Furniture is built for Keeps with focus on waste reduction

May 10, 2022 by  
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Low-quality, mass produced furniture is piling up in the landfills . Seattle-based furniture brand Keeps has taken a stand to produce sustainably sourced, affordable and long-lasting furniture to counter the “fast-furniture’” culture. They recently released their first bedroom pieces.   Keeps is a result of the dedicated efforts of Cofounder Andrew Cheng’s journey through education and training as a designer. The experience saw him move from California to Berlin, back to California and eventually to Washington. When his college furniture looked worse for wear after multiple moves, he decided to put his degree to good use. As a result, he started creating furniture that can be assembled and disassembled countless times.  Related: Keep furniture out of landfills with help from Inhabitr “The innovation behind Keeps comes from the everyday challenges around me,” Cheng said. “The brand aims to solve a lifestyle issue that I and many others experience, especially as the renting population continues to grow.”  The bedroom collection currently includes the Keeps Bed, Headboard, Platform Bed and Nightstand. The classic designs are complemented by modern interlocking assembly techniques that require no tools.  Located in the notably environmentally-focused Pacific Northwest contributes to Keeps’ dedication to sustainable material sourcing. Keeps’ products are built from solid oak. Additionally, they are available in natural and smoke stain options. The wood comes from FSC-certified forests and is domestically sourced. Also, Keeps donates 100 trees through Eden Reforestation Projects for every bed sold.  Furthermore, durability is at the core of each furniture design, both to achieve high-quality products and to minimize waste . Since Keeps’ furniture is designed to be repeatedly taken apart and put back together, individual part replacements further reduce waste. However, the product may outlast the preferences of the owner. As a result, early next year, Keeps plans to launch its buy-back program. This will allow customers who no longer want their items to sell it back to the company where it will be refurbished and resold.  “We want to implement our take-back concept from the get-go and have that commitment with customers who purchase from us today and in 10 years,” Cheng said.  + Keeps Furniture Images via Keeps Furniture

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Furniture is built for Keeps with focus on waste reduction

Seattle apartment is an imaginative response to urban growth

May 9, 2022 by  
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Seattle is expected to grow by another 70,000 residents in the next 20 years. A collaboration between The Miller Hull Partnership and Runberg Architecture Group resulted in a whimsical new style of apartment building. With cantilevered longitudinally placed balconies and a generous public green space in front, 8th and Republican is a different kind of urban residence aiming at a more pleasant and sustainable future. Seattle’s Republican Street is a commercial corridor while 8th Avenue is a busy residential street. As a result, the 8th and Republican development was designed to be mixed use to balance out public and private needs of inhabitants. The new building redevelops half a block of Seattle’s emerging South Lake Union neighborhood with 211 apartments . There will also be a neighborhood café and a photographic equipment room for a longstanding family camera retailer in the neighborhood. Related: Health and wellness come first at this apartment complex The geological and quarry forms inspired the shape of the building in the neighborhood . Installed stormwater infrastructure is visible from the sidewalk. An elevated public walkway called the Megastoop crosses a large rain garden through a stand of trees. The eight-story, post-tensioned concrete building stands behind this garden space. It aims to be more of a backdrop to the scenery than the main event. Furthermore, the café out front features an interactive water feature. The designers say that placing the building back from the street also allowed them to keep the façades simple. It avoids more expensive façade modulation usually required by the Design Review Board. On the other hand, the inside features a two-story lobby . Somethings included are gathering spaces and flexible workspaces for residents. Meanwhile, the roof has a sunset deck with city views. Type l post-tensioned concrete was chosen by the architects for its reduced structural depth. It allowed for the addition of an extra floor and 29 additional apartments in the building. Between concrete slabs, exterior non-bearing walls are framed in wood instead of light-gauge metal to reduce thermal bridging and the need for expensive exterior insulation. Long six by 10-feet balconies extend over the courtyard from a number of apartments, cantilevered to allow for additional expansive views of the green space. The design was awarded an AIA Seattle 2018 Honorable Mention. It’s a unique take on solving urban building challenges while also saving materials, money and conserving green space and biodiversity. + Miller Hull Images via Miller Hull

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Seattle apartment is an imaginative response to urban growth

How will climate change impact different regions in America?

