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Sustainability Deals with Systems: Ori Ben-Zvi

For ten years, Ori Ben-Zvi has been a practitioner and an academic who works with sustainable design. He’s an industrial designer lecturing at Holon Technology Institute at the department of industrial design.

Cutting Board

Ubico Studio

Ubico studio is a small design studio that takes their materials from dumpsters, renovations works and the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel, and so creates high quality sustainable furniture and accessories.

The Interview

1. How old where you when you first toke interest in recycled industrial design?

Am not sure actually - used to do stuff of old bits and pieces of Plexiglas at high school must have been around 15-16 but the real few works came up when I was trying to apply for design studies, so I guess that will be 24 approx.

2. When working with sustainable design, what are the most important things to think about?

Well, I can’t really say that there is a "most important thing”, the thing about sustainability is first and forth most that it deals with systems - that means there are always many variables which one need relate to.

I would argue the most valuable thing is to start by understanding there is a need to relate to a very broad perspective which starts with the raw material, continues with the production technology, should relate to the social aspects and economical aspects of production, consider the user's use of the object through its first life cycle and relate to how it ends its life or recycles.

3. Your production unit takes material from dumpsters and streets, how do you get inspiration to create new object out of them?

Guess I don't really get inspired - I simply play, I cut stuff and reconnect it, or integrate parts of different objects and wonder what is the new context which stems off that. And I sketch stuff a fair bit, sometimes just existing pieces to "feel" their qualities.

4. Who have influenced you the most when it comes to sustainable design?

Well when I was at Uni it would be droog design and Buckminster Fuller, later the writing of Manzini and McDonough.

But mostly I would say I was influenced by the years I spent travelling in developing countries and being in rural un"developed" environments.

5. What are the most common materials that go to waste?

Depends on the place - here in Israel its - glass, plastics which are not PET (which is collected though most of it not recycled) and wood

6. Where should one turn to learn more about sustainable design?

Start by reading cradle to cradle - it's well written and very clear, after that simply look for organizations close to where U live.

7. What advice do you have for an aspiring designer?

Look for what really gets you "turned on" design wise - anything else is a waste of your time. Try to think of the environment in which you wanna work and not only the title. But mainly, be passionate, this profession ain't another”job"; we (designers) shape the world.


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