Book review: Post-petroleum design

Post-Petroleum Design

by George Elvin
Routledge, May 2015
$39.99 (USD)
ISBN 978-1-138-85390-4 (print)

The author of Post-Petroleum Design was halfway through designing an iPad case when the news broke about the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosions. The oil disaster prompted an epiphany, “How could I put more petroleum-based plastics into this world? … I made up my mind then and there that if I was going to bring a new product into the world, I was going to make it plastic-free.” After developing a wool iPad case, Elvin’s commitment to post-petroleum design escalated. He founded Gone Studio, a design company which pioneers zero-plastic, zero-waste and zero-electricity manufacturing.

Post-Petroleum Design caters to the booming demand for plastic-free products and projects. It brings together case studies of 40 of the world’s leading post-petroleum designers, working across architecture, industrial design, transportation, packaging, electronics, clothing, furnishings and more.

This book is highly readable and is solutions-based. It opens with a historical perspective on oil and plastics, and explains the principles and actions required to move beyond them. It profiles such innovations as bamboo keyboards, buildings and packaging made from mushroom mycelium, electricity-free manufacturing, bridges constructed from 100% recycled plastics and open-source ecology.

“When it comes to architecture, alternatives to plastic abound.” This book will appeal to ReNew readers as it goes into technical details about plastic-free building materials such as algae roofing, bioplastics, insulation made of recycled denim jeans, and hemp. An inspiring resource for design professionals and a soothing read for the plastic-ravaged soul.

Review by Sarah Coles
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