Letter from the Editor
In 2005, British athlete Ellen Macarthur broke the speed record for sailing around the world solo.
She retired in 2010, at age 34, and moved on to her next passion: establishing a foundation for promoting circular economies. Circular economy is not a term Macarthur coined. Its origin isn’t known, but the expression has become a catch-all for the many ways sustainability has been described and understood over the years. It embraces everything from cradle to cradle and biomimicry to the blue economy and degenerative design – essentially, all the terminology that says we should be doing things differently than what we are doing now. Rather than make stuff and throw it all back into our already-polluted oceans and burning landfills, we should be building businesses that reduce and recycle. The point of Macarthur’s foundation is to expedite that thinking to the corporate reality and her partners include such mega-giants as Google, H&M, Philips and Unilever.
Of course, designers have valued sustainability for decades. What Azure’s editors and contributors have noticed recently – while visiting furniture fairs around the globe, talking to practitioners, and handing out AZ Awards that celebrate social good and environmental stewardship – is the momentum. Going green is now the norm, and the domain of some of the most influential leaders in the world, including Elon Musk, Stella Mccartney, and Ikea. It is also appearing with the rise of interest in such environmentally savvy architects as Ecologicstudio in London, designers of algae-based energy systems; Kengo Kuma in Tokyo, whose preferred material is wood; and Studio Swine of London, which bases its practice on finding ecological material alternatives, such as turning human hair into a finish that emulates tortoise shell, or a chair made from Ebonite, a sustainable rubber from the Amazon.
It has been a longstanding tradition for our October issue to point to the products, materials, ideas and projects that are poised to define the year ahead. This year, our forecast encompasses one idea that permeates all design channels: the move towards maximizing to minimize.
Viride, by Barcelona's Goula/figuera, is a prototype that brings together in one object grow lights, interior lighting, water hydration and vegetation.