Chair, 'Lapel', plastic, designed and made by Stuart McFarlane, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2009
This chair is significant as a design object, and also as an example of an Australian made product that has been designed and manufactured to minimise its negative impact on the environment.
The 'Lapel' chair is produced by folding 100% recycled plastic, therefore using no glues or screws in its production. The chair can be dismantled easily for recycling at the end of its useful life. It has also been produced so that it can be shipped 'flat-packed', thus reducing its environmental impact when being transported.
Adoption of sustainable design is not a passing trend. It is fast becoming a mainstream way of thinking as we face more and more challenges in sustaining our food supply, water, and our environment. The throwaway mentality of modern day culture combined with the current environmental crisis puts a spotlight on sustainable design. It plays an important role in delivering products that have a greater lifespan, and a better efficiency in their use of materials and energy. Sustainable design is vitally important to help eliminate the negative environmental impacts of industrial production.
McLennan, J. F. (2004), The Philosophy of Sustainable Design
Fan Shu-Yang, Bill Freedman, and Raymond Cote (2004). "Principles and practice of ecological design". Environmental Reviews. 12: 97-112
Assistant Curator, July 2009
This chair was made in Melbourne by Stuart McFarlane. Since Graduating in Industrial Design at RMIT in 2003, Stuart McFarlane has moved consistently within and around the international design community developing his unique design perspective. McFarlane's "conscientious design" approach has gathered international support through key publications, exhibitions and appointments.
Nominated as the No. 1 Australian Design Graduate of 2004 by Monument Architectural journal, McFarlane soon gathered further recognition through consistent finalist placings in the Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Awards and, more recently, the Rigg Contemporary Design Award. McFarlane's exhibitions in Australia and abroad include a 2007 appointment by the City of Melbourne as Ambassador for Melbourne Design in Milan.
His lecturing appointments at RMIT and the Melbourne Museum, have given him the opportunity to promote an holistic design method that incorporates social, economic and environmental determinants. Of particular note to the design community, McFarlane's recent investigations into folding recycled plastic are a singular example of treating ecological concerns as axiomatic.
In 2008 McFarlane opened his design studio to a wider audience and has since collaborated with clients to develop interiors, product design, and edition furniture and lighting. McFarlane continues to produce self-initiated designs investigating functionality and materiality, while allowing clarity and balance to preside.
This chair was displayed in 2009 at the Powerhouse Museum in the 'Eat Green Design' showcase as part of the Sydney Design 09 festival.
Created by Cilla Maden of Collaborate, Eat Green Design was a temporary exhibition, restaurant and theatrette, hosting diners, guest speakers, and the latest 'green' products. It encouraged participants to stretch the perception of what 'sustainability' means and challenged them to explore the ways in which they could incorporate the principles of ecologically sustainable design into their own lives.
The Eat Green Design installation was designed and purpose-built by award-winning architect Hannah Tribe of Tribe Studio, Surry Hills, and demonstrated best practice principles in sustainable architecture and interior design. It also showcased a selection of innovative, sustainable products from independent designers from around Australia.
The Powerhouse Museum and Eat Green Design, invited designers to submit products to exhibit in a showcase during Sydney Design 09 festival. The display featured some of the best Australian product designs, highlighting the latest in sustainable, green design concepts.
The judging panel called for submission of products, by designers, and chose the most outstanding entries. Criteria included the use of efficient design - designed to minimise resource use (materials, energy, water), Safe design - avoids the use of toxic or hazardous materials, and Cyclic design - can be reused or remanufactured; uses recycled materials; materials can be easily recycled. Products must have assessed energy, water, and material efficiency throughout the design cycle, and be designed to minimise negative environmental impacts.