February 21, 2022 by  
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The facts are undeniable: climate change will continue to affect the entire planet in notable and sometimes catastrophic ways. Not all regions will be equally impacted, yet from wildfires to hurricanes, citizens, plants and animals will be touched by the consequences.  The most recent report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program outlines the likely impacts of climate change for each region in the U.S. It’s a comprehensive analysis of how the environment will respond to existing scars like water shortages, soil erosion, deforestation and increased heat. What that looks like in one part of the country is predicted to vary wildly from other areas. What will climate change look like in your backyard? Here’s a breakdown.  Related: UnF*** the Future app uses humor to tackle climate change Northwest It’s a region well known for copious amounts of rain. From Seattle to Portland, memes abound about the rainy lifestyle. However, rain is only part of the equation. Snow in the mountain ranges are crucial to providing adequate water during the warmer, dryer summer months. While the forecast is for rainy days to continue, the report states the area can predict much lower snowpack amounts. That’s bad for salmon runs, tourism, recreation, wildlife and residents. However, it’s also going to contribute to already devastating wildfires and struggles for the dense population of farmers in the region. Southwest The landscape spreads across California through Nevada and over to Arizona, changing from elevations at sea level up through the mountains and back down to desert land. The needs are varied, but one thing is consistent: the reliance on water.  This hot and dry corner of the country already struggles with water shortages and without some seriously innovative solutions, it’s going to reach tragic levels sooner than later.  The prediction is for record-breaking temperatures, longer hot seasons and shorter cool ones, low snow-pack and less rain. The result will be catastrophic for wildlife and citizens, particularly those in low-income areas. Continued wildfires, drought and significant impacts to food production are all on the horizon.  Alaska It’s so huge, it makes up its own region. Surrounded by water across vast coastlines, it’s no surprise water is part of the landscape, both literally and culturally. Industry and lifestyle are closely connected to this crucial resource, from the fishing industry to village life the way it’s been handed down for generations.  Climate change, however, will have a huge impact on these quintessential Alaskan experiences. That’s because acidification is expected to change the properties of the ocean. That kind of habitat change will have detrimental effects on shellfish, salmon, coral and other sea life.  In addition to the effects on marine animals and the resulting economic and cultural impacts, climate change is expected to make the temperature warmer year round, reduce snow, create ideal conditions for wildfires and continue to melt away the permafrost then entire region is literally built on.  Southern Great Plains Vast open regions of land lack protection from wind and violent storms . This assessment reports that it will continue to be the case, with an increase in natural disasters and weather events like heat waves, tornadoes, drought and hurricanes.  Long, hot summers will contribute to drought and challenge agriculture. Down in the Texas gulf region, disease-toting insects, hurricanes, water shortages and power outages will plague the area.  Northern Great Plains In short, the forecast calls for water woes here too. That’s not good, considering the vast amount of agriculture and energy production. Warmer temps means less snow to melt and service the needs of plants, animals, industry and humans. As a reminder of how each system is interrelated, a single species of mountain pine beetle is already credited with clearing huge areas of the forest due to weakened ecology from less snow and rain.  Midwest Soybeans and corn aren’t the only food production at risk, but the impact will be notable. Hot temperatures and less moisture will put farmers and others in the agriculture industry at risk. Wilting plants will cause food shortages and workers will suffer in the heat. The most dire forecast has areas of Illinois looking like the hottest areas of the southwest today within the next 75 years.  Another big problem in the Midwest is protecting the Great Lakes, which provides a high-percentage of the freshwater on the planet. However, industrial and farming pollution is contributing to toxic algae growth and decrease in water quality.  Northeast Even the coastal, well-treed, nature-loving region of the country will not go unscathed, according to the report. In fact, the northern corner is expected to experience the quickest temperature increase in the country. That’s expected to cause sea-level rise, flooding, shortened winters and ocean warming . It will impact industry and animal habitats, including the predicted nearly complete loss of dragonflies.  Southeast The already sunny and hot region will have much more of both by the end of the century. That can elevate uncomfortable to unbearable. Not only will hot days turn into overly muggy nights with little reprieve, but the region could see over three months of additional extreme-heat days annually. This situation will exacerbate the effects of poverty in the area, affect worker productivity and drive up energy requirements.  Hawaii The effects of climate change won’t stop at the contiguous borders of the country. In fact, the Hawaiian Islands can expect rising sea levels , changing and perhaps unpredictable rainfall patterns that lead to drought, flooding and extreme temperatures to balance it all out in the most unhelpful ways.  Hawaiians should prepare for water shortages in some regions and problems like flooding and erosion in others. Animals and plants will also feel the effects, caused by everything from warming waters to soil degradation, to water and energy production.  The one thing every region has in common is increasing temperatures, so in addition to the extinction of countless species, humans may no longer need that soon-to-be relic parka. Then again, perhaps we’ll finally invest in desalination and high-efficiency solar panels . Via Grist Images via Pexels

