Living Lounge Chair: Crazy Krejci’s Eco Ball Garden Chair

Posted by on June 3rd, 2008

    - image via

Being the Dutch design aficionados that we are, we don’t think we’ll ever get tired of playful Dutch design, especially when it’s as sustainable and delightful as Krejci’s ‘Let’s Grow Some Balls!’ chair, which is both a planter and chair all in one. A garden chair that IS the garden, users are brought closer to nature by being surrounded with it.

The ‘Eco-ball’ chair we saw at the Tuttobene show in Milan was a prototype, but designer Krejci is speaking to various potential partners in the injection moulding industry, aiming to release a variety of different models in different eco-materials, from recycled plastic, biodegradeable plastic and shredded wood that’s held together using natural plastic that biodegrades with heat. Dutch recycled plastic company AKG Polymer is already working with them.

Krejci’s design also tackles another problem associated with conventional design: users simply getting bored with the look and throwing it away. The constantly growing, changing and evolving contents maintain the user’s interest, and as people spend more time and effort tending to their chair-garden, a deeper relationship between user and furniture should blossom.

Link via

Plants Tell You What They Want

Posted by on May 31st, 2008

Growing plants would be a lot easier if plants could express what it is they need from you. Fret not because that’s what the Pet Plant by Junyi Heo does. The very sleek looking pot measures soil conditions, temperature, humidity, and water – calculates those variables based on the need of said plant, and expresses its condition via a series of pictograms on an LCD display.

It’s also smart enough to know if you’ve over watered and will systematically drain itself into a water vessel. All this high tech goodness does mean it needs power but a simple USB interface does double duty by charging and transmitting pertinent information to and from computer software.

Link & images via

Folding Greenhouse

Posted by on May 25th, 2008

    - image via

    - image via

Daniel Schipper has come up with this “Folding Greenhouse” design for city dwellers that need to spread their botanical love. This light-weight, flexible and modular greenhouse is perfect for small spaces and unfolds faster than you can say origami. The Folding Greenhouse’s frameless folding construction is made entirely out of recyclable plastic. Making this the greenest green house we have seen so far.

Link via

Urban Oasis in Osaka

Posted by on May 17th, 2008

taken by A Posh Sentinel

via mopendronin

CIRCUITS – The Robotic Lawn Mower Will Take Your Call Now

Posted by on May 13th, 2008

Using your cellphone … to mow your lawn?

Owners of Kyodo America’s newest robotic lawn mower, the LawnBott LB3500, can program the little guy using a Bluetooth-equipped mobile phone, telling the mower when to leave its docking station and run around your estate, happily chewing up the grass while you sip a mint julep.

The $3,249 device can mow up to an acre out of the box — and two acres if you add two more lithium-ion batteries. A guy wire tacked around your property’s perimeter keeps the LawnBott from straying into your neighbor’s yard.

Link and photo via

Conceptual artificial plant enables you to practice before slaying flora

Posted by on May 10th, 2008

This eloquently dubbed Practice Plant features a trio of “flowers” that display barometric readings and turn colors depending on status, and the surrounding leaves will droop to signify their need for attention.

Link and photo via

Renzo Piano’s Green Museum in San Francisco

Posted by on May 8th, 2008

Renzo Piano’s new green museum, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is almost finished and what a natural phenomenon it is. Located in famous Golden Gate Park, and housing an aquarium, planetarium, and natural-history museum under two “hills” which are really a two-and-a-half-acre “living roof”, the building looks like a part of the park from some views.

As Piano says: “The building had to be green and sustainable to go with its purpose—study of the earth and science. It is also in a very unusual place, the middle of one of the most beautiful parks in the world. You almost never get a chance to build something in the middle of a great park, so it needed to be transparent. You needed to see where you are. Normally, a museum of natural science is created like a theater, so that you can have the exhibits inside. All museums normally are opaque; they are closed, like a kingdom of darkness, and you are trapped inside. But here you need to know about the connection with nature, so almost anywhere you are in this building you can see through to the outside.”

n his efforts to make the greenest museum possible Piano is very concerned with energy efficiency and the building has a number of energy saving devices. The 2.5 acres of living roof will absorb nearly two million gallons of rainwater per year that would otherwise go down the drain. During heavy downpours when the living rooftop is at maximum capacity, water will be siphoned off the roof to an underground water table system that will siphon it back into the park.

