KUSKIA BI – THE FIRST BIOPLASTIC CHAIR

Designed by Jean Louis Iratzoki for Alki, the Kuskoa Bi is the first chair on the market to be manufactured in bioplastic.

"We decided that Kuskoa Bi had to be a comfortable, enveloping chair and to achieve this we opted for a semi-concave shell. The material that best enables this shape to be created is plastic. However, the production of plastic not only depletes the world’s diminishing fossil resources, it is also a pollutant that harms the environment and is therefore contrary to our fundamental principles on sustainable development. To find a solution to this dilemma, we carried out in-depth investigative research and found a new material: bioplastic."

Made of polymers similar to plastic, bioplastic is made from 100% plant-based renewable resources (think corn starch, sugarcane, beets, etc.). Fully recyclable, it doesn’t leave a heavy footprint on the earth and is even biodegradable.

From their workshop in the village of Itsasu in France, Alki not only furnish contemporary houses, traditional apartments, the MuCEM restaurant in Marseille, and the offices of Quiksilver, but also the head offices of big-name brands such as Hermès and Levis Strauss. This company is definitely one to keep an eye on.

MODULAR FURNITURE FROM SPANISH TEXTILE BRAND GAN

In a world where customisation is becoming common place, modular furniture provides the flexibility to suit not only your living space but your lifestyle too.

Let us introduce you to textile brand Gan, and these beautiful modular pieces by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola.

Born in Oviedo, Spain, Urquiola has lived and worked in Milan for the last 20 years, designing pieces for many of the big names in the design world. We just adore her 100% wool pieces, which take inspiration from the traditional artform of knitting. With the rug as a starting point, you then build your living space by adding co-ordinating chairs, cushions, poufs and accessories, mixing and matching until your heart is content, and easily rearranging when you feel like a change.

Be sure to check out more from the Mangas Spacerange (pictured here) and also her Rhombus modules.

ARE "FARMSCAPERS" THE FUTURE

Late 2014 we came across the Hive-Inn City Farmdesigns proposed for New York City – now our latest find in self-contained ecosystem solutions is the Shenzhen Asian Cairn Farmscrapers.

Commissioned by the Chinese city of Shenzhen and designed by French firm Vincent Callebaut Architects, the Farmscrapers are an initiative consisting of six mix-use towers structured like a pile of rocks. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the buildings will provide space for residents, offices, shops, recreation — and as the name would imply, its own food.

China is often accused of being environmentally irresponsible, but it's a claim that may not stand the test of time. With an eye firmly planted on the future, the city of Shenzehn is actively responding to the demands of its rising population, unchecked urban sprawl, and rising CO2 emissions.

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FINISTERRE – THE ONLY COLD WATER SURFING COMPANY IN THE WORLD

Based in Cornwall in the UK, Finisterre was founded by Tom Kay in 2002 “to promote cold water surfing, build products for it and lead in both.”

Tom spent most of his childhood in or around the sea and went on to study Marine Biology, so it was therefore a natural progression that he should start an ethically-motivated cold water surf brand that would challenge the big corporate surf companies.

Committed to making environmentally-friendly, innovative, technical clothes from recycled or natural fibres, much of the brand’s clothing is made from Merino wool, and since 2007 Finisterre has been working with Lesley Prior in Devon, the guardian of the last 28 Bowmont sheep on the planet, to develop a legitimate UK fine fibre supply chain.

The rare Bowmont breed was created 25 years ago by researchers in Scotland, who crossed British White Shetland Sheep with New Zealand Merinos to create a breed that produced merino-soft wool but were able to withstand the hardy UK weather.

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HAPPY YEAR OF THE SHEEP

February 19th marks the Chinese New Year and it's the sheep's time to shine!

Those born in the year of the sheep are said to be artisically talented, have a great sense of fashion, and are considerate creatures who think before acting.

