This month Inhabitat hit the scene of the Puro Diseno Fair in Buenos Aires to bring you the best green designs from Argentina's creative capital. We found many examples under the same roof at the annual fair, which is held at the massive La Rural exhibition space. The fair covered 40,000 square feet and contains 350 exhibitors showcasing their latest creations under the theme: color. Jump ahead for an exclusive look at some fantastic eco-design ideas from South America’s creatives, as Inhabitat writer Ana Lisa Alperovich shares her experience!
As soon as you enter the massive labyrinth of stands, you are met with Kuku‘s lovely little stand. You probably remember the plant pots made from old light bulbs from out Spring Greening Contest, but now Kuku has created a smaller version that glows in the dark! Standing next to a little machine the designer made herself for chopping the top off eggs was Kuku’s 6-pack eggshell plants. They are perfect for a sunny desk or a windowsill but unfortunately they were not up for sale, but just to add a little something to the charming decoration. Also designed by Kuku, are some tinted colored glasses made from wine and whisky bottles and a set of water-based, hand-printed handkerchiefs with writer Cortazar’s Instructions for crying. A very poetic idea for an object to keep always at hand, particularly as winter is just starting here in Argentina.
Kuku won this year’s Best Stand Design Prize (sharing the space –and price- with jewelry designer friend Marina Callis). Made from repurposed wood beams as shelves and builders’ floorboards as walls, all materials where lended by an architect friend. Kuku’s space stands out for its simplicity, cute factor and eco-friendly approach to a temporary exhibition space.
At the MASEKOS stand we found the recycled wallets made from plastic bags at a cartonero’s recycling warehouse we recently told you about. All profits made at Puro Diseno Fair will get back to the makers encouraging and promoting sustainability. We also liked Maseko’s Pupupack, a biodegradable kit, made from folded recycled cardboard – complete with instructions and a wooden stick – to collect your dog’s poo from public spaces while avoiding de use of plastic bags.
Even thought there are many accessories stands to be seen selling handbags and laptop cases from scrap fabric, our favorite is Carro. They make different size and shapes cases, wallets, handbags and even rucksacks made from reused suits, ties and other random fabrics with an exquisite attention to detail, high quality finishes and long lasting design. The latest news from Carro is the coffee sacks jute bags hanging together with others made from recycled cotton cleaning cloth and north Argentine fluorescent woven pieces.
Recycled rubber scrap from car’s wheels heated and molded into shape makes amazing stools and plant pots. Aligned with this year’s Color theme, Cordoba-based UAU Disegno painted the black material to give the exterior objects and furniture a bit of a twist. Greca, which is a design studio that makes decorative objects from scrap buttons and resin they get from a friend’s factory, where selling these colorful one-of-a-kind bracelets, hard like candies. Another design studio making fantastic plastic accessories is Ni chicha ni limonada. They create all kind of wearable art made from recycled plastic cables from different sources like telephone ones, lighting and any other bold and bright ones they find lying around.
If after all these recycled plastic and colorful designs you need some brown earthy rest to the eyes, here is Pomada, a studio we have also featured with their cardboard tubes lounge chair. With a stand completely made from their favorite recycled material, Pomada fitted their space with a wide variety of their designs including stools, tables and chairs together with affordable recycled jewelry like this empty tape bracelets, proving that nothing gets wasted.
We loved the coffee bean fabric upholstered stool they got from the same source as Carro, and we also loved to heard that they have been awarded with this year’s Puro Diseno Golden Prize. Congratulations!
Mesh bags for washing delicate cloth where being re-packaged and re-sold as vegetables bags. Very light and good for bringing with you to the market and also keeping your fruits and vegetables dry inside the fridge as they are made from a holed breathable material. Re-designed by Carmen de Pic-Nic.
This year there was a lack of big objects and furniture, as designers where keen of selling small affordable objects to pay off for their stand. But this wooden bench from Arqom based in the north province of Chaco was definitely one of the high-end pieces from the Fair. Made from sustainable and locally sourced reclaimed wood, this long bench is designed for disassembly and all parts are stuck together, avoiding the use of glue and nails while making it easier for transportation.
What we did see was a lot of felt. The Argentine National Institute for Industrial Technology (INTI) was launching a book containing their extensive work with the biodegradable material, and their booth showcased many designers who are working with the soft material.
One of the new and nice surprises we found at this year’s Puro Diseno Fair was Billet Bill, a brand by Buenos Aires-based French designer Adelaide Aronio. Trained as a graphic designer, Adelaide makes cute hand-drawn illustrated books, bags, T-shirts and other objects hand-printed with water-based eco-friendly inks onto unbleached canvas.
Regarding jewelry, the girls from Cruz DellaCasa were exhibiting their glamorous sparkling jewelry. Necklaces and brooches made from repurposed vintage buttons and fabrics were just a few pieces from their line inspired by the past, but made for today’s women.
Another brand we liked was Llamas del llano. They mainly work with llama hair, making big warm sweaters in the llamas natural colors like greys, creams, blacks and browns — all are locally sourced and handmade by artisans from the north of the country. The group is also producing jewelry out of left over material, combining felt balls, llama hairballs and cute acorn seeds tops, making them (almost) entirely biodegradable.
The Argentine version to American TOMS shoes, which are in fact a shoe design taken from Argentina’s gauchos, alpargatas, was also standing at Puro Diseno Fair under the name of Paez Shoes. This very basic footwear made from canvas and a jute sole are very comfortable, biodegradable and comes in a wide variety of designs.
From the northern province of Tucumán, comes a design studio called Des-Hechos who made a recycled wooden installation at their stand with old wood from vegetable crates and pallets. As well as children chairs, low stools and tables, the arty tree intends to remind shoppers and passers by, where wood originally comes from. Des-Hechos works with urban rubbish and left overs from mass-manufactured products, like these bright lights made from plastic plates and discarded yellow champagne coolers.
Remember the old Levi’s T-shirts that you could cut and customize yourself? Choosing a desired neckline and arms length according to your own style and needs, Inhaus has mimicked the same concept, but their version is made from locally grown organic cotton!
And to finish off with our favorite green designs from Puro Diseno Fair is Cosecha Vintage, a brand by Alejandra Gougy who makes handmade clothes from scrap nylon tights. She told Inhabitat about her latest idea of a social, inclusive project that will encourage customers to donate their broken tights, so dissabled people will learn the knitting skill by making a big textile together.
Each year the fair’s different areas showcase a variety of design disciplines from around the country including fashion, textiles, accessories, lightning, products and graphics. This year they also included food and packaging, as well as commercial stands, workshops, talks, presentations, prizes and business meetings with internationals like the buyer of NYC’s MoMA’s Store seeking to discover fresh unknown talents from this side of the world.
Puro Diseno Fair could honestly do with a bit of curation, more good quality design and a better communication regarding what’s really important: sustainable design. Unfortunately, every year we see more poorly crafted jewelry and less furniture and objects, reflecting the fair’s orientation towards a business of throwaway objects. It is a shame that as the years goes by, the fair seems to lean closer to an indoors artisans market and further away from good design, because there is a lot of amazing Argentine sustainable design out there.
Photo © Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat