An overview on a post-recycling design era.

leftOVER is a design blog about social innovation, sustainability and open design.
leftOVER is about DIY, but not bricolage.
leftOVER is about reusing, but not recycling.
leftOVER is about DESIGN and not trends.

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I have recently read a billion articles/posts about Samsung vs Apple verdict and the more I read about it and the more I feel like we are going in the wrong direction.

One of the latest ones I have read about, was on Forbes (, where Haydn Shaughnessy has written “Design is fashion, a peculiar form of intellectual property that wavers and transforms by the season” and this made me thought about this TED talk by Johanna Blakley I saw some time ago and I truly agreed on (see embedded video).

I don’t see fashion as a matter of utilitarianism to be honest, but it used to be, in a way, when human kind was busier trying to survive then looking cool. Today it is a matter of style, of money, of art and more, but still, it survives in a non-intellectually-owned-environment (even though in Europe apparels could be protected).

I see technology as going almost in the opposite direction. Today it is still a luxury, we can choose whether to be high-tech or not, we can still easily (perhaps painfully) survive without a smartphone and with no satellite connection and so on, but will we be able to do so in the future? In a future where everything is moving towards virtual realities and digital experiences? We can already easily foresee groceries and general shopping happening only via the Internet, physical money might soon disappear and so on. Will then technology and medias be indispensable? Probably yes, and if today people is not allowed to take and mix (and maybe improve) others’ ideas, tomorrow we’ll certainly have less opportunities to choose between and less competition will bring higher prices and less push on the market to evolve.

I know here we don’t talk only about aesthetic features of products, but also usage and interaction aspects, but maybe tomorrow these same products and interfaces will become so utilitarian that the market and the users will be limited by the patents restrictions and copyrights of today.

Some people think that without ownership there is no incentive to innovate, but the opposite might actually be as true as that.

Everybody has read, heard or just know about the new High Line park in New York. What a wonderful idea for an old railway requalification, but actually that doesn’t sound like anything new.

Two years ago –the last time I’ve spent some time in Paris- I actually had a 2 hours walk in something very similar to the above mentioned park, it was in la Promenade Plantée.

This corridor-park is a green patch long about 4.5 km going from Bastille, through the 12th arrondissement, until the Peripherique highway.

The park lies on the former Vincennes railway line, which was abandoned in 1969, as the new RER line A took its function. La promenade was designed in the 80’ by Landscaper Jacques Vergely and architect Philippe Mathieux and inaugurated in 1993.

The principle is the same as with the High Line park in NY, just with spaces a little more narrow and certainly a worst advertising campaign.

This green line in la Ville Lumiere was the first and only elevated rail-park in the world, until few months ago. Few people know about this park, French citizens included. I personally lived in Paris for some time, but found out about it only years after. What happened to the Promenade Plantée not to deserve this fame? I guess the timing was wrong. It wasn’t yet cool to reuse industrial or abandoned structures for social use in the 80’ and therefore people didn’t pay it much attention. This makes me reflect on the influence of trends on social appreciation and how unfortunate this is. 

I hope one day people will give the right consideration to the parisiennes ligne houte.

Remaking and Re-using - Nova Iskra

Blog post about a new creative hub in Belgrade called Nova Iskra, where Bas van Abel (Creative director at Waag Society) and me have presented our visions on open design and its relationship with digital fabrication.


Awesome project by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2009.

We became nowadays sick about knowing where the things we use and consume come from. We want to be sure that our shoes weren’t fabricated in Vietnam/Thailand/China. We wan to know the name, weight, origins of the meat we digest or we even become vegetarians because of the massive impact of meat on the environment (due to feeding, gas, transportation etc.). We crave for information regarding organic and local farming. 

But where do our LEFTOVERS go to? Do we ever question this? Do we know that many “rejected”electronic goods ends up in developing countries to be dismantled in order to rescue valuable methods (and believe me there is nothing sustainable about these DIY chemical processes). Do we ever consider that all those plastic packagings we diligently collect for recycling, will finally be transported for thousands of kilometers before being actually recycled? And do we ever worry about all the energy that this transportation system wastes? No we mostly don’t, but fortunately some few folks do, like these ones from the MIT.