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How will climate change impact different regions in America?

Green design brings this cabin to the city

February 10, 2022 by  
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They say the key to good real estate is location, location, location. But in the case of this home, dubbed the City Cabin , the architectural and environmental design supersedes its location on a basic urban lot. Set in an established residential area of Seattle , City Cabin is a reflection of the owner’s dedication to nature. This is seen through the selection of natural materials, an urban forest and green design . Related: This backyard cottage in Seattle is only 800 square feet “The client wanted to feel like she was living in the wilderness when, in fact, her home is on a regular-sized urban neighborhood lot,” said Design Principal Jim Olson. The 2,400-square-foot house sits on the corner of the lot in order to accent large gardens on the south and east sides. Plantings of dense greenery and mature trees fill the space for an instant immersion into nature. The home’s orientation lends itself to copious sun exposure and garden views through generous windows in all the primary living spaces.  The design offers natural light and heating that work in conjunction towards the goal of zero-energy consumption. To further support that goal, the home is equipped with solar panels and an air-to-water heat pump.  The layout of City Cabin places the main living area in the center, with wings on either side that house the master suite and the guest space separately. A 16-foot ceiling in the open kitchen and living space is flooded with natural light , even in the often clouded skies of Seattle. The view opens into the landscaped yard for both the indoor-outdoor experience and privacy.  Interior designer Christine Burkland took inspiration from the client’s comprehensive Native American art collection, setting a tone for a palette that includes concrete floors tinted with a red hue. Throughout the space, the client’s love of nature is reflected in the natural, unstained plywood chosen for its durability and simplicity. The facade is composed of reclaimed fir siding sourced from a nearby fruit storage warehouse. Recycled for the project, the wood will weather naturally with minimal maintenance. A sedum green galvanized steel roof further complements the natural design elements.  “The client is an avid conservationist dedicated to preserving existing forests ,” said Olson. “Here, she is creating a tiny new forest in the heart of the city.” + Olson Kundig  Photography by Aaron Leitz

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Green design brings this cabin to the city

Check out these tiles that promote healthy interiors

February 10, 2022 by  
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One of the challenges that individuals in sustainable construction face is maintaining a balance of environmentally-friendly construction and aesthetics in order to foster a healthy living environment. However, through selective material choice, this can be achieved. Andrea Hörndler and Hannes Wizany document one such example in their blog, “Place to Be.” They set out to construct an ecological house that is fully sustainable without sacrificing design. Their eco-house incorporates a variety of environmentally-friendly materials, including Agrob Buchtal tiles that are eco-friendly, elegant and improve indoor air quality. Located on a steep hill in the outskirts of Linz, Austria, Hörndler and Wizany’s house floats over the landscape. The sustainably-harvested wood volume suspends from a recycled steel structure that projects off the steep hillside. In view of the climate, the house features insulation made from salvaged wheat straw and building panels made from straw , clay plaster and clay slabs. Related: These beautiful tiles are made from recycled eggshells One of the challenges Hörndler and Wizany faced was designing the bathroom ecologically, especially since waterproofing materials are often unsustainable. However, they finally settled on using Agrob Buchtal ceramic tiles for walls and floors. The wall tiles used in the eco-house are from Agrob Buchtal’s District series. They are beveled on all sides and reminiscent of the white tiles found in metro stations of large cities. Their trendy, bright hue complements the more muted, modern grey floor tiles . For maximum benefit, both types of tiles incorporate the Hytect effect. This enhances antibacterial properties, is easy to clean and improves air quality. The Hytect effect uses the concept of photocatalysis, which means light is used to incite a chemical reaction. The tiles use a mixture of clay and titanium dioxide. The titanium dioxide acts as a catalyst, which induces reactions between light, oxygen and humidity. Through this process, the tiles form active oxygen species that can eliminate odors and air pollutants, and even prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and algae. Since the Hytect effect is part of the ceramic mixture, it does not wear off and is reactivated with exposure to artificial or natural light . The tiles are also hydrophilic, or water-friendly. When the tiles are wet, the water spreads out as a film on the tile. This mixes with dirt and wipes off without the use of harsh cleaning products. Through conscious design decisions, sustainable material choices, like Agrob Buchtal tiles, does not need to be dull and unattractive. Conversely, they can enhance the visual quality of a space , whilst minimizing environmental impact. + Agrob Buchtal Images via Lumina Kreativagentur and Ourplacetobe

