Today, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk announced the winners of the inaugural Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge, which asked participants to design products made with materials that can return safely to industry or nature at the end of use, fulfilling a core criterion of “remaking the way we make things.”
The design challenge celebrates the circular economy and a world filled with Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products that feature innovative material selection and design. Instead of making things to throw away, these designers are working in an economy where valuable resources are perpetually recycled. A US$2,000 cash prize has been awarded to winners in three categories: Best Student Project, Best Professional Project, and Best Use of the Autodesk Fusion 360 Tool.
“The design revolution starts with the designers. We congratulate our winners as next-generation product designers who embrace systems thinking to solve human and environmental challenges,” said Bridgett Luther, president of the Institute. “We plan to further develop the program and foster a community of practice who share best practices for making products that earn the Cradle to Cradle Certified mark for excellence in quality, beauty and sustainability. We appreciate the support from the Alcoa Foundation and our partnership with Autodesk in helping us bring this program to the world.”
“With 10 billion people soon to be living on the planet with finite amount of resources, designing for a circular economy is the only way forward. Solving today’s epic challenges requires bold new approaches to how we design and make things. Creative young talent in many cases is leading the charge, leaving the linear economy in the dust,” said Lynelle Cameron, senior director of Sustainability and Philanthropy at Autodesk.
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Winner of the Best Student Project category, Tjitte de Wolff of the University of Twente in the Netherlands, created the Venlo Bag, a 100 percent biodegradable bag made from 99 percent recycled materials meant to combat pollution caused by plastic shopping bags.
“The demand for cheap, single-use shopping bags will still exist,” de Wolff said. “Therefore a Cradle to Cradle solution for plastic bags not only eliminates pollution, but also contributes to a healthy ecosystem following the credo: do more good, rather than less bad.”
Jerri Hobdy, an emerging furniture designer and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) graduate, took home the award for Best Professional Design with PURE|IF|HIDE, a chair and stool collection designed to fill a market need for refined, residential furniture. Hobdy’s ample use of recyclable materials — such as solvent-free, vegetable-tanned leather and steel, combined with thoughtful design — creates a product that can be separated into reclaimable biological and technical nutrients at the end of its use. The design accommodates easy recyclability, repair and refurbishment with new leather and colors.
Cole Smith, a student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute’s School of Industrial Design, was awarded the Best Use of the Autodesk Fusion 360 Tool for his design of the Finite Faucet, which is geared to help public restroom faucet users learn how to wash their hands correctly while reminding users of their impact on the environment.
“Without the Autodesk Fusion 360 modeling tools, I would only have sketches and a vague idea of how my product could actually function,” said Smith. “It’s one thing to sketch out an idea on paper, but quite another to figure out if the valves and switches will physically work. Fusion 360 made it much easier to measure and tweak the volumes and relative sizes of my parts to promote the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for hand washing.”
The Finite Faucet is designed with a clear upper cylinder that acts as a visual monitor of water usage and drains until it is empty, at which point it must be turned off to refill and, upon doing so, acts as a timer for scrubbing hands. The design also addresses sanitation concerns and water conservation by moving the stainless steel handle into the sink rather than out of reach of the stream.