Design: Earth Connections

Take ten far-flung places, ten accomplished designers, and ten fascinatingly executed eco-friendly creations, and the result is Design for a Living Worldan exhibition that highlights a fundamental connection with earth’s natural resources — which wraps up a three-year tour in Miami after appearing at New York City’s Cooper-Hewitt and Chicago’s Field museums.

Curated by The Nature Conservancy, the project commissioned noted designers from several fields (including fashion’s Isaac Mizrahi) who traveled to locations around the world in search of indigenous natural materials, with a focus on their sustainable potential.

Apart from their artistic value, the goal was to showcase items that could serve as examples for everyday use, while helping to ensure that the resources from these diverse locales – which are often victims of overdevelopment, climate change, and deforestation – remain viable and protected. (And it’s also a way of promoting more efficient and thoughtful alternatives to the often wasteful production and distribution of furnishings and other goods.)

Among the prototypes: the bench, shown top, created by architect Maya Lin from slices of harvested red maple found on the banks of the Upper St. John River in Maine; the chairs, center, by Abbott Miller, designed with Jatoba wood from Santa Cruz, Bolivia; and ivory nut palms from the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, carved by jewelry designer Ted Muehling into a necklace, right. (More photos in a slide show here.)

The works are expected to be auctioned at the end of the exhibit’s South Florida run on October 25.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Nature Conservancy president Mark Tercek noted that the project “reminds us that we can promote a global conservation ethic by choosing sustainable materials that support, rather than deplete, our endangered places.” Undertakings like Living World play an important role in raising that awareness.

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