Taking full advantage of summer’s long days is no sweat when the right modern design products are on hand—and when any design piece comes with eco credentials, too, well, hello, sunshine! We’ve rounded up 8 of our favorite summer design products, ranging from big-ticket items to ones that are, in the grand scheme of things, small change—each distinct for being easy on the eye and going easy on the earth’s resources.
MAMAGREEN modern outdoor furniture offers the complete eco experience, thanks to exceedingly handsome and sustainably sourced seating and tables that make for a luxurious outdoor statement. The company’s exclusive use of reclaimed and responsibly sourced teak, 100% recyclable and repurposed aluminum, and 70% recycled steel scrap consistently yields an elegant range of outdoor sofas, sun loungers, tables, and modern chairs that are sure to turn any design buff, yes, green with envy.
One of the more ingenious and charming design solutions of the last few years is Little Sun, a solar powered light co-designed by Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson. Designated one of 2013’s Designs of the Year by the London Design Museum, Eliasson’s aim was to find an affordable lighting solution for communities that reside outside the electrical grid. Little Sun, portable and wearable, gathers and stores solar power during the day, and then converts it into nighttime illumination that can last up to 50 hours. Though a compact and irresistibly sunny portable light for outdoor gatherings, it comes with an added incentive for those of us who want, rather than need, Little Sun: proceeds from sales go towards making the device affordable to those for whom a night light is a dire necessity.
For those given to perpetual hydration, but averse to making those distressing floating islands of plastics any greater, a reusable water bottle is a must—and our choice is S’well. This simple stainless steel bottle fits the bill not only for its chilling effect on beverages (it keeps them cold for 24 hrs), but for the fact that it doubles as coffee thermos (liquids stay hot for 12 hours). Founder Sarah Kauss wanted to combat plastic waste with a handsome bottle, and accomplished her mission with a bottle design that comes in 3 sizes and a range of glorious colors and finishes (summer turquoise, anyone?). A partnership with UNICEF, among other charitable organizations, funnels profits towards helping to bring clean drinking water to underserved communities. That makes S’well a serious liquid asset in our book.
The name is a little unwieldy, but the Fatboy Transloetje table lamp is as simple and reductive as they come, transparent and compact, portable and energy-saving all at once. This LED powered, modern table lamp easily segues from inside the house to deck or patio, guaranteeing 6-20 hours of wireless illumination (depending on the setting), thanks to a built-in USB port for pre-party charging. A touch-sensitive switch and a choice of 3 settings helps control light intensity, and 8 pretty colors guarantees at least one hue that fits into most any interior or exterior scheme dazzlingly.
Along with the plastic bottle conundrum resides the discarded flip-flop conundrum—meaning that the cheap (and cheaply made) summer rubber sandal is just as apt to end up in a floating plastic heap as is a soda bottle. This color-happy Flip-Flop Door Mat, however, makes use of all those random rubber bits by weaving recycled footwear strips into a summer-ready outdoor mat of happy colors, and packs a tad more pizzaz than a standard coir doormat.
Modernism is absolutely for the birds, thanks to the Arbor Birdhouse by Loll Designs, a Minnesota-based company that makes modern outdoor furniture and accessories from recycled skateboard ramps and milk jugs (aka high-density polyethylene). 100% recycled (and recyclable) materials have gone into making the clean and simple Arbor, which requires no assembly and can be mounted and cleaned out within minutes. A flat roof in a range of bright colors, and a front panel of locally harvested, maintenance-free wood give the Arbor Birdhouse undeniable Mid Century style—ensuring a space tailor-made for year-round bird parties.
Who wouldn’t want a lantern singing to them? The Pablo UMA Sound Lantern combines beauty, portability, nuanced LED illumination, and, 360° high fidelity surround sound in one handsome profile. Touch sensitive volume control and Bluetooth connectivity allows UMA to stream superior sound from any mobile device, and its elegant good looks—we really like the handsome leather strap that begs to be grabbed and whisked off—means UMA moves seamlessly from room to room, indoors to outdoors, bringing light as well as state-of-the-art sound with it. That’s lights-out in our book.
A sturdy, handsome duffle bag is a summer staple, and if it’s made locally from recycled materials, all the better. And it doesn’t get much better than Sea Bags, a Maine-based company that specializes in bags of all sizes, fashioned from discarded boat sails. With its striking burst of red, the Vintage Laser Sail Duffel is our personal favorite, though any of the company’s serendipitously graphic iconography will do nicely. Hemp rope handles that wrap around the bottom, industrial zipper, and detachable shoulder strap make this weekender versatile and durable—and ready for hauling your sundries around through a boatload of summers.