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Check out these tiles that promote healthy interiors

Indoor-outdoor living drives this design for VAVA House

January 20, 2022 by  
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Architecture takes a variety of forms and serves many purposes, but most people would agree that the best home is one that meets the family’s needs and lifestyle goals. To this end, VAVA House was designed to emphasize indoor-outdoor living through shared space and a connection to the outdoors.  Designed by Fivedot Architects, this Seattle , Washington home caters to the client’s desire for a space that reinforces family connection within the home and community relationships outside the home. Unlike most residential homes that open into the backyard, VAVA House opens outdoor living into the front yard where it can be shared with neighbors.  Related: Brutalist home in Puerto Rico is resistant to weather Inside, cozy coves beneath the staircase and in a narrow TV viewing area provide space for reflection and relaxation. Larger areas are equipped for group gatherings, whether that be family , neighbors or friends. In all, the house features four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an open floor plan throughout the main living area, a home gym, lounge, office and bonus room in a 3,643-square-foot space.  Out front, the home features an expansive patio with gathering areas, a custom-made wood swing, and heat sources such as a firepit and heater for year-round entertaining. The swing incorporates  recycled  roof joists from the previous home and souvenir hardware the clients brought back from India.  Plants  and landscaping surround the home, including a green roof and beds along the front yard and street. The theme continues with a custom plant rack for hydroponic growing. Previous concrete on-site is fashioned into the design to minimize water runoff and waste. Extensive solar panels produce renewable energy for the home. Fun, custom additions adorn the home. Prints of the children’s first steps are imprinted into the floor, and mural prints by Mario de Miranda decorate the walls. + Fivedot Images via Mark Woods

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Meditation cottage fits on the tiniest lakefront space

January 20, 2022 by  
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Sometimes, architecture is about specific design elements or striking visual characteristics. Sometimes, it’s more about letting the location of the structure have the last word. Situated on a slim slice of shorefront land in eastern Finland, the Kynttilä ( candle ) is a sustainable meditation cottage that honors unique location requirements.  The Nunnanniemi Peninsula is located in Lake Saimaa near Savonlinna in eastern Finland close to the Russian border. Due to the very narrow nature of the peninsula, a small building footprint was essential. The designers at ORTRAUM Architects met the challenge with a tiny home that not only caters to the special needs of the surrounding nature reserve, but highlights views of the water on both sides of the peninsula.  Related: Cozy waterfront cottage transforms old foundations using natural materials To ensure minimal site impact , the builders constructed a temporary road to move materials into the build site for a single day when assembly took place. Plants and other vegetation were protected and put back into their original place once the work was done.  The concept of Kynttilä is one of Zen and meditation. With a minimalist philosophy, the space is situated to encourage focus and calmness. A massive window provides an undeniable connection to the natural environment on the other side and the water element is ever present. Natural light floods the space in any weather.  Material composition is made up almost entirely of cross-laminated timber (CLT). The exterior is clad in larch wood that immerses the cottage into the surrounding trees. Exposed indoors create a light and organic space. Even the furniture and the front door are made from the same CLT. At night, the cabin illuminates like a candle, which can be seen flickering in the forest from around the lake.  + ORTRAUM Architects Images via ORTRAUM Architects

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Meditation cottage fits on the tiniest lakefront space

