Green Change

cast from the past

Historical forms meet function as engineering works get new lives

By Baila Lazarus

Buying "green" furniture is getting easier and easier given manufacturers' and designers' ability to use recycled wood and reduce or avoid off-gassing materials. But one Vancouver designer has taken the idea one step further.

Ross MacMillan, who owns Industrial Artifacts in Gastown, is making stunning one-of-a-kind designs that not only use recycled materials but come infused with local history as well.

The designs are created from his family's old Progressive Engineering Works on West 1st Avenue near the Cambie Bridge. The company thrived during Vancouver's Industrial Age and went out of business about a decade ago.

It made wooden masters for machine parts for industries all over the Lower Mainland. Wooden pieces were carved in the

GTR Side Board

The GTR Side Board is made from Yellow Pine foundry patterns used to cast steel wheels for marine steam capstans used on Merchant Marine Ships from the 1940s. The top and doors are made from locally sourced reclaimed Douglas fir. Each one is custom made, and price varies depending on the size of the artifact and the details. $2,500 to $5,000.

Inner Curve Winerack

Made from reclaimed Douglas fir and metal off-cuts, these wine racks sell for $450. Available at lA's Gastown Showroom, the BC Wood Co-op on Granville Island and M Store at Park Royal.

Walking Man Screen

The Walking Man Screen, part of MacMillan's Intersection Line, is made from recycled Lexan crosswalk lenses. The frame is made from 100 per cent recycled wood. It sells for $1,600 and is made to order via www. industrialartifacts.com and is also available at the M store in the Village at Park Royal in West Vancouver.

shape of the part then used to make a mould into which the metal was poured, These wooden masters were then stored or discarded. Macmillan grew up around this material, which dates back to the early and mid part of the last century.

When the company closed, Macmillan thought it was a shame to get rid of these pieces that had so much history to them and he started designing furniture. His business is gaining a following due to the sustainable nature of the products and the history that comes with each one.

"These are the building blocks of our mechanical world/' said MacMillan. "It is pretty satisfying to see what I've rescued over the years."

Ebony Hourglass Table

The Ebony Hourglass Table is made from a bisected master gear pattern from Vancouver Gear Works in Richmond. The wood has been recycled from the Flack Block building in Vancouver circa 1899. This (and similar designs) sell for approximately $1,200 to $3,000 depending on the size.

Ebony Hourglass Table

The Ebony Hourglass Table is made from a bisected master gear pattern from Vancouver Gear Works in Richmond. The wood has been recycled from the Flack Block building in Vancouver circa 1899. This (and similar designs) sell for approximately $1,200 to $3,000 depending on the size.

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Some of that rescued material has already been turned into tables, chairs, sideboards and other furniture. Other pieces are waiting for an idea. Buyers are welcome to commission work from any of the hundreds of artifacts MacMillan has saved.

There's no limit to the ideas a piece can generate. Crosswalk lenses are turned into room screens, magazine racks and CD holders; a wooden master for a submarine propellor becomes the support for a glass table; traffic light lenses get new lives as serving bowls; and a master for a gear used to open the Cambie Bridge when it was a moving bridge is reborn as a chandelier.

"If you flip it upside-down, it's easy to come up with a new use for these things," said MacMillan, who seems to have an extraordinary ability to see the wonder in the waste.

Ironically, when his designs first came to market, he didn't emphasize the fact that the material was recycled because it was seen as an inferior product. Now his designs can be found in office boardrooms and high-end residences.

For a look at MacMillan's work, visit www.industrialartifacts.com. ■

Bad Ass Chair

The Bad Ass Chair is made from patterns once used to cast steel belt wheels for logging winches built by Progress Engineering Works in the 1950s. It sells for $2,200 and is available in different finishes, upholstery and details.

Propeller Table

The Propeller Table is a one-of-a-kind piece made from a wooden master pattern used to cast steel propellers for Second World War Corvettes (antisubmarine ships). MacMillan salvaged the Western Red cedar piece from the bottom of a dumpster destined for the landfill. Price: $5,000.

Artist, scientist take different turns to organic illumination

ByFrankO'Brien

While we have all seen the light on saving energy with low-voltage bulbs, finding a truly organic path to home lighting has sent a Vancouver artist and a world-leading scientific team in much different directions.

Ben Burnett combines recycled materials and modern design to bend light fixtures into beacons of sustainability. From his Zillion Design studio in East Vancouver, Burnett merges old steel, reclaimed cedar and rice paper with compact halogens and fluorescent tubes to create savvy lamps with a very small carbon footprint.

Anil Duggal, manager of General Electric's advanced technology program in organic electronics, however, says the future of green lighting begins with throwing out the old and switching to a whole new direction.

From his laboratory at GE's Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York, Duggal is leading research into organic light emitting diodes (OLED), an evolution that promises an entirely different way for people to light their homes.

OLEDs are thin, organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes, which illuminate when an electrical charge is applied.

The resulting sheets of light could be placed anywhere - wrapped around furniture, slapped flat on walls, used on floor tiles or built into cabinets - to provide bright light at super-low energy use. They could create mobile TV screens as big and as thin as a poster.

Duggal's team, for the first time, has figured out how to manu-

Diplomat lamp: A reclaimed cedar and steel shank with varnished rice paper shades and 5,000-hour 75-watt low-energy light bulb is Vancouver designer Ben Burnett's take on green lighting.

facturer OLEDs as long sheets that can be rolled off the line in quantity, making low-cost commercial applications possible.

"Researchers have long dreamed of making OLEDs using a newspaper-printing-like roll-to-roll process" said Duggal. "Now we've shown that it is possible" he said of the breakthrough first announced 10 months ago.

Competitive European research teams have produced OLED light panels that are twice as efficient at today's low-energy light bulbs and will last for 10,000 hours.

The goal of GE is to introduce OLED lighting products to the market by next year, and German-based Siemens AG is reportedly right behind them. B

Photos: Zillion Design home makeover February 2009 53

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Organic light: General Electric believes the green light for the future is organic light emitting diodes, super low-energy sheets of light that can be built into architecture or put anywhere. They could be on the market within

Top photo: General Electric; bottom photo: Zillion Design

Burnett's monolith lamp is more than five feet high and uses reclaimed fir and aluminum with a fluorescent lamp held in place by a rare earth magnet.

54 home makeover February 2009

Top photo: General Electric; bottom photo: Zillion Design

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