The Smart Home reopens today at the Museum of Science and Industry. I had the pleasure of getting a tour of the house early and was excited by the updates. I would like to thank Anne Rashford, Beth Boston, Steven Beasley, Brian J. Parker and Jeff Buonomo for the time they spent guiding me through the house and answering all of my questions. Here are some of the highlights. Continue reading after the jump...
Images copyright Allison Coffee
First of all, the house has been repainted using a much brighter, livelier color palette using a low-VOC paint called C2 LoVo by Colori. It really shows that living green does not have to mean living bland.
The office has been moved to take advantage of the wide hallway space under the second floor stairs. Among other many smart products it incorporates a Steelcase Think Chair® which is the first ever Cradle-to-Cradle certified product that holds Gold Level Certification. It also is equipped with a Dell Studio Hybrid PC with a Lenovo ThinkVision 2240P LCD Monitor. The PC uses 70 percent less electricity than the average desktop while the monitor requires only 21 watts to operate.
A baby nursery now occupies the former office space which is furnished with the Hiya crib and changing table from Grow Modern Kids and is made from sustainable bamboo and non-toxic mdf. To extend its usefulness, the crib converts to a toddler bed eliminating the need to buy more furniture. Grow Modern Kids also provided the cloth diapers with inserts that are flushable or compostable. The most talked about feature of the baby room was the technically savvy “cribcast” BB-HCM371A Network Camera which allowed watchful parents to check in on their baby from any home control panel in the house.
My favorite part of the child’s bedroom was the toys. There was the LEGO model of the Smart Home (with the requisite giant robot to watch over it) and the Power House which teaches kids about solar, wind, electrochemical and plant energy while they build it.
The garage now has a workstation table designed Floyd Gompf and is constructed from salvaged wood trim, plywood, 2x4s and bamboo. It provides an area for creating green projects using materials from around your home such as a wine rack made from empty cans. Housed in the garage is the Enertia zero-emissions motorcycle by Brammo, Inc. and the zero emission i-Shovel which is the first autonomous robotic snow shovel that automatically detects snow and clears it without creating the usual noise pollution.
I have to mention the incredibly cute and iwavecube microwave in the kitchen. It’s small, portable and the most energy efficient microwave available.
Some of the changes that most stuck with me were the subtle ones that incorporated reusing existing materials and post consumer and manufacturing waste. The master bedroom now has a bed and side table from Sawbridge Studios which is made from recycled hardwoods from various demolition projects. The floor in the master bath is salvaged marble from the Wrigley Building renovation which provides a bit of trivia and nostalgia. In the kitchen, new counter tops were manufactured locally by Rinato and incorporated 100 percent recycled glass including broken red stop lights. In the living room, the coffee table by Brickermade is made from reclaimed metal pallet wracking from the Fulton Market area, glass rods from the former Lounge Ax, and reclaimed wood from salvaged furniture. The dining room chandeliers by Ted Harris are made from Harley Davidson motorcycle parts. The chairs were from a resale shop and upholstered with Brantano environmentally & animal friendly faux leather. Finally, the table was handmade with completely recyclable steel by John Beck Paper & Steel. Only 10 of these tables are being made, and the Smart Home appropriately has #9 to represent “Redesigned in 2009”.
I think the house will be even more impressive once the 900 various bulbs that have been planted bloom and bring more color in the spring. You can see a hint of the color to come in the furniture from Crate and Barrel that incorporates bright Sunbrella cushions. There will also be 80 EarthBoxes which will be planted and later harvested by local elementary students working with Museum staff and Master Gardeners demonstrated by The Growing Connection which is a grassroots project introducing low-cost, sustainable food-growing methods around the world.
In case you were wondering, all of the materials removed from the original design and decoration of the Smart Home have been repurposed throughout the museum or donated wherever possible.
The “Redesigned in 2009” Smart Home is a big success. I think it’s a great way to learn that both the small as well as the big changes we make, will ultimately create a healthier more efficient home to live in. The exhibit runs from March 19, 2009 through January 3, 2010 so there’s plenty of time to go check it out.
Nursery with “cribcast” Network Camera and the Hiya crib from Grow Modern Kids
coffee table by Brickermade
garage workstation table designed Floyd Gompf