THE HUMBLE cubby house may never be the same now Lismore designer Valerie Thompson has created the "eco-pod".
At first glance it looks like just another, tasteful, well-built cubby, but closer inspection reveals its double act as a miniature study in sustainable living.
It boasts all the design trappings a planet-loving kid would naturally expect - water tank and guttering, passive solar, a kitchen garden and a solar light.
And the cute little dwelling is built out of materials mostly scavenged from timber yard offcuts and the veranda supports were from a storm-felled tree.
This prototype, on show this week at Lismore TAFE's annual art and design exhibition, is one of six designs by Ms Thompson.
"Children have fun and they have a good experience of playing with natural materials. So when they grow up they won't want anything less," she said.
"It doesn't cost more to design something like this and you want to play in it.
"Each piece of timber has its own character; there's a story for every piece."
A natural product of the creative ecology of the Rainbow Region, Ms Thompson's work is one of several takes on the theme of living within our means and dealing with a changing climate.
There's also some stylish textile, fashion and graphic design work in the mix.
Alongside the elegant creations of the first crop of designers is the open-ended painting and sculpture of the artists. The exhibition is aptly called Resilience.
After having funding to its fine arts course slashed last year, it's been a comeback year for Lismore TAFE, which in record time pulled together the fully-funded design course and made it a success.
There's excitement about the future of the design course, with a diploma qualification planned next year.
The TAFE has also managed to keep a healthy number of art students, despite them now having to take out a $10,000 VET loan.
Fine art teacher Steven Giese said earlier in the year there were question marks about the future.
"It's an enormous relief to see this work here and the place having a real pulse," he said.
The exhibition at Lismore TAFE closes today.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.