GREEN DESIGN: DESIGNING SUSTAINABILITY FOR PRODUCTS & SPACES

The theme of sustainable development is increasingly tied to the world of design. And to FIMA projects. We asked what Davide Vercelli has to say on the topic.

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Durability and resources have always been keywords when thinking about the development of eco-sustainable products. But, on their own, they are not enough to describe a way of designing that is ever more a necessity that demands a high degree of awareness from the design world.

On the one hand, design extends to the entire life cycle of the product, and concerns, for example, the choice of raw materials, production processes, the consumption of resources and the possibility for reuse and recycling. On the other hand, the design of whole spaces amplifies the scale of design principles. And involves relations, flows and services.

Essentially, there needs to be an awareness that green design is a fundamental tool for contributing to sustainable development, and integrating the environmental sphere with economic and social aspects, creating new lifestyles and virtuous examples to strive for.

We talked extensively about this with Davide Vercelli, who has been the Art Director at FIMA for 5 years. And we started with a particularly difficult question, since we know him quite well.

INTERVIEW WITH DAVIDE VERCELLI: DESIGN & ECO-SUSTAINABILITY

Would you call yourself a green designer?, we ask Davide Vercelli, engineer by training and an innately talented designer.

He immediately replies with a big smile:

I have always had some difficulty with these kinds of definitions, as the very idea of pigeonholing makes me rather uneasy. But, here, I can answer ‘Yes, I am a designer’, in the etymological sense of the Italian term ‘progettare’, that is, projecting forward.

We project our thoughts and our beliefs, trying to deconstruct them every time, with the blind ambition of thinking that the objects and services we can offer are perfectible. In this perspective, ‘green‘ loses its meaning somewhat. In the sense that you really cannot improve unless you are imagining a world in which things last, are circular in nature, or do not wear out. Nowadays, this is the only real projection that a designer should be doing.”

And, just like that, we have already arrived at the crux of the topic. It’s not just ‘green design’ that is important, but a broader prospective of a sustainable future. So let’s talk about sustainability.

“Do you know where the word sustainability comes from?”, urges Davide.

The word sustainability has an interesting musical parallel. Whoever plays the piano learns to sustain a note, to prolong it over time, and to prevent it from fading out. And so sustainability is a strategy for maintaining products over time and making them last.

The impulse of consumerism and aggressive commercial strategies have, in recent decades, led to the development of cheaper products at the expense of both reliability and durability.

In developing a green project, the first variable to reign in is the management and use of resources. The less is used to build it and to dispose of it, the less it consumes in its life cycle and the better it is. But that’s not all, of course. Let’s talk about longevity. If, absurdly speaking, a car lasted forever, we wouldn’t have filled the world with scrap.

A product doesn’t last forever, but companies could, in any case, think of them being repairable instead of simply disposable.

Think of a washing machine whose shell could be replaced with more up-to-date styling, and whose motor, heater and electronics could be eventually replaced with more powerful components:

– The washing machine remains the same, but can be updated and improved over time.

– The customer does not own the product but rather rents it from the company, which takes care of its technological and aesthetic upgrading.

We have to rethink our business models, and perhaps those of our lives too.”

Re-imagining companies no longer as mere manufacturers but as service providers is an impetus towards a future that opens up an infinity of possibilities for the world of design.

DAVIDE VERCELLI’S PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF FIMA’S GREEN PROCESSES & STRATEGIES

When we ask him if companies are ready to take on larger scale green projects, Davide Vercelli decides to tell us about his personal experience in FIMA over the last five years.

FIMA has prepared and structured itself so that its impact on ecosystems is as low as possible. Here, strategies are designed and tackled that can last for decades. Designing a more environmentally friendly product is just the icing on the cake.

It is, in fact, the very structure of the company that must be addressed in order to minimize the use of resources, to implement circular processes, and to use materials that come from recycling and are themselves recyclable.

The use of brass for taps, for example, facilitates these principles. But, we’ve worked a lot on various criticalities, for example, by replacing traditional products in galvanic baths with a new closed cycle, which uses different technologies and anticipates legislative trends by a number of years”. Here, he is referring to Fima Tech Chromium, which we have already spoken about in detail in an article in FIMA | diary.

“The company has also promoted new finishes at a marketing level that exclude the use of chrome and nickel”, continues Davide, “and we have worked to achieve energy autonomy with an important photovoltaic system. Then, we are eliminating plastics and inks in packaging and product protection processes, while reducing the quantities of cardboard we use.

The idea is that of a linear and continuous process that passes through analyses of every aspect of corporate life. It’s continuous because what we have improved today will be further improved on in a few years’ time”.

The conclusion is clear: green design can only properly exist in a business context that is perfectly consistent with the philosophy. And FIMA grows every day in this very direction.

GREEN SPACES, PRODUCTS & DREAMS

It is also difficult for Davide Vercelli to choose just one of his projects that, more than others, embodies the principles of eco-sustainability that he has been talking to us about. Because, in conceptual terms, he sees no difference between spaces, or environments, and products. “The scale changes, materials change, but the criteria remain the same”, he explains.

We, then, suggest a couple of examples, with which he immediately agrees.

Among the products we suggest is SWITCH, the innovative shower system introduced by FIMA last year.

It’s a design that deconstructs the elements of water distribution and control. And it uses the most advanced technologies in order to offer the best shower sensation with the minimum consumption. Just as Davide himself said in his presentation of the collection, which you can see here.

Among the spaces we suggest is VERDEBAGNO, a project developed in collaboration with the magazine IL BAGNO OGGI E DOMANI (“The Bathroom of Today and Tomorrow”), involving various companies in proposing a bathroom space entirely populated by green products. All of which is very promising for the future.

And speaking of the future, we ask Davide, “What is a green project you dream of?”

A very ambitious project, which fits the definition of a dream perfectly, is the possibility of cultivating dye plants. For example, dyer’s woad, Isatis tinctoria, which was the “blue gold” of Renaissance velvets and ancient tapestries, or dyer’s chamomile, Anthemis tinctoria, whose flowers are like yellow daisies, are extremely rich in pigment. The chemical industry, since the beginning of the last century, has replaced all of these crops, but the idea of more natural, gentle products, that, though less high-performance, are more delicate, is making its way back to fabric manufacturers. There’s land available for it in Italy’s Le Marche Region, and there’s desire to do it too, in addition to a few other projects .... Let’s hope the dream can become an achievable goal!

Indeed, it seems like a perfect dream for green design and sustainable development.

 

>>WATCH THE PRESENTATION OF SWITCH which talks about green design

>> READ THE ARTICLE ABOUT VERDEBAGNO in the Bagno Architettura (“Bath Architecture”) issue of the Il Bagno magazine

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