[58] Chiang Mai – Keep Refining

‘Keep Refining’ is the theme of the Chiang Mai Design Week 2018. A week full of events considering design, from designing cutlery to jewellery, from chairs to greenhouses, from static exhibitions to dynamic workshops and concerts. Here are some of them who were dedicated to sustainability.

In the right corner, slightly apart from the 4D-designs at the left-hand side of the Three Kings Monument, and apart from the other designs at the right-hand side of the monument waits a fascinating bamboo construction for its curious visitors to explore.

Durable Bamboo

Chiang Mai - bamboo shelter 1.JPG

‘Because of Chiang Mai is located in a region prone to earthquakes,’ is explained, ‘the shelters have to be created durable.’ Say what? First of all, the construction is made out of sustainable materials, such as bamboo, which is not only a very strong and hence durable material but has the potential to capture an extremely high amount of CO2 as well, and hence can serve as a carbon sink in the fight against global warming.

Secondly, besides the material, the design of the shelters enhances the strength of the material by being built in triangular shapes. Honestly, the shelter looks like a cosy house and I would be willing to live in one of these, or at least to camp in it for a while. Moreover, the furniture inside the shelters is made out of bamboo as well, giving it a rustic, and at the same time sustainable outlook.

What would you do?

Next to the shelter the creators of the shelter (a partnership between architectures of the CMU, and a Chiang Mai-based manufacturer Gerard Collection) have written a question which can be answered by the visitors with coloured stickers, depending on your age. ‘What would you do if you have to live in this shelter?’

After a few days the whiteboard is transformed into a pleasant looking coloured board, where every age is represented by a different colour. It makes me wonder, what I would do if I have to live in a shelter, when my home would be destroyed by an earthquake or any other natural disaster.

Chiang Mai - bamboo shelter within

To live or not to live

Since the climate conference in Katowice and the report of the IPCC are still echoing, I have the scary feeling that this shelter might become more than an object on an exhibition; it might become more than a funny question to giggle about during the design week; it might become a scary way of reality, a new way of living.

It reminds me of the many shelters I’ve seen in the Peruvian coastal region, where the shelters were donated after a tsunami swept away entire villages some years ago. Today, a lot of people are still living in them. They are integrated in the current way of living, and probably not questioned anymore. People probably don’t ask anymore what they would do if they had to live in a shelter. They live in it.

Garden at a desk

On the other side of the street are other interesting designs exhibited; my favorite must be the simplistic ‘home-garden furniture’. This sounds weird, but if you see it, it is genius.

Chiang-Mai - home-garden without

Take one step back, watch as if you are an innocent visitor, simply looking to nice furniture. You’ll see a couple of plants displayed in closets and on the table. So far, so good. Watch closer now, the plants are not flowers or typical decorative plants, they are eatable. I can recognise lettuce and kale for sure.

So, come a bit closer now, notice how you can pull the shelves out of the closet, so the plants can be exposed to natural air and light. Now, go through your knees and look up, in the closet; look how under each shelve, and hence on top of each plant, a lightning element has been built-in, so the plant – even if not rolled out of its closet – can still receive the light it needs.

Wrap it all up, and you have a decorative element of greenery in your house, look closer and you have a greenhouse growing your vegetables within the limited space of modern houses.

There are much more designs to discuss, in which designers recycle, re-use or re-design objects in order to make our consumption pattern a little bit more sustainable. I had to pick some of them, and I choose the before-mentioned ones. They are inspiring and innovative.

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