The new recycling is not consuming.

Fablab: a cradle for co-creation.

This is an article I wrote for an italian architecture blog I sometimes write for. The Fablab reality is coming out in Italy only now (with only 10 years delay), but I hope it’ll soon break through the barrier of traditional (AKA old) design also into the Belpaese.

The article is based on my 3 months work experience in Fablab Amsterdam (Waag Society), the people I met there and the projects I have seen being realized.

Good + Levi's infographic for water waste awareness

Very cool infographic about water waste. We think wasting water is all about how much we drink or use for washing, but that is as superficial as thinking that the impact of the meat industry is just related to cow’s farts.

Here is a detailed wasteful day description, hoping that people will be more responsible by being aware.

Have you spent you childhood trying to make fit THAT piece of lego with K’NEX ending up with breaking them both? Were you very sad because the last piece of your Lincoln Logs wasn’t usable anymore? Well, problem solved: the Free Art and Technology Lab (FAT Lab) and Sy-Lab created what they call the Free Universal Construction Kit. The kit is a set of 300 3D printed “adapter” blocks that allow users to take disparate building toys such as Lincoln Logs, K’NEX, LEGO and Tinkertoys and to put them together to create things. 

I think this is a good example of how 3D printing can enhance our lives and not just be a tool to overproduce useless things. Creating something in between existing products, like a joint or a missing component that is a great potential in general, without considering (in this specific case) the educational aspect lying in not reducing the kids’ creativity at 3 dimensions.

via PSFK:

Petroglyph is a set of chairs made out of wooden leftovers produced by Nucleo Laboratory, a design agency settled in Turin, Italy. What looks interesting to me (and unfortunately very rarely seen) is that the producer of the leftovers is also the user of them. 

It seems like lately there has been a greater attention to leftovers usage (see UP by Droog for instance), but often it is a third party (a designer but also an amateur) to take the initiative, making good use of SOMEBODY ELSE’s leftovers.  Nucleo Laboratory play smarter in this process, by seeing the value of the material they’ve bought and the waste in the leftover they’ve produced.



Starbucks is testing a new store concept that sounds like a radical departure from the latte version you visit here in the United States.

Located in the former vault of a historic bank on Rembrandtplein, the new shop will be a showcase for sustainable interior design and slow coffee brewing, with small-batch reserve coffees and Europe’s first-ever Clover, a high-end machine that brews one cup at a time. But the most radical departure is in the aesthetic: the multilevel space is awash in recycled and local materials; walls are lined with antique Delft tiles, bicycle inner tubes, and wooden gingerbread molds; repurposed Dutch oak was used to make benches, tables, and the undulating ceiling relief consisting of 1,876 pieces of individually sawn blocks. The Dutch-born Liz Muller, Starbucks concept design director, commissioned more than 35 artists and craftsmen to add their quirky touches to the 4,500-square-foot space.

Starbucks Concept Store Is A Lab For Reinventing The Brand

This post is not about any astonishing design or DIY tool, but more about something left behind (almost left over ;-): NON LINEAR NARRATIVES.
The video linked below is Met Before by Chairlift, a beautiful example of non linear narratives applied to video making, the user can make his/her own way through the story. Non linear narratives (as modern definition) were born as books (also known as game books or Choose Your Own Adventure CYOA) popular back in the 70’ but then abandoned  for more exciting videogames or modern toys in the late 90’. Between the most famous were The cave of time and Find your Fate.
Some attempts to save the genre were made with html non linear narratives, as hyperlinks make branching so easy, but they also didn’t last much.
I have honestly never understood what decided the decline of non linear narratives as they were such a smart way of “reusing” a story over and over again but experiencing it always as something new. Probably our own product overconsumption and the planned obsolescence principle in design didn’t make it easy for such a hobby, but still I am surprised that even in the geeks environment it didn’t make it…well hopefully this video and other to come will bring back the old taste for gamebooks..
see he video here: