It's all well and good being eco-friendly but who wants to sacrifice great design for the inestimable virtues of going green?
A number of international designers are taking a traditionally green material - bamboo - and doing cutting-edge things with it. In essence, gone are the days of seeing some roughly hewn bamboo poles being strung together to work as a bookcase, lending a shabby-chic, Asian feel to a room. In the new generation offerings of the supple-yet-substantial material, bamboo is being used in decidedly futuristic ways.
Take the works of French designer Ludovic Renson (ludovicrenson.fr), for example, whose Galets series of tables and stools (far right) is as modern as it comes; the avant-garde pieces are chrome-painted in white, their surfaces lined with bamboo. Renson says the series is a prototype awaiting production.
Elsewhere, designer Chris Gurney has created the Tatami Bench Sofa and Flight Chair for the Ecodecor line (brandarchitecture.jp) in Japan. Both pieces have frames made from light or dark bamboo; seating bases fashioned from tatami and backing created from kimono fabric. But the shape of the sofa and chair is decidedly minimalist in a Zen-European way.
Spanish line Damaris & Marc (damarisymarc.com) has the Eigg, a bamboo flatpack bookshelf inspired by traditional Japanese wooden houses.
From the Netherlands comes Dave Keune's (davekeune.com) fabulous Plint hanging lamp (above). Made from polished planks of bamboo, the shade is expandable and able to open and close like a stylish umbrella, which allows it to act as a dimmer. Keune says he accepts international orders and ships this and his other products worldwide.
For fans of the whimsical, there is the Chuun chair from Spanish industrial designer Christian Vivanco (christianvivanco.com). The word chuun means 'branch' in Mayan - and this laminated bamboo chair has a sparsely styled branch protruding from one side, to act as a hat rack or coat holder.
Thai Korakot Aromdee (korakot.net) is another designer who does magical things with bamboo. Bangkok-based Korakot uses Seesuk bamboo that is at least three years old and especially flexible. He incorporates kite-making techniques to fashion sculptures that are intricate and fluid. He retails his line through Establishment in New York (for details, e-mail email@example.com).