Sustainability News

Posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 by Allison Byers

Water scarcity in the U.S. west may seem like a problem that affects western residents alone, but where the national food supply is concerned, the consequences of a water crisis spread quickly in all directions. The San Joaquin Valley is the most productive agricultural region in the world, according to a Reuters data report on California agriculture and water supply. The state produces “over half of U.S. fruits, nuts and vegetables and over 90 percent of U.S. almonds, artichokes, avocados, broccoli and processing tomatoes,” and is the nation’s largest dairy supplier.

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Posted on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Furniture faculty member Barbara Holmes spent most of February installing a tour de force exhibition in an impressive new space in one of San Francisco's more down-and-out neighborhoods. Located at 1045 Mission Street between 6th and 7th Streets, it will be on view through Sunday, May 27, 2012. Since it's viewable only through the front windows, visitors are welcome to come take a look 24 hours a day. At night the piece is theatrically lit with interior spotlights.

Read the press release

1045 Mission Street is a 100-foot-long window-front space on the ground floor of SOMA Residencies. In 2011, the owners invited Recology's artist in residence (AIR) program to utilize it for off-site exhibits. Holmes is one of the first artists to install there, and she leaped on the opportunity to conceive her most ambitious piece to date -- one that would specifically take advantage of the entire available space and the nighttime illumination possibilities. The opportunity to create something so abstract, almost alive, on this big of a scale, was deeply interesting.

Also interesting were her interactions with people who live in the neighborhood and passed by while she was installing. The door was closed, but that didn't stop people from tapping on the window pretty much daily, wanting to ask about what she was doing and, occasionally, relate their life story. "It's a pretty tough neighborhood. Sometimes the interactions were funny, sometimes sad. A lot of the people who were passing by, seeing the piece, were not people who would ordinarily go to art galleries, so it was wonderful to reach them with an artwork."

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Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change
Laurence King Publishers, 2012
Paperback, 192 pages, $29.95

Fashion Design faculty Lynda Grose coauthors (together with Kate Fletcher) this book about the potential of sustainability to transform both the fashion system and the innovators who work within it. Sustainability is arguably the defining theme of the 21st century.

The issues in fashion are broad-ranging and include labor abuses, toxic chemicals, and conspicuous consumption, giving rise to an undeniable tension between fashion and sustainability.

The book is organized into three parts. The first is concerned with transforming fashion products across the garment's lifecycle and includes innovation in materials, manufacture, distribution, use and re-use.

The second looks at ideas that are transforming the fashion system at root into something more sustainable, including new business models that reduce material throughput.

The third is concerned with transforming the role of fashion designers and looks to examples where the designer changes from a stylist or creator into a communicator, activist, or facilitator.

As of 2014, the book is available in four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

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Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Mitchell Schwarzer

Mitchell Schwarzer gives his introduction at the CCA faculty retreat

On February 4, 2012, the faculty at California College of the Arts gathered at the college's San Francisco campus for a retreat focused on the state of the arts across our many disciplines. In the morning, 25 short presentations offered insights into challenges and opportunities faced by practitioners and thinkers in recent times. The word aired most frequently was crisis: the crisis of the Great Recession; the crisis of Global Climate Change; the crisis of understanding and working within a discipline in our digital age.

Watch the video of all the presentations (91 minutes), shot and edited by Yoni Klein (Photography 2012)

The economic downturn has produced an economic squeeze within most of our disciplines. Art directors, as Alexis Mahrus remarks, have diminished roles in shaping an illustration. Smaller profit margins reduce the flexibility and time given over to experimentation. Branding and celebrity worship take up a larger slice of the creative pie. Some presenters, like Sue Redding of Industrial Design, see no problem in this conflation of art and business and, furthermore, dispute the notion of a crisis. Yet many presenters feel that the economic crisis is not only real but wielding dangerously asymmetrical impacts. Demand remains strong for high-end craft goods and blue-chip fine art. Some small nonprofits are struggling to survive. To Ignacio Valero of Critical Studies, the priority given over to luxury items can be attributed to the ongoing influence of classical economic policies that privilege individual decision making over collective social and natural needs. Likewise, Sandra Vivanco of Diversity Studies notes that economic inequalities have greatly worsened over the past few years, especially in the developing world. Contemporary society is forging a timeless, spaceless way of conducting business, a race for lucrative and short-term gains that concentrates investment more than ever in the hands of a few.

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Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 by Allison Byers

And now for something completely different: a San Francisco pier that harvests fog and uses its moisture to grow vegetables and raise fish.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 by Allison Byers

Anna Wintour was right: Geeks can be chic. Bone up on the startling facts beneath the fashion industry's glitzy facade with our recommended reading list. From illustrated compendiums of emerging ethical designers to erudite theses on design as a catalyst for change, here are 13 volumes worth hoarding.

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Posted on Thursday, April 5, 2012 by Allison Byers

WHEN you are a practicing alchemist, as Sasha Duerr is, strangers will often ask you to demonstrate your powers by heating up a caldron in the yard. It’s a living, and Ms. Duerr is usually happy to give it a try. On a recent Monday afternoon, she had arranged to spark up three propane camp stoves and scavenge a few things to boil.

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Posted on Monday, April 2, 2012 by Allison Byers

In a new twist on sustainable fashion, designers aren't just embracing new fabrics made from organic cotton, hemp or bamboo, they're pawing through piles of clothing waste, crafting high-fashion, hand-made items from old cashmere sweaters, T- shirts and other castoffs.

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Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2012 by Allison Byers

As we searched for the right image to feature on this month’s cover—something timely, and unusually provocative, smart, and beautiful—we realized that all our descriptors still apply, but that “beauty” has become an elusive ideal. Design’s expressions—product design in this case, but we may as well be talking about design at every scale—have become more complex than the foreground objects we celebrated in the last century.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 by Jim Norrena

2nd Alumination Table, 36" (h) x 23" (w) x 23" (d); cherry, aluminum, glass, 2011 (in the collection of Simon Blatner)View slideshow 

Posted at Core77.com February 14, 2012: "We like San Francisco-based furniture designer Andrew Perkins's take on sustainability: 'Sustainable design is foremost about the quality and emotional longevity of the object,' he writes. '[I know] that if the idea isn't present then the object will not persist.'"

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Who Is Furniture Alumnus Andrew Perkins?

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