Piano was determined to build it without air conditioning. Through a complicated system of weather sensors that tell a central computer what motorized windows to open and close, the entire museum is cooled with untreated outside air. Even the skylights automatically pop open to vent hot air. The undulating roofline brings cool air into the open courtyard at the centre of the building, naturally ventilating the surrounding exhibit spaces. The official opening is September 27, 2008. This building is sure to become an essential architectural and environmental stop for anyone looking for good green design

Link via

Beautiful & gorgeous.

Living Furniture

Posted by on May 5th, 2008

In 1986 Peter had the idea of growing a chair. Nine years later Peter and Becky became partners. Pooktre was born. Together they have mastered the art they call Pooktre, which is the shaping of trees as they grow in predetermined designs. Some are intended for harvest to be high quality indoor furniture and others will remain living art.

Link via

Salvia Research Goes Mainstream

Posted by on May 4th, 2008

Researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory are conducting studies on the physical absorption of Salvia divinorum in order to determine if it has any conventional medicinal properties and to determine why it is used.

Quickly gaining popularity among teenagers and young adults, salvia is legal in most states, but is grabbing the attention of municipal lawmakers. Numerous states have placed controls on salvia or salvinorin A – the plant’s active component – and others, including New York, are considering restrictions.

“This is probably one of the most potent hallucinogens known,” said Brookhaven chemist Jacob Hooker, the lead author of the study, which is the first to look at how the drug travels through the brain. “It’s really important that we study drugs like salvia and how they affect the brain in order to understand why they are abused and to investigate their medicinal relevance, both of which can inform policy makers.”

Hooker and fellow researchers used positron emission tomography, or PET scanning, to watch the distribution of salvinorin A in the brains of anesthetized primates. In this technique, the scientists administer a radioactively labeled form of salvinorin A (at concentrations far below pharmacologically active doses) and use the PET scanner to track its site-specific concentrations in various brain regions.

Within 40 seconds of administration, the researchers found a peak concentration of salvinorin A in the brain – nearly 10 times faster than the rate at which cocaine enters the brain. About 16 minutes later, the drug was essentially gone. This pattern parallels the effects described by human users, who experience an almost immediate high that starts fading away within 5 to 10 minutes.

High concentrations of the drug were localized to the cerebellum and visual cortex, which are parts of the brain responsible for motor function and vision, respectively. Based on their results and published data from human use, the scientists estimate that just 10 micrograms of salvia in the brain is needed to cause psychoactive effects in humans.

PET scan of a monkey brain with Salvia intake The research is notable for a few reasons.  First of all, like the article says, “The drug targets a receptor that is known to modulate pain and could be important for therapies as far reaching as mood disorders.”   However, there’s also the issue of Salvia’s Scheduling to contend with as more mainstream research, even as it continualy shows Salvia to have no negative side effects, does lead to further and further attempts to make it illegal.  (Research like this is part of the “eight factor test” which the Controlled Substances Act requires before a substance can be called a “controlled substance” and made illegal to posses.)

There’s also the interesting question of the methodologies they’re using to attempt to figure out why people “abuse” Salvia.

Salvia doesn’t cause the typical euphoric state associated with other hallucinogens like LSD, Hooker said. The drug targets a receptor that is known to modulate pain and could be important for therapies as far reaching as mood disorders.

“Most people don’t find this class of drugs very pleasurable,” Hooker said. “So perhaps the main draw or reason for its appeal relates to the rapid onset and short duration of its effects, which are incredibly unique. The kinetics are often as important as the abused drug itself.”

The logic there — that Salvia despite not having a euphoric high and despite being quite useless as a recreational drug is popular because it is fast acting — is interesting, to say the least.

There’s also a usage of language that presages an issue that all Grinders (not just those invested in cognitive and neurological freedoms, like myself)  will eventually have to deal with.    The press-release says that Salvia does not produce euphoria, but they still refer to a “high”.  Salvia is a non-addictive legal substance but users are still referred to as “abusing” it.   This is the linguistic legacy of the War on Drugs and it’s a tricky hurdle that more and more is going to face other kinds of Grinders, as well.  Just as it’s hard to discuss “drugs” without using the language of drug control, for good or ill — it is also policy of organizations like the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that body modification is always mutilation.  As the phenomenon of people testbeding technologies and techniques in their own body comes more into public awareness, the more that the language of mutilation and body dysmorphia will make it hard to have a conversation about the ideas that drive various flavours of Grinding.   (Not that body dysmorphia is not a real thing… it is just happens to also be easily used as a way of controlling the perceived experiences of body modders.)

