Over the next two weeks on the Cooper-Hewitt Design Blog, students from an interdisciplinary graduate-level course on the Triennial taught by the Triennial curatorial team blog their impressions and inspirations of the current exhibition,‘Why Design Now?’.



If there is one design on view at the 2010 Triennial that affects the lives of every American, it is the E/S Orcelle container ship. It is designed as a response to impending changes in the shipping industry, which currently causes 5% of the world’s carbon emissions. The new regulations aim to cut pollution over the course of the next few decades, and encourage the implementation of renewable energy sources. E/S Orcelle suggests new ways to integrate clean energy, such as solar, wind, and wave power that go above and beyond the these proposed regulations.


Currently container ships run on bunker fuel, a low-grade byproduct of the oil refining process. The shipping industry has been aware that change is on the horizon, and at the 2009 Copenhagen talks a bunker fuel tax was planned. Its goal is to cut emissions created by the industry, which accounts for 80% of the world’s trade. So far several alternatives have already been implemented such as retrofitting existing ships with sails, traveling at slower speeds, and scheduling to reduce periods of idling.


The goal of the E/S Orcelle prototype is to create a dialogue about the issue of renewable energy in shipping, and takes a step beyond existing improvised solutions by proposing the next generation of container ships. Its revolutionary design cuts typical cargo ship emissions, equivalent to 50 million automobiles, to zero, also helping to reduce the number of air pollution related deaths in the US by thousands.


E/S Orcelle serves as a model for a future where bunker fuel is no longer necessary, and renewable sources of energy can be harnessed to transport goods around the globe. Now all that remains is making sure the future cars and products that ships like the E/S Orcelle transports are as green as their means of conveyance.


Emily Leibin
School of Visual Arts Design Criticism MFA program

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *