Frau R. came back this week from a conference in Tennessee. Whilst away, she picked up a Christmas gift for my son: a small box, suitable to sit on a desk or dresser, made from disused computer circuit boards. It seems to be covered in some sort of lacquer or polyurethane, so I'm not entirely sure how environmentally sensitive the thing is, but it's different, he'll like it, and anything that keeps heavy metals out of the landfills is OK by me.
Trying to learn more about the construction (and also to find out how badly she'd been ripped off at the tourist-trap where she bought it), I went looking online. Didn't find the specific model of box she bought, but I found similar things (and the answer is: not too badly). More to the point, I stumbled upon Inhabitat -- a wonderful website featuring current thinking in sustainable architecture and design of all sorts.
I say "wonderful", but that's just my first impression. When it comes to architecture and design and other things at all artistic, I'm really no judge. Still, I strongly suspect that the site, and images from it, will be useful in my conversations with artistically and architecturally oriented students. Bright young people with lots of talent and all the right instincts can benefit from seeing what others are doing, and thinking, and trying out. Stimuli and sounding boards. Non-zero starting points. Impulses to say "gee, that's interesting, but what I would have done is . . . ".
Anyway, to the eye of this non-artist, a lot of the designs (exteriors, interiors, consumer products and fashion) seem beautiful, and a number of them (energy & transportation solutions, particularly) are potentially intriguing. Some of the circuit-boards-repurposed-as-art (or, at least, -as-craft) are orders of magnitude more beautiful than the one Frau R. found. (More expensive, too, I'll bet.) But best of all, Inhabitat seems to be truly a grassroots cooperative effort. Not a transnational corporation in sight. (Of course, the eye of this beholder isn't as sharp as it once was, but stil . . .).