We've been keeping an eye out for brands that are embracing their sheepish side, and collecting them on our Pinterest page. Here are some of our favourites:

 

 

  1. Sheep's milk macaroons from Yauatcha
  2. DIY cardboard sheep from Shin Tanaka
  3. Year of the Sheep illustrations from Lemongraphic
  4. Reebok's Chinese New Year Ventilator
  5. Sheep mug and coin bank from Starbucks
  6. Levi's Dress up for Chinese New Year campaign
  7. Year of the Sheep Tech T Lite from Icebreaker
  8. Chinese New Year sheep clutch from Kate Spade
  9. Footwear and purses from Hogan
  10. Papercut greeting card from Porigami
  11. Campaign for Wool's sheep
  12. Google's home page animation (above)

SEE WHAT ALL THE FUSS IS ABOUT

Designed by Karen Mimi, Danish designer and founder of FUSS, these cushion covers are made from Merino wool, and come in beautiful colours, which are soft and subtle. Karen describes her designs as being “characterised by a graphic minimalism and balanced calmness inspired by a traditional Nordic design heritage.”

On the design process Karen comments: "I work with a design method called DART (Driver Analysis – Reading Trends). This means that I examine the time spirit thoroughly, trends, colours and more. From there I choose a style prediction and then work with key words. For example for next season my style prediction/hunch is Not perfect and my inspiration is Art lines."

Read the full interview with Karen on Such & Such.

FROM BRAIN SCANS TO KNITWEAR PATTERNS

Cardiac radiographer and designer Brooke Robertscombines her two passions to create unique garments featuring bold patterns based on MRI brain scans and medical imagery.

Made from merino wool and "sports-tech composite yarns," Brooke and her team translate the digital medical scans into knitwear using cutting-edge programming and industrial digital knitting technology. A pioneer in the exploding sector of London's Fashion/Tech movement, Brooke is at the forefront of combining science, technology and fashion in her designs and recently gave a TED talkexplaining how she fuses radiography and knitwear design in her clothing.

 

PLANTS IN SPACE

We've moved on from pigs in space – now it's plants in space!

PLANT is a concept developed in collaboration between designers Piotr Szpryngwald and Mirko Ihrig,with experts and astronauts from NASA. It enables the astronauts to grow food on long duration space flights in a clean, easy and safe way.

The concept consists of a small pillow which contains the seed and hydroponic media, a special watering device which can both puncture and activate the pillow, and a growing chamber which informs astronauts about the harvesting cycles of their plants.

Take a look at more project photos here.

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Merry Christmas from all the team here at ZQ Merino! We're taking a little festive break, but will see you again in the New Year with our usual random assortment of all things interesting and woolly!

KEEP YOUR LITTLE ONES SNUG IN A SLEEPNEST

Driven by a desire to create wonderful things, the talented folk at The Little Adventure have certainly done that with Sleepnest.

The Sleepnest basket is designed in New Zealand and made from 100% pure New Zealand wool. With flexible and soft to touch sides, its simple twin panel design ensure that baby is fully cupped and supported during carrying with no load failure points. Selective placement of seam work creates a physically stable, durable architectural structure.

Apparently we're not the only ones who think that it's pretty cool, with Sleepnest recently picking up the bronze award at the BEST design awards in New Zealand.

MULTI-STORY TREE TENT

With the camping season fast approaching here in the Southern Hemisphere, these multi-story tree tents from Tentsile caught our eye!

The British firm likened their new Vista tent to a portable treehouse, while offering more flexibility than their previous tents, thanks to a removable roof and an ability to accommodate multiple stories.

The three-man (or two adults and two kids) Vista is based on Tentsile's Stingray model, and sports the same basic hammock/tent hybrid design as Tentsile's other products. It's suspended around 1.2 m (4 ft) off the ground, and is anchored to three nearby trees using a like number of ratchets and straps. Access is gained via the floor hatch in the center or the side entrances.

What's even cooler is that they plant 3 trees for every tent purchased!

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WOOL IN VOGUE

Vogue China in partnership with the Campaign for Wool and The Woolmark Company featured in its November 2014 edition wool apparel from leading Chinese brands, with the help of one of the most well-known models in China, Emma Pei, who travelled to rural Australia to discover where Merino wool comes from.

