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The Future Has (Almost) Arrived with These Downloadable Designs

As we mentioned yesterday [www.sundance.tv], downloadable designs could, and should, definitely be a part of our greener way forward; it’s a great idea, but that’s about as far as it’s gotten, with one notable exception [www.sundance.tv]. The downloadable model is a ways from reality — we have the digital infrastructure (computers) necessary, but not the access to materials or availability of local craftspeople — but we can get part of the way there with designs that could fit in to this paradigm, given the proper infrastructure. Here are some of our favorite downloadable designs.

) For starters, check in on our vision of an Absolut world [www.treehugger.com], which has more background info and even some links to scaled-down models of some cool designs that you can download and create yourself, if only a model made from a piece of paper — hey, we gotta start somewhere.
) Dutch designer David Graas thinks garbage is poorly designed, so he conceived, designed and produced the Finish Yourself Stool [www.treehugger.com], pictured above, which you can download here [www.treehugger.com] so you can build it yourself. He says, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the discarded products would not cause problems for the environment? That you could throw them away without feeling guilty? Or the materials could be completely re-used without much effort?”
3) Designer and green-thinker-extraordinaire Bruce Sterling [www.treehugger.com] think the whole downloadable-design theory is a pretty good one; he’s coined the term “spime” to describe these future manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. “The future will see a new kind of object — we have the primitive forms of them now in our pockets and briefcases: user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured, and programmable — that will be sustainable, enhanceable, and uniquely identifiable.”

4) Laptop tables seem to be popular among the downloadable design crowd — we’ve seen three that all look pretty good. This one [www.treehugger.com], pictured above, by Shirley Pui-Yu Cheung, answers her questions: “Why not maximize a piece of 4’ x 4’ baltic birch wood by taking advantage of its natural beauty and making it multifunctional? An occasional side table that functions like a study or laptop table with an extra height space for a glass of juice or a book. When not in use as a laptop table it can be easily transported by grabbing on to the oval cutouts. Not only is it multifunctional but its non-conventional form makes doing work more fun!”
5) Bradley Marks’ version [www.treehugger.com] uses the same 4’ x 4’ sheet to create a totally different look: “Table as sculpture was the driving force behind the constructivist inspired cantilevered piece. Line and forms transform depending on the perspective from which the table is seen. In certain instances planar elements dominate, in others linear, while in some a false sense of mass is created.”
6) Angelique Lewis-Witte [www.treehugger.com] wanted to design a laptop table as mobile as a laptop itself: “Through the use of voids and shifting planar elements this piece is not only functional, but intriguing and playful. Visual continuity is created through the use of colour where one element penetrates the other.”

7) Downloadable designs aren’t just for laptops; they can be slick, transforming multi-taskers as well; check out Amy Law’s FlexTable [www.treehugger.com] (pictured above) for a good example. Inspired by the concept of a table that is as flexible as our needs, it is designed to be multifunctional, transformable and compact to reduce mass consumption. Why purchase three different units when one can perform all the functions? When the need to accommodate more people arises, simply swivel the top and flip up the side panel. Smooth.
8) Beyond just furniture, we’ve seen examples of pinhole cameras [www.treehugger.com], robot-built downloadable housing [www.treehugger.com] — a concept of it, at least, and even some fun kids’ toys [www.treehugger.com], to get the youngsters started on the idea at an early age.
9) Lastly, take a gander at the future of clothing: downloading your wardrobe [www.treehugger.com] (pictured below). The concept uses laser sintering technology to produce fabrics of interlocking links of plastic. Instead of producing textiles by the meter, then cutting and sewing them into final products, this concept has the ability to make needle and thread obsolete. Far out.