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Concepts to Like: Downloadable Design

Offering a synergy for design, global talent and local materials, downloadable design is a concept TreeHugger can really get behind. We’ve touched on this idea before [www.sundance.tv], but it certainly deserves more attention; after all, we live in a download-happy, digital world, so there’s no reason why we can’t extend that beyond downloading pictures from our cameras and messages from our email, to furniture we sit on and clothes we wear. Sound crazy? It’s definitely not; it’s just one of the ways we can see that’ll make for a greener future.

Okay, so, first of all, what the heck is “downloadable design?” Think of it as “an iPod for your whole life.” Rather than using an outdated infrastructure of centralized manufacturing matched with inefficient distribution and shipping and topped off with oversized, overblown retail, which you have to drive to, the design — a table, a chair, a garment — comes directly to you, via your computer. You get to pick exactly what you want, from a world of possibilities.

Once you’ve picked out whatever it is that you need, email the plans down the street to the local craftsperson; they take the plans for what you want, and deliver the pieces for you to assemble a few days later. The slow boat from China is a thing of the past as you can choose local, sustainable alternatives to having pre-assembled, bulky materials shipped from half way across the globe. As with the iPod model (if you don’t want the whole album, don’t buy it — simple as that), your ability to choose and hand-select everything makes for a more efficient process.

Okay, all of this sounds great, but does it really work? (Hint: oh yes, it does.) Above is d e sellers [www.desfurniture.com] “Emergency Stool,” which just needs to a table router and a flat sheet of plywood to go from computer screen to real life. Stay tuned as we delve a bit deeper into the concept (and practice) of downloadable designs.