours, leaving the street clean and empty by midnight. + luzinterruptus Images by Melisa Hernández and John Eikost  

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Studio Roosegaardes laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky

October 12, 2018 by  
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A dazzling neon green light show is illuminating the night skies in Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s latest large-scale art installation, the Space Waste Lab Performance. Created as part of the Space Waste Lab , the performance uses real-time tracking information to render the space waste floating above our heads visible with bright green LEDs that follow the movement of the drifting waste. The series of live installations kicked off on October 5 in the Dutch city of Almere and aims to call attention to the problem of space waste as well as sustainable upcycling solutions. According to Studio Roosegaarde, there are currently more than 29,000 items of space waste  — approximately 8.1 million kilograms worth — floating around the earth. Classified as objects greater than 10 centimeters, the waste comprises anything from parts of broken rockets to chipped-off satellite pieces. The drifting junk poses a danger to current satellites and can disrupt digital communications, however there is no clear plan on how to fix the growing issue. In response, the Dutch design studio launched Space Waste Lab with support from the European Space Agency to bring attention to the issue and find ways to upcycle the waste into sustainable products. The Space Waste Lab Performance that launched early this month marks the first phase of the living lab. Created in compliance with strict safety and aviation regulations, the large-scale light show uses cutting-edge software and camera technology to track pieces of drifting space waste in real time with high-powered, neon green LEDs that project a distance of 125,000 to 136,000 miles. “I’m a strong believer in cooperation between technologists and artists,” said  ESA Director Franco Ongaro about Space Waste Lab. “Artists not only communicate vision and feelings to the public but help us discover aspects of our work which we are often unable to perceive. This cooperation is all the more important when dealing with issues like space debris, which may one day impact our future and our ability to draw maximum benefits from space. We need to speak in different ways, to convey not just the dry technological aspects of technology, but the emotions involved in the struggle to preserve this environment for future generations.” Related: Daan Roosegaarde unveils mind-expanding 295-foot SPACE installation in Eindhoven Space Waste Lab will be open to the public at Kunstlinie in Almere until January 19, 2019 and is complemented by the “Space @ KAF” exhibition next door. The Space Waste Lab Performance will be exhibited after sunset on the nights of October 5 and 6; November 9 and 10; December 7 and 8; and January 18 and 19, 2019. The surrounding street and commercial lights will be turned off at those times to enhance the experience. Phase 2 of the program begins after January 2019 and will study ways to capture and upcycle space waste. + Studio Roosegaarde Via Dezeen Images via Studio Roosegaarde

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Studio Roosegaardes laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky

MVRDV introduces a psychedelic blend of art and architecture in Paradise City

September 25, 2018 by  
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Dutch design firm MVRDV recently completed its latest project: The Imprint, an art-entertainment complex near Seoul’s Incheon Airport that toes the line between art and architecture. Completed as part of the city’s Paradise City complex, The Imprint features strikingly sculptural facades painted white and gold that can be easily recognized from the sky as passengers land at Incheon Airport. The eye-catching visuals of the windowless exteriors are echoed in the interiors, which were installed with mirrored ceilings and glass media floors for a psychedelic effect. MVRDV’s The Imprint complex includes a nightclub in the building marked by a golden entrance spot as well as an indoor theme park in the other building. Both structures featured dramatic lifted entrances designed in such a way to mimic the look of draped fabric. Despite the facades’ malleable appearance, glass-fiber reinforced concrete panels were used to construct the exteriors, and the 3,869 panels are unique and individually produced from the architects’ 3D modeling files. The panels were painted white to highlight the relief in the design. “Two months ago most of the cladding was done and the client said, ‘this is an art piece,’” said Winy Maas, principle and co-founder of MVRDV. “What is interesting about that is that they are looking for that momentum — that entertainment can become art or that the building can become artistic in that way. What, then, is the difference between architecture and  art ? The project plays with that and I think that abstraction is part of it, but it has to surprise, seduce and it has to calm down.” Related: MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center Connected with a shared central courtyard , the two buildings were heavily influenced by the site context. Features from the neighboring buildings, such as window and door shapes, were replicated in the relief as if they were imprinted on, while the massing and height of the new construction also respond to the existing architecture. + MVRDV Images © Ossip van Duivenbode

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MAD unveils biophilic home of the future that produces all its own energy in China

September 25, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based MAD Architects recently completed its “home of the future” prototype, a net-zero energy pavilion that aims to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living. Created in collaboration with Chinese renewable energy company Hanergy, the “Living Garden” features a curvaceous, latticed roof topped with Hanergy solar panels that are angled for optimal solar conditions and generate enough electricity to satisfy the daily needs of a household of three. The futuristic structure was installed as part of the 2018 China House Vision Exhibition located next to the Bird’s Nest Stadium inside Beijing’s Olympic Park. Conceived as an experimental model, “Living Garden” does not have much in common with a traditional house. Rather, the structure was built like an airy pavilion filled with lush green space and seating. The nature-inspired structure consists of three main parts: a series of angled solar panels, a latticed timber roof structure and columns and various living spaces and gardens on the ground level. The grid-like roof is inset with translucent, waterproof glass to provide shelter from the rain. Hard angles were eschewed in favor of organic curves, while the addition of feathery grasses and trees help soften the overall look. “Defying notions of the traditional home, where walls and roofs form boundaries, MAD’s design envisions an ‘en-plein-air’ atmosphere,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Maintaining an openness toward the sky and its surroundings, ‘Living Garden’ sees life, ( solar ) energy and nature coincide, seamlessly blending together to create an architectural ‘living’ landscape — one that emphasizes humanity’s emotional connection with nature.” Related: MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art MAD Architects and Hanergy’s “Living Garden” installation will be on show until Nov. 6, 2018. Launched as a cultural research project by Japanese graphic designer and curator Kenya Hara, the 2018 China House Vision Exhibition commissioned the design and construction of ten 1:1 scale “home of the future” pavilions. + MAD Architects Images via MAD Architects

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MAD unveils biophilic home of the future that produces all its own energy in China

MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art

August 17, 2018 by  
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How do you bring young people back into Japan’s rural areas? One popular answer seems to be with art and architecture. In one of the country’s latest rural revitalization efforts, Beijing-based design studio MAD Architects was invited to reactivate the long-forgotten Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel in the Niigata prefecture. Created for the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale, this series of permanent artistic interventions aims to help bring back “the cultural energy that once empowered the region.” Set in the heart of Japan’s snow country, Echigo-Tsumari is a mountainous, agricultural region where more than a third of the community comprises the elderly (at least 65 years of age). In a bid to attract young people back to the countryside, Fram Kitagawa founded the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale in 2000. The art field hosts approximately 160 site-specific artworks across 200 villages in an area greater than 760 square kilometers. For this year’s program, MAD Architects was invited to re-imagine the historic Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel, a 750-meter passageway carved through rock that offers stunning panoramic views. In a project dubbed “Tunnel of Light,” MAD created five interventions along the historic tunnel to follow the five elements of nature — wood, earth, metal, fire and water. The first installation (wood) is the “Periscope,” a small timber hut that houses a cafe, shop and hot spring foot spa with a circular aperture surrounded by mirrored lenses. “Expression of Color” (earth) marks the tunnel entrance and is outfitted with atmospheric music and different colored lights at each lookout point. The first of the modified lookout points is “Invisible Bubble” (metal), featuring a reflective and introspective capsule-like structure that only allows one-way views from the inside out. “The Drop” (fire) at the second lookout point comprises mirrored “dew drops” attached to the ceiling and walls and back-lit by red light. The “Tunnel of Light” culminates with the “Light Cave” (water), where semi-polished stainless steel elements bring reflections of gorge into the tunnel to create “an infinite illusion of nature.” Related: Futuristic “spaceship” Lucas Museum breaks ground in Los Angeles “MAD’s ‘Tunnel of Light’ is an artistic transformation that demonstrates how art and nature can come together to reinvigorate a community,” the designers said in a project statement. “Each one of the installations forms a poetic space where visitors can transcend the role of observer and become an active participant — allowing individuals to place themselves in nature in unexpected ways.” + MAD Architects Images by Nacasa Partners Inc and Osamu Nakamura

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