William McDonough at Dwell on Design: A More "Effective" Not Just More "Efficient" Future

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The Chicken Tractor, a movable coop on display at Dwell on Design. Photos by R.Cruger

A compact chicken coop for city dwellers that wheels around the yard and fertilizes soil is on display at "Dwell on Design" this weekend. The show's awards recognize a simple bike rack, paper chairs and tables. Presentations range from edible gardens to plans for rising sea levels. On day one of the magazine's three-day conference on sustainable and innovative design, there were stimulating panels and eye-catching new products, Spanish and Japanese cutting-edge designers, and kicking off the event was keynote speaker, visionary architect/designer William McDonough, who asked some leading questions.

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Eat, Play, Live, Work, Create: Dwell's Modern Award nominees.
Dwell's annual design event brings together more than 200 brands and 80 panels, from art in public spaces to case studies of greening historic homes and transforming empty downtown nights into pedestrian-friendly streets. There's also home tours and on-site, the annual ecofabulous showhouse to be auctioned off to benefit Global Green.
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pieceHomes and ecofabulous house to be auctioned for Global Green.

Timeless products and long-lasting design was a theme echoed on panels at the Sustainability Stage. At HP's booth, Stacy Wolff spoke of notebook designs by artists such as Tord Boontje, the Dutch industrial product designer, and also addressed HP's lighter packaging with pulp foam that can be completely recycled curbside. Also, Gretchen Jones, a Project Runway winner whose collection will be available soon through Piper Lime, spoke of making season-spanning clothes and working with a Bolivian co-op on her knitwear.

A conversation with outstanding architect Eric Owen Moss spoke of epic projects such as moving China's Yellow River and the longest tunnel in the world), and how unique practices come from dissatisfaction: "We need an adversary to imagine a better way."

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The sessions led to an inspiring keynote from the award-winning architect/designer William McDonough, who has recently put his Cradle-to-Cradle protocol into the public domain, since it's a "discovery not an invention." He described how design, architecture and the industry can create a future that emphasizes the positive rather than avoiding negative impact, proposing we leave behind new wetlands and design buildings that purify water and are more than 100% more energy productive. He suggests we focus on being effective -- not just efficient; utilizing free sunlight, for instance, not recycling toxic carpeting.

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William McDonough addresses Dwell on Design conference.

His first solar-heated house built in Ireland back in 1976 inspired a poem describing the structure as a "fierce commotion." It's a phrase that describes his other projects, such as an upcoming building in Barcelona with floor plans in the shape of endangered local butterfly wings. McDonough also revealed he's taking on the challenge of recycling millions of pounds of plastic bottle tops.

His Products Innovation Institute lists products from building materials to fabrics, based on C2C, considering energy, water to social fairness, and if designed to be recovered, reused or returned to nature. The site also asks you to submit which five materials you'd like to see in the marketplace.

"It took humans 5,000 years to invent wheels on luggage," said McDonough. "When five percent of the population's thinking changes, the revolution begins." With upcoming projects in the works, he believes we could hit that critical mass soon.

Dwell's award winners, home tours and more to come.

More on Cradle to Cradle:
Cradle to Cradle Announces Green Products Innovation
Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart
USPS Goes Cradle to Cradle

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