But I digress.  Salvia is an fascinating substance with a long and expansive history  that I find pretty useful, in regards to the “making your head bigger” flavour of Grinding.  When looking for reasons why it is abused, I tend to think that perhaps researching quotes like this:

“The purpose of these sacraments is to purify, and to open the road. When it opens,
it’s as clear as the blue sky, and the stars at night are as bright as suns.”
—Aurelia Aurora Catarino (Mazatec shaman)

Might be just as helpful as creating a hypothesis that links the substance’s use with how fast it is absorbed and processed, even though it’s not recreationally useful at all.

Although, speaking of useful, if you’re interested in following up on Salvia further yourself here is Daniel Siebert’s Salvia divinorum FAQ and his comprehensive listing of Salvia laws and restrictions, both taken from his excellent and informative Sage Wisdom website.

For city-dwelling gardeners

Posted by on April 29th, 2008

    - image via

Living in a city and doing proper gardening is like running your own business from prison: technically possible, but very tricky to pull off.

Here to help is designer Francois Clerc, whose Graine de Pot is “a wholly biodegradable object which lasts about nine months. The seed is planted in the Spring so the plant can be enjoyed all Summer. In October everything can be thrown away in an organic rubbish tip [sic] to be turned into compost.”


Vertical (Diagonal?) Farm from Work AC in NYC

Posted by on April 22nd, 2008

    - image via

We love vertical farms, the idea of food being grown right in the city, it doesn’t get any more local than this. New York magazine asked four architects to dream up proposals for a lot on Canal Street and Work AC came up with this. “We thought we’d bring the farm back to the city and stretch it vertically,” says Work AC co-principal Dan Wood. “We are interested in urban farming and the notion of trying to make our cities more sustainable by cutting the miles [food travels],” adds his co-principal (and wife) Amale Andraos. Underneath is what appears to be a farmers market, selling what grows above. Artists would be commissioned to design the columns that hold it up and define the space under: “We show a Brancusi, but it could be anyone,” says Wood. ::New York Magazine

Link via

Retrofitting our Skyscrapers For Food and Power

Posted by on April 19th, 2008

    image via


Nicolai Ouroussoff writes about all the new glass towers architects are designing in New York these days; they are lovely things, but what will power them or feed their occupants in years to come? Green roofs won’t do it, they are too small. Daekwon Park has a great idea, seen in the 2008 Evolo skyscraper competition: a way to reunite the isolated city blocks and insert a multi-layer network of public space, green space and nodes for the city.

Purple-shaded glasses to spot garden trouble in advance

Posted by on April 4th, 2008

These plant examining glasses bring technology developed by NASA and the Department of Agriculture and brings to your humble backyard. Put these on and you’ll be able to see areas of your lawn that may need a little help long before you’d observe the problems with your naked eyes. The lenses block out the green reflected by chlorophyll in the healthy areas of your lawn and garden, causing those areas to show as black or gray. Any unhealthy spots, deficient in chlorophyll, will show up as pink, red or coral colors. It’s the plant equivalent of full-body MRIs that detect problems before their symptoms surface.

From boingboing. Original article here.

Walls of Green

Posted by on March 26th, 2008

    - photo via

We spotted Michael Hellgren’s green designs at the Stockholm Design Week. This less usual landscape architect designs vertical gardens, or better walls, made out of plants.

Växtväggen (Swedish for “Plantwall”) is a self-supporting system composed of a reinforced, multi-layered, synthetic and absorbent felt-surface on which plants are applied into small pockets. Michael says: “Just like any garden, the vertical garden is a place of life and change. I try to achieve it by finding the essence of every plant – it could be a special color of its leafs, its texture, the way it growths etc – and give each species an environment where this may be at display.”

His work with these living materials seem to blend with all kinds of places – so keep your eyes open for plant wall sightings. Apart from his interior applications we love this urban approach where contrasting plant walls enrich the public spaces of us city slickers.


sorry.. that was my plant

Posted by on February 25th, 2008

You’re sitting in a cafe or bar, enjoying a drink with your buddy when a text message comes through. You glance at the message, and excuse yourself to make a quick call. Seconds later you’re back to your conversation. “Sorry”, you say, “that was my plant”.

Scratch one more thing off the sci-fi future list. Thanks to the boffins at Botanicalls your plants can now Twitter you when they’re thristy!

A quick phone call back and they’re all watered again.

Now, no matter where you go, you can be there for your plants.

via MAKE: Blog

See also: