Greener Gadgets 2010: Yves Béhar's Hacked Car Concept, Green Underwear project, and Top 3 Design Principles


Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

The first keynote of the day at Greener Gadgets came from Yves Behar, founder of fuseproject and one of our favorite designers around TreeHugger, dreaming up things from bike helmets to the One Laptop Per Child computer. And its no surprise why. He's all about integrating sustainability into every aspect of design, from cars to undies. During his talk, Behar covered some cool design projects that illustrate what he lists as the three most important principles for designers to follow if we want to see real change in how sustainable our stuff - and our world - can be.Two of the top innovations Behar highlighted from his work included a hackable car concept. The idea is to create an electric car where the engine and chassis is standard, but the buyer controls all the rest. The windshield and rear window, headlights and tail lights, and other features of the fron t and back would be made exactly the same so that the number of manufactured parts is minimized, and from there the consumer creates their ideal vehicle to suit their needs. Few parts, ultimate user control. Seriously cool idea.

While this is a concept, there's another project that is equally green but already on the market. It's his PACT project, where designers and nonprofits combine efforts to create and distribute what could possibly be called the world's greenest underwear.

The designers looked at the system for creating the underwear and found a way to source the entire product within a 100 mile radius in Turkey. From the growing of the organic cotton, to the milling, to the printing with vegetable-based inks, to the sewing and packaging, everything is done within a 100 mile radius to not only help farmers and workers earn solid wages, but also to minimize transportation of goods as much as possible. Each design - which changes every six weeks - is connected to a vetted nonprofit such as Oceana or ForestEthics, who recieves 10% of the profits.

Behar also stressed that this system highlights how design needs to change. He noted that designers are usually just part of creating a product, but if they can be allowed to be part of a company's team and have input throughout the entire business, from marketing to product design to distribution, then designers can help develop a new business ethic that keeps sustainability at the forefront.

Behar listed three key principles that designers can and should apply, whether or not they're part of the business from front end to back end, or simply working on a one-time project. They are:

1. Push green not as a constraint, but as the sexiest tool in the design toolbox
2. Move away from short term design and into creating things that will last - whether its a product or an idea, make it a legacy.
3. Get design everywhere it is needed - don't just design for the developed world and hope the rest of the world can catch up.

He concluded with a great thought - if it can't be ethical, it can't be beautiful, and if it can't be beautiful, then it shouldn't be at all.

More on Greener Gadgets 2010
Greener Gadgets 2010: What's the Greenest Gadget of The Year?
Greener Gadgets 2010: What Do Top Concepts Say About Us, Electronics Industry?
Greener Gadgets 2010: Design Competition Winner Isn't A Gadget At All

Tags: Designers | Environmental Footprint

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