Hundertwasser’s Public Toilet

New Zealand, land of astonishing natural beauty, landscapes that almost seem false as they are so incredible and unusual. Land of sensitive and unique flora and fauna, tatoos, the haka, sheep and cattle…and err interesting public toilets. You may think it strange that such a facility is to be featured on this blog for it’s design aesthetic, but it is a pretty strange sight.


Travelling up to the northern tip of the country to a small town called Paihia, I noticed the small vibrant structure immediately. At first it looks more like a small brick a brack shop or a tourist vendor. However as you come closer you will notice the sign written in multicoloured and individually styled letters reading the words “Paihia’s Wee Toilet”.


The small box like building is decorated with metal toilets that have been converted into plant pots. Long wild grass potrudes from the disused boat that sits on the roof. Wooden benches line the small coves, proving practical for waiting children. The sloping walls at the entrance allow for a degree of privacy while washing your hands while also welcoming in sunlight. At night the public toilets light up in neon pink and green making it look even more inviting but also fooling some tourists into believing it is a silent dance venue.


And who may be responsible for such an eccentric piece of architecture in the middle of a tiny remote town on the other side of the world – Hundertwasser of course. The eccentric artist and architect spent a considerable amount of time in New Zealand and although his contribution to Paihia’s architectural landscape was small, it is certainly significant. He would have no doubt also been pleased to know that it was certainly the cleanest public toilet I have ever visited.


A Microcosm for Architecture: From Factory to Home

This is an incredible story of a magnificent home that lies north west of Barcelona, Spain’s cultural and artistic capital.

Ricardo Bofill cement factory courtesy of Ricardo Bofill and first seen on yatzer

Ricardo Bofill cement factory courtesy of Ricardo Bofill and first seen on yatzer

Draped in lush vegetation and offering an abundance of open spaces, this building is impressive not only in size but also in style. It’s features are so unusual for a family home and it is almost unthinkable how such a grand project came about.

Ricardo Bofill cement factory courtesy of Ricardo Bofill and first seen on yatzer

Ricardo Bofill cement factory courtesy of Ricardo Bofill and first seen on yatzer

However this was not always a scene of domestic bliss and creative outlet. This towering building once housed the industry that produces the material we use to create most modern structures – cement.

Ricardo Bofill cement factory courtesy of Ricardo Bofill and first seen on yatzer

Ricardo Bofill cement factory courtesy of Ricardo Bofill and first seen on yatzer

This is a story of a visionary architect, Ricardo Bofill, who saw the potential for something beautiful to be created from an old dilapidated factory. The result shows the success of his hard work and the realisation of his dream, to create his dream home from an edifice long forgotten and diregarded.

Ricardo Bofill cement factory courtesy of Ricardo Bofill and first seen on yatzer

Ricardo Bofill cement factory courtesy of Ricardo Bofill and first seen on yatzer

Here is a video about the former cement factory that has become an incredible living space. Expansive ceilings and crawling green plants, make this restored factory building an architectural masterpiece with a great deal of charm.

More information and photos found here on

The DO School Sustainable Cup Challenge

Disposable cups make a huge contribution to the amount of waste we produce, it is probably not something many of us think about when we’re finishing our morning coffee. However, how could we create a product that will be both recycled and easily recyclable?


Are you a budding designer? In our previous post we talked about the DO Fellowship opportunity.

The DO Sustainable Cup Challenge  aims to help the selected Fellows to create an innovative and sustainable to-go cup.  They will also be expected to develop the related infrastructure and create a campaign for New York City. The Fellows will have the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics from leading experts,  including the environmental impact of packaging and materials as well as about recycling systems.


By tackling the Challenge, Fellows will have to learn how to turn an idea into action by using a hands-on approach. Fellows will also work on developing their own venture idea into a viable plan, that is ready for implementation during the following ten months in their home countries.

Calling all young entrepreneurs!


The DO School is offering a unique one-year program for emerging social entrepreneurs that will provide training, mentoring and empowerment to young entrepreneurs to help them start their own ventures. Selected Fellows will receive a full scholarship covering the tuition fee for the year.

The DO School invites applications from motivated individuals from around the world to participate in the DO School Sustainable Cup Challenge. Applications are now open to young people aged between 21 and 28 and will close on September 15th 2013. Successful applicants will show exceptional motivation to contribute to solving the Challenge and will be encouraged and supported to develop their own social venture and in the areas of eg. sustainable product design, campaigning and branding, environmental activism, recycling and waste management.

The DO School Fellow Group

The DO School Fellow Group

The programme will run from February to May 2013 and the selected Fellows will spend the first 10 weeks of this one-year program on the DO School pop-up campus in New York City! The following 10 months will be spent in their home countries implementing their own ventures.

3D Printing – Reimagining Creativity

3D Printing By Waag Society

3D Printing By Waag Society

Lately there have been countless articles and references to 3D printing, 3D printed shoes, guns, art, bicycles and casts for broken arms… While making 3D weapons understandably sparked a great deal of controversy and even panic in the press, other products especially in fashion and design have been met with a huge degree of interest by the public. But what is 3D printing and how advanced is this practice in reality?

