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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Green and Socially Responsible Design

It is a Brilliant Earth
I first heard about Brilliant Earth from a friend who went to business school with the founder. The company, located in San Francisco, exclusively sells Canadian Diamonds which are carefully tracked. Many diamond merchants, although they claim that their diamonds are conflict free, cannot actually be sure.

Conflict Diamonds, also known as Blood Diamonds are responsible for funding civil wars in Africa and for egregious human rights abuses that include inhumane working conditions, low pay, torture and even death. Brilliant Earth is a co-founder for the Diamonds for Africa Fund which was created to give back to communities harmed by the diamond industry. Brilliant Earth donates a portion of its proceeds directly to communities in Africa.

Brilliant Earth is also committed to sustainability practices by using only environmentally responsible gold and platinum. See Brilliant Earth website for more information.

Another option for conflict free and ecologically responsible diamonds is GreenKarat which sells recycled gold and synthetic diamonds. The synthetic diamonds not only look like mined diamonds but they are chemically the same as diamonds by nature.

Nau-- Socially and environmentally responsible outer wear
A percentage of every sale goes to support environmental or humanitarian efforts at home and
abroad. Nau strives to marry good, clean design with sustainability in every aspect of their business.

Tesla EV Roadster
Tesla Roadster is the first green car that is actually beautiful. The car runs on a 900lb lithium ion batter and gets about 200 miles per charge. The cost of the Tesla roadster is still prohibitive (around $100,000) but it gives us hope for the future. Perhaps we can finally see the day when evs are here to stay!

Organic invites
demonstrates that recycled, eco-friendly products can also be beautiful. All of Organic invites products are printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with 100% toxin-free soy and vegetable-based inks. Contact for samples

Fronch Fries, Fronch Dressing
French Rabbit Wines not only are they beautifully packaged, but they are also environmentally friendly. French rabbit wines are packaged in Tetra-Prisma containers. 100% recyclable, Tetra-Prismas reduce packaging by 90%.The French rabbit Tetra Pak container takes less energy to produce, transport and recycle. It takes 25 trucks to transport ordinary wine packaging, compared to just 1 truck for the same amount of tetra paks.

Organic Vodka?
Well, maybe Square One Vodka won't reduce a hang over, but it sure is pretty to look at. The label is printed on sustainably grown and renewable fiber sources and the bottle is produced in such a way to minimize the amount of chemicals required to produce traditional vodka packaging.The contents of the bottle are made from spring water and 100% certified organic rye.

Design Like You Give Damn!

I have been following the work of Cameron Sinclair since I worked as an organizer for the Art Center Design Conference when I was in grad school. Founded by Sinclair in 1999, Architecture for Humanity is a grassroots organization that seeks to use the power of design to improve lives. Sinclair and co-founder Kate Stohr chronicle their passion for benefiting humanity in the recent book "Design like you give a Damn".

Chez What?
A restaurant is probably not something you expect to see listed in a design blog, but Alice Waters' restaurant Chez Panisse deserves a mention. I ate there for the first time last Thursday (the restaurant is wildly popular -- it took us two months to get a 9 pm Thursday evening reservation) and it was truly an experience.

Waters, known for her activism for sustainable agriculture and support of locally-grown fresh ingredients has been credited with creating the genre of food known as California Cuisine. The restaurant serves a prix fixe menu that changes daily and each plate is a work of art beyond compare. The restaurant is pricey, but not pretentious in the least. The Art Nouveau-style decor makes it a beautiful and romantic spot for a special occasion.

Angela Adams Sustainable
I have always coveted Angela Adam's rugs -- their beautiful, yet simplistic forms serve to brighten any room. Angela recently added a new line to her collection aptly called "Sustainable" which features fabrics made of 100% post-industrial recycled polyester. The Sustainable collection features 11 different patterns.