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Design Concepts: Another Green World

The Web is teeming with the unrealized ideas of both students and established designers who set out to produce astonishing renderings and prototypes for unusual products. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, money or technology, many of those products never progress from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over them, nevertheless.

It almost feels redundant to showcase green design concepts this week, when so many of the concepts that we normally feature include eco-friendly elements. After all, it's no longer in vogue to exploit natural resources or employ unsustainable materials. At the very least, we have a legion of design students who are coming into their own at an era when environmental consideration is at an all-time high. We expect that all of their future endeavors will include this consideration, and, as a consequence, we hope to have a market full of sustainable products.

Eco Coke by Andrew Seunghyun Kim

This concept has been all over the Net lately, and for good reason. Why the hell haven't soda companies switched to square bottles? With straight sides, they'd certainly pack more efficiently. This particular concept is made from 100-percent sugar cane byproducts, which are also 100-percent recyclable. They squish down vertically, creating a smaller footprint when recycled, all while encouraging the user to think green. And it's not so crazy to think square; Fiji Water's been doing it forever. Coca-Cola: make the switch, and set the trend.

Revolutionair by Philippe Starck

Philippe Starck's Revolutionair wind turbines have been in the works for a while, but he floored the design world when he unveiled these prototypes back in January. Pegged as the first turbine designed for home use, the Revolutionair comes in a square model and a helical one, producing 400 watts and one kilowatt of energy, respectively. Even though they have not yet hit the market, they will be manufactured by Italian company Pramac, and sell for somewhere between $3,300 and $4,700 (or, €2,500 and €3,500).

Cube Magic by Zheng Weixi

As we remarked earlier, we think it's incredibly important that designers integrate eco-conscious ideas into their concepts. With the Cube Magic battery charger by Zheng Weixi, we see our hopes fulfilled. By playing with the cube, which is composed of electromagnets, the user creates inductive energy that can be used to power small gadgets. We're not saying that Cube Magic is the solution to our energy problems, but we think it's a perfect example of a designer incorporating green technology into something as completely innocuous as a Rubik's cube. Just imagine: objects from jump ropes to computer mice could be modified to include elements that generate power simply through normal use. Oh wait, they already have been.

Sunbox Solar Charger by Jinsic Kim

Well, we couldn't really do a roundup of ecologically conscious concepts without hitting some solar panels, now could we? It seems like every concept includes solar this or solar that these days, and choosing among them is not easy. But Jinsic Kim's Sunbox has a lot of the elements that, to us, comprise good design. Each small, portable box contains photovoltaic cells to eat up the sun's rays, and has a hook on one corner so that you can attach it -- in any direction -- to almost anything. When they're full of juice, plug in your iPod or PSP for guilt-free power. Portable, adaptable, hand-held and useful, how could you improve upon this?

Agricultural Urbanism by Greg Chun Whan Park

We realize that we've dedicated a good portion of this week's column to issues of power consumption and production. And while that is one of the overarching concerns of the green movement, we also need to take a look at agriculture. Non-local produce creates a massive carbon footprint that could be avoided by growing close to home. The problem: you live in a large city with limited gardening space. The solution: Agricultural Urbanism by Greg Chung Whan Park. Park's vision for the future of urban architecture includes fully incorporated farm space in the form of graduated tiers. Residents of these buildings would work on the farm as a sort of co-op, and would share in the harvest or profits from its sale. The vertical design helps to repel pests, while the semi-circular area takes full advantage of the sun's movement across the sky throughout the day. Go locovores!

Tags: AgriculturalUrbanism, agriculture, AndrewSeunghyunKim, CubeMahic, design, DesignConcepts, eco coke, eco-friendly, EcoCoke, environment, features, green, GregChunWhanPark, JinsicKim, PhilippeStarck, revolutionair, solar, sunbox, top, WindTurbine, ZhengWeixi