"Natural, renewable, biodegradable - Australian Merino wool is regarded as one of the finest and softest wools produced worldwide," Vogue says in the feature (of course if you ask us here at ZQ, we'd have to say that our Merino wool is better).

A feature in the November edition of GQ in China also featured the latest wool collections from some of China's leading menswear designer brands: Anzheng, Croquis, Notting Hill and Trending.  Source

GREEN DESIGN IDEAS

Ever feel like you need a little more green in you life?

Living in an urban environment can leave you craving for the great outdoors, which is no doubt the inspiration behind some of these ingenious design products inspired by nature. From a living moss bath matt to an ivy leaf bike lock, there's sure to be something to keep you calm until your next holiday!

Be sure to check out the original post over on Bored Panda for more.

Bloomin’ Designer’s Business Card, designed by Jamie Wieck

Bloomin’ Designer’s Business Card, designed by Jamie Wieck

Above: Greenhouse lamp, Designed by Kristyna Pojerova

Wearable planters, designed by Colleen Jordan

Wearable planters, designed by Colleen Jordan

Grass jandals, designed by Kusa

Grass jandals, designed by Kusa

ANIMATED SCIENCE ILLUSTRATIONS

Artist and designer Eleanor Lutz has a special knack for science illustration. Based in Seattle with a Bachelor's Degree in Molecular Biology, she has embarked on a year-long infographic design project. Her deconstructed bird and insect wing patterns illustration spread quickly around the internet recently, but she also has some other fascinating diagrams on her blog Tabletop Whale.

Who says science can't be beautiful too?

Pet friendly offices

At Ibex Outdoor Clothing, four-legged furry friends roam the hallways as frequently as people. Dogs are an integral part of the company’s culture, and have been since the company opened their doors in 1997. At least 15 dogs report to work each day at Ibex’s 50-person office. With almost as many dogs as employees, Ibex says "some days, it'€™s hard to know who'€™s running this place."

Pet-friendly offices are a growing trend, and for good reason. Allowing furry pals into the workplace can be beneficial to a company in many ways:

  • Improved work-life balance
  • Improve relationships among human coworkers
  • Lower stress
  • Improve employees' health
  • Boost creativity
  • Connecting with consumers

Meet the Ibex dogs here and read more from the original Fast Company article here.

Here at ZQ we also have a few regular furry visitors to the office, including the incredibly well-behaved Dice, pictured here patiently waiting for a treat!

Urban Farming with Hive-Inn City Farm

If you thought farming was best done in the country, then you haven’t seen the Hive-Inn City Farm designs. These proposed designs are for a modular, modern farming structure to be erected in the concrete jungle that is New York City.

Created by the visionaries at OVA Studio, based in Hong Kong, the Hive-Inn City Farm draws heavily on designs from the Hive-Inn Hotel, in which shipping containers are stacked upon one another to create a highly versatile, aesthetically appealing building.

The Hive-Inn City Farm was designed to nurture a complete ecosystem in which each of the shipping containers have a specific purpose within the unit, ranging from producing food, harvesting energy or recycling water and waste.

Fancy staying the night in a bird's nest?

Ever wondered what it would be like to stay the night in a bird's nest? Well, if you happen to be in Harads, Sweden you need wonder no more!

The Bird’s nest at Treehotel offers a unique hotel experience – the exterior is nothing but a gigantic bird’s nest, giving a camouflage so you quickly disappear and become part of the surroundings, while the interior, on the other hand, is familiar and exclusive. It’s a spacious environment where a family with two children can comfortably spread out.

The walls are clad with wood panels and the windows almost disappear in the exterior’s network of branches. The room is 17m² and has separate bedrooms, bathroom, and living area. You enter the Bird’s Nest with the help of a retractable staircase.

Treehotel treerooms are built using materials and construction techniques that make as little environmental impact as possible. They build on live trees without destroying them and do not chop down any other trees in the process.

They also have several other unique treehouses on offer, including The UFO and The Mirrorcube.