Barcelona Cultura

Catalonia Ecodesign Award 2019 Exhibition: We talked with the award-winning projects

Since mid-December, and on the occasion of the temporary exhibition "Victor Papanek: The politics of design", the Design Museum of Barcelona hosts in the lobby of the building the exhibition Catalonia Ecodesign Award 2019. The exhibition brings together the winning and shortlisted products, convened by the Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Generalitat of Catalonia in collaboration with Waste Agency of Catalonia, with the aim of recognizing products and services that, through sustainable design criteria, reduce the environmental impact of their life cycle and contribute to the circular economy. We talked to some of the recognized designers at the awards.

Alpine, Gerard Arqué (Escofet_Lab)

Annual aggregate consumption in Catalonia increases to about 30 million tons. How does the Alpine bank contribute to reducing the ecological footprint of this activity?

At Escofet we had a moral duty to study the possibility of incorporating a formulation that came from recycled aggregates. We did the research and finally came to a product like this. We have incorporated ecodesign in its supports. It had to be a product as sustainable as possible, and this connected a series of stories, such as sending it disassembled. Normally banks that are installed in public spaces are shipped assembled for logistical reasons. We have developed a very easy system, which does not require too many instructions for assembly.

Infinit Denim Back to Eco, Núria Nubiola (By My Eco Association)

Your project was recognized with the Prize for the Product in development for offering “a local solution to a post-consumer waste” of great volume. How do you take advantage of it?

Until now, our entire universe was about collecting post-consumer denim, which comes from donated clothing charities. We already processed some of this material when it came to us as small pieces of denim to make products such as bags. Now we have access to the thread itself and this has allowed us to expand our horizons. We can now make clothes that offer homogeneity, because with the denim we couldn’t make two identical pieces. Now, with the thread we can make 300 identical pieces.

Noem Carl, Alex Jiménez (Nutcreatives)

The jury recognized the Noem Carl chair for being designed under “circular economy criteria”. How have you extended its life?

Favoring its repair. All parts are attached with screws, so assembling it is simple. In addition, we offer parts, so if a leg breaks, you can buy a new one; or if one day you need to change the decoration, you will not need to throw the armchair, but you can buy a new upholstery and the armchair will still be perfectly useful. As it is our own project, we have tried not to limit ourselves to the market and respond to several eco-design strategies: we have lightened the structure, the materials can be separated easily, it can be removed and washed ...

Intercalator for frozen, Laura Nieto and Josep Buisan (Magrana Barcelona Product Lab)

Unlike other award-winning projects, from Magrana you have proposed an industrial view of eco-design. What improvements does this application bring?

We had a specific product (transportation pallets) and we needed to produce these at the lowest possible cost during the industrial cycle. We decided to produce a pallet from recycled material instead of wood, fulfilling the same transportation function as well as meeting a sustainability criterion: the aim was to save energy in the processes of freezing and defrosting and eliminate wasted wooden palettes generated during the process. The pallets previously generated a huge excess of waste, and the sector demanded that the market solve this issue with a product that would transform the situation entirely.

Bitsy Bags, Susan Leach (Bitsy Bags)

From next year plastic bags in supermarkets will be prohibited and only compostable ones can be distributed. What alternative do you propose?

We wanted to design something modern and useful at the same time, so that those who have never been interested in sustainability and reducing plastic may want to buy it as well. The goal is simple: eliminate plastic bags when we buy fruit and vegetables. We designed a bag that had the longest possible shelf life. I believe that each bag will replace at least one thousand plastic during its five years of use. In addition, all parts are made of the same material, recycled polyester, which facilitates recycling.

HBEE, Cristina Bonamusa (EINA)

75% of the millions of bees that inhabit the planet are lonely. How does the HBEE hotel improve their quality of life and what do they contribute to the urban environment?

The bees do not live in the hotel, but nest: they enter with their young, feed them with nectar and pollen and once they grow up, they abandon it. They usually do it in the natural environment, and in the city, formed mainly by concrete and asphalt, they don't find places where doing so at least has more difficulty. The hotel is designed to be installed in urban gardens and parks, so that it can enrich biodiversity and favor the pollination of plant and floral species of green Barcelona. This project does not involve moving bees to the city, because urban bees already exist, but rather makes them visible.

The garden of the refuge, Júlia Ciurana (ELISAVA)

The cultivation table you have designed uses horticulture as a therapy for vulnerable groups. What does this process consist of?

Through the process of plant cultivation, you can see how your work ends up generating a fruit, and this ends up bringing you both psychological and emotional benefits. The interaction with the plant is intimate. The idea is to create your own space during the early stages of depression or other mental illnesses, and once you feel more lively you can join a collective and create a community where gardens are shared and tools and seeds are exchanged ... It is a handmade style.

Frutag, Yoel Cruz (ESDAP Campus Llotja)

What is the starting point of the Frutag fruit marker and what alternative does it offer?

We are obsessed with labels, we even have one, the DNI. I thought: "Why food should have one?" Then we consider adapting and making at least the label be integrated from the marking with edible ink. Hence the name: the ‘tag’ of the graffiti artists who label all possible places to leave their mark. The impact of removing the labels would not be so much for the reduction of plastic, but for the possibility of generating compost or any quality material from organic matter.

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