3D-printing innovations at the Inside 3D Printing Expo at the Javits Center by Inhabitat

3D-printed shoes at the Inside 3D Printing Expo at the Javits Center by Inhabitat

Unlike conventional printers, 3D printing allows you to create a physical object from a digital model designed on the computer. (I had an image of a pair of shoes emerging from our office printer when I was reading about this, so don’t worry if you’re finding it hard to imagine.) The process is also known as ‘additive manufacturing’ which works by adding layers of new material in certain shapes to create the final product (see video below). This meticulous method of manufacturing is quite different to the usual process of either reshaping or carving out an object from the raw material – such as stone or metals.

3D Printed Cells Bowl - Math Art by Dizingo

3D Printed Cells Bowl – Math Art by Dizingo

The main thing about 3D printing is that it allows you to create endless identical versions of a product using the same digital prototype. In terms of mass marketing and accuracy this is quite a revolutionary tool. But have we reached the stage where we can really say this process is world changing? I did some research to find out how costly and how easy it would be to create my very own 3D product, envisaging a small piece of jewellery just as a tester. Maybe a pair of R-Inc knuckle dusters?

3D Printed klein bottle Pendant - Math Art By Dizingof

3D Printed klein bottle Pendant – Math Art By Dizingof

Searching for a willing print shop couldn’t be so hard. However I soon realised that my new mission was about to land me well outside of my sustainable ideals, as 3D printing mostly uses plastics… nevertheless it was a design process that simply fascinated me. Eventually I decided against the knuckle dusters, but continued to look into the process itself.

Quadrifolium 3D Print By fdecomite

Quadrifolium 3D Print By fdecomite

What I found was inspiring, however it was more of an interesting idea than a flawless method. Many 3D products, besides being quite environmentally unfriendly, are not of the highest quality. While it could hugely simplify the design process, currently the cost still seems to be too high to be worth it. There is no doubt that in the next few years this will change, however at this stage it doesn’t seem worth it unless your products are small white plastic and you have a lack of physical labour.

This 3D object is adatpted and optimized for 3D printing with netfabb.

This 3D object is adatpted and optimized for 3D printing with netfabb.

In terms of more complex structures that need to be assembled from multiple small identical pieces 3D printing could provide a welcome alternative to current manufacturing techniques. And there are already a number of inventions such as the Filabot seeking to use recycled materials as “3D ink”.

3D printing By marymactavish

3D printing By marymactavish

It seems that while machines can assist in manufacturing to some degree, there is nothing more valuable or beautiful than skilled craftsmanship. Machines may provide a cost effective way of mass producing simple goods, but in terms of creative projects and unique high quality objects the input and skills of a human are essential. Having said that, 3D printing still fascinates me and I am interested to see how artists and designers will incorporate this process into their own work. Doubtless to say this is only the beginning…

Video by Create it REAL

The Living Furniture Project – The Social Impact of Design

The Living Furniture Project is a design studio and workshop with a social purpose – creating jobs for the homeless. Located in East London, an area with a visible housing problem, the project aims to encourage training and creativity to address this growing problem. It not only highlights the issue of homelessness but also takes a positive and practical approach in attempting to solve it.

LFP's workshop and showroom in Clerkenwell

LFP’s workshop and showroom in Clerkenwell

The People Behind the Project
The Living Furniture Project involves a number of design creatives and experts in reclaimed materials, these include:

- contemporary upcycling luminaries Donna Walker and Nic Parnell,
– Geoff Walker who has twenty six years experience in bespoke carpentry and has designed the stylish interiors of bars like Barrio East and Dalston Superstore,
– Sarah Baulch, who has been regularly featured in Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and on TV for her upcycled fabric designs,
– Yinka Ilori, a prodigy designer regularly asked to exhibit his furniture in Berlin, Milan and London,
– Kat Wight, an acclaimed pattern designer who previously worked for Laura Ashley,
– Kat Hamer who is an Australian eco-fashion designer and social entrepreneur, and
– James McBennett, founder of innovative furniture start-up

Emerald Chair Collection

Emerald Chair Collection

Tackling Homelessness
The company works in partnership with two homelessness charities – Crisis and Providence Row, who refer their clients to the workshop for a range of paid and unpaid training and work programmes. Each Apprentice is given technical training, structured mentoring and pastoral support – a personal development programme which has been designed in conjunction with the partner charities.

The project has taken on two homeless Apprentices since launching in January 2013, and is taking on two more in May. The aim is to employ ten Apprentices by the end of the year. Apprentices will stay with the company for up to six months and are then helped with finding a job elsewhere in the furniture industry.

“The first time an Apprentice finishes a piece can get quite emotional – holding something unique in their hands and thinking – I did that.”

Donna Walker, designer on the project, explains her motivation for joining “I like the idea of skill-sharing, I use it a lot in my own work – I learn making skills from my colleagues and I teach them mine in return. So skill-sharing with the homeless is my way of giving back to the local community.”

Designer Nic Parnell adds “I like the idea that a high level piece of furniture can be made by anyone, of any skill level, if they’re given the proper tuition. I’m very excited to be part of the project.”

Emerald side cabinet by Nic Parnell

Emerald side cabinet by Nic Parnell

The Living Furniture Project source all their materials sustainably – using reclaimed plywood or shipping pallets, or restoring old pieces they find in salvage yards, skips or on the street. The company already has a network of spotters and collectors who identify opportunities to reclaim waste in the construction, textile and manufacturing industries. Below is a short video explaining how the Living Furniture project works and how you can buy bespoke made furniture from them.

The Living Furniture Project – How to buy furniture from us from Alastair Sloan on Vimeo.