NY Design Week has officially kicked off so this past Friday I got into the groove by stopping in at "New York’s premier exhibition of designers of contemporary furnishings and home accessories made and/or designed in Brooklyn," BKLYN Designs 2010. This year’s show, the eighth annual, was more scaled-back/super-edited compared to years past but offered more than enough sustainable homegrown designs to keep me intrigued. 

Over the coming days, I’ll be highlighting a handful of notable 2010 BKLYN Designs exhibitors and I suppose it’s only natural that I start by sharing the latest, gleefully conspicuous work from designer Hugh Hayden. Last year, Hayden wowed the crowd — but not necessarily me — with FUNature, a line of furnishings made from reclaimed tennis and plastic “play pit” balls. I was much more fond of Hayden's outcrop this year, a collaboration with Katie Vitale called FRAMEicariums. 

FRAMEicariums (a riff on the scientific term, "formicarium") are salvaged picture frames transformed into totally functional ant farms with the help of sand and plexiglass viewing boxes. Yep,  real live ant farms set inside of repurposed picture frames of all shapes and sizes found around NYC.

Here's how Hayden and Vitale describe their curious colony creations:

FRAMEicariums are the ant-farms of your childhood reimagined into a living work of art that showcases the geological excavations of the the tunnels formed by ants. Unlike a conventional ant farm, this community is displayed as a designed centerpiece on a wall or desktop. The FRAMEicarium is constantly changing and active. It demonstrates the elegant performance of everyday tasks and behaviors of an ant community. 
Okay, I'm not really into ants (I don't think I'd be able to sleep with an enclosed ant colony in my home) but I find FRAMEicariums to be both visually striking and a brilliant way to give new life to old picture frames. FRAMEicariums could also make for a nifty DIY project if you're so inclined. And, of course, aside from being great conversation starters, they'd give you a chance to ask your significant other: "Honey, can you straighten out the ant colony hanging above the fireplace? It's looking a bit crooked."

It should be pointed out that FRAMEicariums are easy to disassemble/clean and feature a hole for feeding purposes. But there's one element not addressed by Hayden and Vitale that I'd be particularly interested in: a built-in security system. 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

A true eco-art colony
Hugh Hayden and Katie Vitale inspire eco-creativity -- and itching -- with FRAMEicariums, decorative ant farms that make use of salvaged picture frames.