2015 November Design Magazine

We will need to move towards a circular economy, in which nothing will be lost. Re-use of materials and resources is central to the philosophy of Thomas Rau.

Circular: the end of property?

He compares the earth to a space station, as a closed system: "What is not there, is not there and can not get there as well. And what is there needs to be taken care of, we must ensure that it is not lost."

Thomas Rau is an architect and with his studio he built the first circular office building, from Alliander in Diemen. Together with his ideal of a circular economy he developed a business model, making sustainability not feel like an obligation, but making it interesting and profitable for businesses.

Rau believes that change can only take place when producers are responsible again for the consequences of their actions. He therefore advocates a system in which we do no longer possess products, but only use them as a service. You do not buy light bulbs anymore, but you rent light. You do not buy a refrigerator, but hire a cooled space.

The manufacturer remains responsible at all times for the raw materials. Then they will always provide a product that is as sustainable as possible, simply because they have there own benefit.

Bosch Siemens Home Appliances (BSH), the social housing association Eigen Haard and Thomas Rau found each other in a project. One of the problems they wanted to address, was that social tenants could normally only afford to buy cheap home appliances, that had very high energy consumption, leading to large electricity bills and a short life span of the appliances.

In the project they set three main goals: preservation of materials of the home appliances like fridges, lowering fixed costs for social tenants and reducing CO2 emissions. Rau developed the model of use instead of possession. Subsequently, in cooperation with BSH and Eigen Haard the preconditions were developed for the project and tested in a pilot. The project became a success, the goals were met and the tenants were happy to use the high quality appliances, understanding deeply the circular concept behind the project.

Another project was about light. If you want light, then you will need to buy light bulbs. This will be different from now on. Thomas Rau developed for Philips the concept of 'Light as a Service'. There are no investments, you will get the best products and you have no worries. The lighting remains from Philips, Philips replaces lamps that are broken and Philips is motivated to make products they can recycle themselves. This creates a closed system which is for instance installed at Bruynzeel Storage Systems.



Vibso is a new type of headphones. It uses vibration technology to transmit sound through a membrane plexi, which is the headband of the headset. The sound is transmitted evenly across the membrane, and thus fits all heads.


GravityLight has been developed to provide clean, reliable and safe light, enabling people to break free from the hazards of kerosene lamps. It uses a bag filled with rocks or earth, attached to a cord, which slowly descends similar to the weight drive in a cuckoo clock. This action powers the light for up to 20 minutes.

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Biking should be comfortable, but ride more than a few miles, and people quickly realize that road bicycles are extremely stiff. An adjustable-stiffness suspension stem smooths out your ride. It improves ride quality and comfort by isolating the rider’s body from bumps, shocks, and road buzz.

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Ono e-Bike

Being green and sustainable is rapidly becoming the standard attribute of life. It has always been the very core of the bicycle concept. Add to it a potent and reliable electromotor, and you have the perfect means of sustainable urban personal transport.

Ono Bikes is an independent e-bike and bicycle manufacturer. The bikes are handcrafted, as the company finds particular pleasure in addressing individual needs of customers. Each piece produced is unique.


Camera Restrica

Camera Restricta is a speculative design of a new kind of camera. It locates itself via GPS and searches online for photos that have been geotagged nearby. If the camera decides that too many photos have been taken at your location, it retracts the shutter and blocks the viewfinder. You can't take any more pictures then on that location.

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Ulo is a cute surveillance camera, a pet owl interacting with you through eye expressions. Ulo creates a unique bond.

It redefines the way you interact with objects: an organic communication. Evidence shows that a number of facial expressions are related to similar emotions across cultures. The language of our eyes is one of the most powerful and effective tools of non-verbal communication. Ulo communicates through eye expressions. A webpage and mobile apps allows you to customize eyes color, shape and size to match your interior and your taste. No logos or icons are displayed on the screens, but you instantly know what Ulo has in mind.

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Good Night Biological LED Lamp

Using tablets or smartphones prior to bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep. That's because they, along with the CFLs and LEDs, put out a lot of blue light. The sun also puts out a lot of blue light. When it hits receptors in our eyes, this blue light essentially games us into thinking it's still daytime.

If we can create the illumination we need to read at night, but filter out the blue light, we can still get sleepy, as we should at a late hour.

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The compact Stack printer by industrial designer Mugi Yamamoto is simply placed on top of a pile of A4 paper, rather than loading paper into the device in batches. The sheets are fed through rollers underneath the machine and exit on the top.

The Doddle Pop

The nipple of this pacifier retracts into a safe sleeve when falling towards the floor, so that it never makes contact with the ground. The mother can just pick it up, flip the pacifier out and pop it back. Made out of medical grade silicon, the Doddle Pop is a single piece design that’s safe, easy to maintain, small and convenient.

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