In assembling the stories in this issue about circular design, one word kept coming up: value. It surfaced early on in my conversation with Zita Cobb, the Shorefast founder and visionary behind Fogo Island’s resurgence. Describing the difference between something that has inherent value versus a status symbol, she recalled a friend of hers, Amos the fisher, who was confused about how a Louis Vuitton purse could sell for thousands of dollars while he couldn’t earn a meagre income hawking his fish. “The economy will start to work,” she told me, “when we practice true cost pricing.”
“The economy” is a phrase, Cobb likes to say, that is quick to clear a room. And it’s certainly not the usual scope of this magazine. But if we’re talking about how we can completely rethink how we do things, we inevitably come around to the question of value — which for too long has been dictated by market factors. If we re-centred our perception of value around circularity — how we can benefit the health of the planet and every living thing that thrives on it by considering the full life cycle of a product or project — we would develop a new mindset for designing, making, consuming and living in more equitable relationships with each other and our surroundings.
Using design thinking to bolster an entire place or community is a massive endeavour. But even in the design of a building or a furniture collection is an opportunity to re-set the program for circularity. The London design firm Pearson Lloyd is deeply engaged in this line of inquiry. Tom Lloyd would even go so far as to question why we should always buy new design — a perennial quandary of many a furniture fair is, ‘do we really need another chair?’ — when we can turn to subscription models. “The design opportunity,” Lloyd explains, “is to figure out how to make that happen: You have to modify where the value chain and wealth creation is in order to fulfill these opportunities. If you step back and say a chair has five lives, and each time you bought it back and released it — the wealth creation could be strong but it’s a different value stream model.”
By rethinking “value,” we’re also reclaiming our own values. If we want to strive for a healthier planet, one that is more ethical and sustainable, we have several examples to follow — and this issue is brimming with them. Among the most stunning examples are a series of case studies of architecture projects – from Studio Weave’s London library made with felled city trees to 3XN/GXN’s Sydney skyscraper that upcycles an existing tower – that reimagine green construction.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
An agritourism retreat, a water-inspired espresso bar, a vision for the future of leisure travel – and other destinations, real and imagined, for rest and relaxation. Plus, new furniture for the hospitality sector.
A Way Forward
In Borno, Nigeria, the local government has teamed up with the UNDP and architect Tosin Oshinowo to create a new settlement for internally displaced persons.
Toronto Design Stars
Standouts, including Coolican & Co’s elegant lounge collection, from the Interior Design Show and DesignTO Festival.
The Great Outdoors
Lighting, furniture and accessories for achieving the most idyllic al fresco environment.
If we want to strive for a healthier planet, one that is more ethical and sustainable, we have several examples to follow — and this issue is brimming with them.