Category Archives: Transportation

Come Ride With Me

Rush-hour streets of New York

Rush-hour streets of New York

 

With fuel prices on the rise and the effects of global warming becoming more apparent each day, many commuters are turning to greener ways of transportation.  In New York, cab sharing is becoming a popular and cost-effective way to get from place to place.  Websites such as RideAmigos.com allows New Yorkers to search for fellow riders with common destinations and arrange to share a ride.  In Washington D.C., a program called SmartBike DC allows commuters to rent bicycles by the hour to efficiently get around the Capitol.  In Paris, a similar bike rental program, called Velib, allows Parisians (and tourists) access to public bicycles, creating an effective alternative for reaching destination points between Metro stations.  Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA takes the concept of rental bicycles one step further by providing “trailer bikes,” bicycles equipped with carts, as an eco-friendly way for shoppers to transport their flat-packed goods back home. These innovative methods of alternative transportation are gradually beginning to take off in many major cities.

Velib bike rental station in Paris

Velib bike rental station in Paris

In New York, a crowded city where traffic congestion and delayed subway trains are a daily nuisance, it would be refreshing to find other (greener) means of transportation. However, a recurring problem is that most urban roads were not designed with cyclists in mind.  The lack of separate bicycle lanes in many cities heightens the risk of accidents for cyclists, and also deters many from considering biking as an alternate form of commute.  This trend for sustainability is still relatively new, and many people are only slowly beginning to adapt to the mindset of a sustainable lifestyle.   Thus, predictably, it will take a while before cities such as New York are able to fully embrace change for a more sustainable society. WU

Advertisements

Green Racer

With fuel prices on the rise, and governments attempting to curb carbon emissions, it’s no surprise that the auto industry is leaning towards more eco-friendly cars. Recent auto shows revealed a new generation of cars that are more sustainable than ever before. What sets the new breed of hybrid cars apart is that, unlike past concepts, many of these vehicles are more practical and road-ready.

Toyota has introduced a new Prius that draws on solar energy for power, creating an endless source of renewable energy. The energy will power the car’s air conditioning unit, making for a more fuel-efficient ride. Fellow Japanese company, Honda, is not far behind, with a Civic hybrid that utilizes lightweight parts made from biodegradable materials. Leading French automobile company, Peugeot, has also been dedicated to developing sustainable vehicles. Their urban-friendly Citroen C-Cactus prototype debuted last year in Frankfurt, and they’ve recently introduced the 308 RCZ, a fuel-efficient car jointly produced with BMW. The 308 BioFlex represents a new wave of cars that run on eco-conscious biofuel.

What is innovative about these eco-cars is that the designers have more to consider than just performance and aesthetics. They must tap into a specific lifestyle and market where people want smaller, lighter, and more sustainable vehicles. Drivers are increasingly seeking cars that can reduce their environmental impact. As new technologies make way for a dazzling array of possibilities, it won’t be long before “green” cars dominate the roads. WU

BMW Fabric Car

Most automobiles are fabricated in hard plastic, glass and metal, requiring many parts and joints. The team at BMW has rethought this approach and presented a seamless skin concept. The outcome is both ergonomic and beautiful.

Design Futurist believes the best innovation not only makes objects more beautiful, it makes them more functional. General complaints from drivers have little to do with the surface and everything to do with poor durability, vulnerable electrical systems and complicated repairs.

Seamless design can mean more graceful lines, simpler parts, and fluid transitions. We hope BMW, extends this thought process to the internal design of future cars. NATALIA

Simon Collins: Carving a Path to Sustainability

Interview with Simon Collins, Chair of Parsons School of Fashion at The New School on: Carving a Path to Sustainability.

NATALIA: How did you first become interested in fashion?
SIMON: As a teenager it became obvious to me that girls liked boys who looked
cool. Hence fashion called to me

NATALIA: Give folks a bit of insight on what exactly your new role entails?
SIMON: I look after our BFA, MFA and AAS (Fashion) courses, for the first time
they all come together as the School of Fashion. I am charged with
creating links between Parsons and the fashion industry in new and
innovative ways. More than providing interns we will be looking for ways
to provide information and creative thinking – particularly in the
sustainable arena where industry is not yet at the forefront.

NATALIA: Is sustainability important to you. Why?

SIMON: Sustainability is important to me, just as it should be to everyone.
Frankly it’s hard to see how anyone can genuinely not think
sustainability is important. The earth’s resources aren’t ours to use up
and discard, we all have responsibilities.

NATALIA: How do you envision sustainability influencing fashion?

SIMON: It used to be that being ecologically conscious meant you had to rule
out many things. Now new options are opening up all the time and instead
we have a whole range of new materials and processes that didn’t exist
before. Fashion isn’t going to change any quicker than it ever has, but
it is going to adopt more and more sustainable aspects.

NATALIA: What challenges have you had with sustainable fashion?

SIMON: Mainly with business managers refusing to use anything sustainable if
it meant a single extra penny on the price of a product. I could name
names…

NATALIA: What are some of the current sustainable projects you are working on?

SIMON: At Parsons we have our sustainable fingers in many different pies, too
numerous to mention here.

NATALIA: Why do you think sustainable fashion does not get as much attention
as hybrid cars or organic food?

SIMON: Because the ad budgets for those fashion companies using sustainable
products cannot compare to those of the food and auto industries. Until
one of the big fashion corporations decides to actually do the right
thing (rather than just garner PR by talking about it) we will be
reliant on small companies with small budgets.

NATALIA: Where do you see the sustainable fashion in 10 years?

SIMON: I don’t expect to see a revolution. But I do anticipate a slow and
inexorable movement towards sustainability without any design
compromise. Only when it looks the same and costs the same (as
unsustainable) will it truly take off.

Missing the Mark

nataliaallen-design-futuris.jpg
Several forecasts on the future of technology and design exposed how little attention is paid to the customer. Few prioritize how and why humans benefit from technology, desire or will use it in ten years. Instead the reports glorified novel ideas and small improvements on existing products. Innovation is already an overused word, however, in it’s meaning there is opportunity to institute change. There are very few of us that get excited at the thought of nano-particle formation or new computer widgets. We do enjoy saved time, easier commutes and cleaner environments. Only when companies organize behind the belief that good design equals good business, will the product offerings progress modern life. That said, every now and then beautiful innovation rises to the top, so I am hopeful. NATALIA ALLEN

Futuristic Transportation

toyota_ireal.jpg

The 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, running from Oct. 26 to Nov. 11 recently exhibited an innovative mobility ‘solution’ to our traffic and commuting problems; the i-Real by Toyota. The i-Real has been noted to look like a cross between ET and a car seat, with two wheels in the front, one in the back. Although certain elements such as the wheelbase have been designed for better maneuverability and performance, reviewers are still skeptical about the safety of the design. Toyota reassures that the i-Real employs safety equipment such as proximity sensors that will warn the driver by emitting a noise and vibrating when it predicts a collision. However, critics were still skeptical about the design and thought it to be dangerous and unrealistic to have the i-Real weaving through rush-hour traffic.