Electric bus network expected to be in the US in 2022

December 23, 2021 by  
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Over Thanksgiving weekend, FlixBus USA made transit history by transporting a busload of passengers on the first interstate fully electric bus journey. “The driver said there was just this kind of bit of a glow in the bus,” said Pierre Gourdain, managing director of FlixBus USA . “People were really proud. It’s a historic moment.” Related: 20 new electric vehicles driving onto the scene in 2022 But don’t try to book your electric bus ticket yet. The Seattle to Eugene, Oregon trip last month was part of a pilot program. It’s going to take a lot of money and infrastructure buildout before electric buses are plying the nation’s interstates on long-haul journeys. Gourdain talked to Inhabitat about how we might get there and about FlixBus’ place in U.S. transit. FlixBus 101 FlixMobility, the umbrella group that owns the FlixBus and FlixTrain brands, launched in Germany in 2013. The three founders Jochen Engert, Daniel Krauss and André Schwämmlein aimed to combine e-commerce with technological advances and sustainable transportation. The company quickly took off in Europe , becoming the continent’s largest intercity bus network and now running in more than 30 countries. In 2018, FlixBus USA began to conquer the new world, starting in the southwest. Its patchwork expansion around the U.S. accelerated over the next few years. In October of 2021, FlixMobility showed the depth of its commitment to U.S. bus lines by buying Greyhound. For now, Gourdain says, Greyhound and FlixBus will operate as separate brands. “We have a majority of women riding our buses,” Gourdain said. “And the rest of the industry has a majority of men riding in the buses. Ours probably skews a bit younger. We have a lot of students, but also a lot of young professionals. It’s also a bit more urban and less rural. It’s a bit more point to point.” While Greyhound customers may stagger up to a counter in a bus station and pay in cash, FlixBus riders are buying tickets through their phones. Gourdain emphasized that FlixBus is tapping into a whole new market of Americans who want a long-haul alternative to cars or planes. Partnerships with bus companies Now here comes the confusing part. FlixBus doesn’t actually own all those green buses zooming through the highways. In Europe, hundreds of individual bus companies are driving for FlixBus, from Portugal to Norway. FlixBus USA has about 50 private bus company partners. These are the kinds of businesses you call when you want to charter a bus for your high school football team or your church group. “It works a bit like a franchise ,” Gourdain said. “So basically, a partner will come to FlixBus and say, ‘Hey, I really want to get into this long-distance bus game.’” The bus companies themselves buy the coaches, hire the drivers and operate the routes. FlixBus sells the tickets, plans and markets the routes and builds the brand. In the pacific northwest, MTRWestern operates the routes, and drove the Thanksgiving weekend pilot electric run from Seattle to Eugene. The Seattle -based bus company hopes to be FlixBus’ first partner in developing regular electric bus service. Building an electric bus network So what is it going to take to build out a full electric bus network connecting U.S. cities? Well, first you need the buses. Then you need places to charge them. “Those buses are not for sale yet, so you can’t really put your hands on them,” Gourdain said. “And they’re also super costly.” MTRWestern has applied for a grant with the state of Oregon that will pay part of the cost of new electric coaches as they retire old, polluting diesel buses. Next problem, the approximately 200-mile range. This works okay for transit systems operating within a city, where only one charging station is needed, the buses are always close to their power source and the transit operator buys in bulk. Out on the open roads, it’s another matter. While Gourdain says it’s possible to power a bus from an electric car charger, it’s going to take a while. Driving 200 miles, then taking an eight hour charging break is not going to thrill long-haul travelers . FlixBusUSA is counting on the infrastructure bill passed in November allocating $65 billion to improve the U.S. power grid and $39 billion allocated to public transit systems. Advancing technology should drive charging times down further, battery ranges will increase and more public power stations for large vehicles will become available. The recent pilot run from Seattle to Eugene was possible because of Portland’s Electric Island, a heavy-duty electric truck charging site. Daimler Trucks North America and Portland General Electric opened the eight-vehicle charging station in April. It powers up electric cars, buses and even semi-trucks and is open to the public. Helping its operating partners get electric buses and finding charging stations are two very large challenges. Still, FlixBusUSA intends to have a full-time electric bus route up and running in 2022, probably in Oregon. And if that proves successful, it can spiderweb across the U.S. as buses and charging stations become available. “Today, clean transportation is an elite thing,” Gourdain said. “The entry to ride electric with FlixBus is $19. We are already the cheapest way to travel in the U.S. compared to anything else. There’s nothing cheaper than Flixbus. We want that experience, the cheapest, to also be clean and electric.” + FlixBus Images via FlixBus

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Electric bus network expected to be in the US in 2022

Put this tiny home Cabin One anywhere

December 23, 2021 by  
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Cabin Spacey’s Cabin One is a prefab micro-apartment you can put anywhere — on an apartment building roof or in the mountains. It comes pre-wired for lighting with heated floors and towel racks, a skylight and a membrane roof. All you need is a place to put it. Where should you quarantine next? We wish we didn’t have to ask that question, but the truth is that the pandemic has given many people the opportunity to choose where they hunker down. Where better than the Cabin One ? The Cabin One is created with spruce timber frame construction and cellulose insulation. It also has its own ventilation system. You’ll notice it has a bathroom, but the bed sits on top of storage space like you’d see in a tiny apartment in a city. The rest of the cabin, from the kitchen to the living area, is all open to the bedroom area. It’s a comfy setup for a couple on vacation or downsizing to a tiny home. Related: Go glamping in Canada at this mirror cabin The Cabin One has 25 square meters of space inside, which means just enough for a cozy wood-paneled retreat, whether that’s your main abode or a vacation getaway. The cabin can be customized with many details, equipped with solar, or taken off-grid. The designers will work with your architect to prepare the paperwork needed for a permit, depending on where you want to locate the home. Renewable raw materials were used to create the cabin. It also has a prefab construction, so you can have the whole thing finished and delivered on site without the mess and waste of on-site construction. A foundation must be in place with ready wiring on delivery of the Cabin One, which is delivered by crane onto the waiting base. “We have reduced the complexity of the construction industry to three important elements: comfort, quality and user experience,” said Designer Simon Becker. “We do not think in square meters, we think in features.” Large windows, including a big slider door on the side, give the Cabin One a more expansive feel than many tiny homes. It creates the feeling of a modern, backwoods cabin. A small sink and induction burner give the kitchen surface a streamlined but functional feel. At the far end, past the loft bed, you’ll find a cozy bathroom with ceramic tiles . We love the thick overhang on the end of the 10.10 meter-long interior, which both protect a bit from weather and serve as a pleasant design element. The Cabin One is 3.43 meters wide, with a total height of 3.69 meters, so there’s plenty of head room as well. The Cabin One model starts at $120,300. If you’re looking for a backyard studio apartment or a tiny vacation home, this is one to consider. + Cabin One Images via Cabin Spacey

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Dash Linear turns cardboard into high-performance lighting

September 6, 2021 by  
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As part of  interior design , lighting serves a greater purpose than illumination alone. Fixtures set the tone of a room and work as a central element in the theme. Graypants Studio, with offices in Seattle and Amsterdam, takes the look of its lighting products seriously while placing a focus on producing them sustainably. The studio’s newest release, Dash Linear, is a high-performance lighting option for newly-created home-work spaces, home additions or upgraded kitchens. Dash Linear is the latest installment in Graypants’ Scraplight series, an appropriate name considering they are made out of recycled and virgin cardboard. Related: Serif + Sero modular furniture is made of 100% upcycled cardboard It may seem counterintuitive to make lighting out of paper, but the team at Graypants is dedicated to marrying modern and  minimalist  designs with technical function while maintaining a low carbon footprint. To this end, Dash Linear is handmade using a low-impact manufacturing process that includes zero-VOC adhesive and limited material waste.  Dash Linear is currently available across North America and offered in three finishes — natural, white and blonde.  Recycled  cardboard is used for the natural Dash, while virgin corrugated cardboard is used for the white and blonde options. There are height and length options, as well as differing brightness levels for a custom feel over a desk or other workstation. Available lengths are 48 or 93 inches. Height options range from 4 to 12 inches. While lit, Dash Linear relies on  energy-efficient  LED modules and can offer direct or uniform lighting. The flagship Scraplight line also includes table lamp options made from recycled materials and mounted on a brass base. Graypants Studio also creates pendant lamps in a variety of shapes and finishes.  Graypants explains that the studio “was founded as an opportunity to apply an architectural mindset to product design and art —enhancing space and enriching experiences. Graypants’ work, rooted in light-minded design, includes architecture, product design, art installation and exhibition, and fixture design.”  + Graypants Images via Graypants

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Dash Linear turns cardboard into high-performance lighting

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