Company

Revitalize industrial traditions with contemporary designs.

A Finnish-Korean firm called Company travels to places with a rich industrial heritage—Belgium, Germany, Korea, Russia, Finland—and works with the local craftspeople to create new products in a contemporary way while demonstrating the skills of the industrial traditions.

Company designs these incredibly charming products. One is called “Car Shoes,” made in Busan, Korea. The shoes look like race cars: one shoe has race car driver Michael Schumacher and the other has driver Kimi Raikkonen. As you walk, it looks like they are racing each other.

Another is called the “Winter Tie,” which was created with an old Finnish manufacturer. It’s essentially a hybrid between a scarf and a tie.

There’s a very nice pair of felt shoes called “Dance Shoes,” also from Finland. They are made for a father. On top of his shoe, there’s a much smaller shoe made for his daughter, a place for her when they are dancing together.

In Korea they collaborated with craftspeople to create “Noodle Shoes,” which is a pair of sneakers that have laces like noodles sitting on top, a curly ornament. They are selling quite well. The Bibimbag, named after the famous spicy Korean dish, “keeps all your ingredients separate.”

There’s a very nice bag from Bavaria, a region famous for sausages and leather products. They went into a leather factory and collaborated with the factory workers to create the incredibly feminine and elegant “Metal Bag,” which is made out of the chain mail used in butcher’s gloves.

Rather than applying a universal approach everywhere, these products are about taking the time and care to discover local conditions. They look at each situation, culture, and climate in a specific way and try to evolve or invent an approach that gets the maximum amount of impact out of available resources. It’s about creating designs really tailored to local cultures.

Bjarke Ingels is the founding partner of the architecture and urban design firm, BIG.

This is an excerpt from Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World by Jared Green, published by Princeton Architectural Press, reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Image credit: Dancing Shoes / COMPANY

Angkor Wat

Connect achitecture to the natural world.

I’m inspired by Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Angkor Wat is beautiful because its architecture is deeply connected with the natural world. Even in its ruined state, Angkor Wat is an optimistic place. This temple complex, which was built in the twelfth century, is the largest on earth. In the preindustrial era, Angkor City was actually the world’s most populated city.

The temple complex is supported by a hydraulic engine—eastern and western pools, which are called barays. They are entirely handmade. While the eastern baray is now dry, the western one still holds acres of water. The western baray is larger than Central Park in New York City.

Khmer culture prospered between the tenth and fifteenth centuries because the Khmer were wise stewards of a precious natural resource: water. Khmer culture is a monsoon one. Even their calendar is arranged around the cycle of wet and dry periods. Angkor Wat’s pools, which were imbued with a spiritual quality, were built so that an extra crop could be grown in the dry season.

But some experts believe the pools were also built because of Cambodia’s extremely hot climate. The pools function as evaporative cooling towers or plate heat exchanges, creating cooling breezes. Buildings are oriented to block out the harshest sun, while deep-shaded walkways provide access to the stone temples, which are hollow with a narrow aperture at the top. Breezes then move across the pools down the pathways into the holy centers of temples, which are basically thermal chimneys. Essentially, the Khmer created air conditioning.

We are really just beginning to understand the complex geometry and proportions of Angkor Wat.

Rick Cook is founder and principal of Cook + Fox.

This is an excerpt from
Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World by Jared Green, published by Princeton Architectural Press, reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Image credit: Angkor Wat / Chi King, Creative Commons