Sustainable Design is...

What is Sustainable Design? That's a good question. The answer: it depends.

You may not want to hear that but it's true. Sustainable design is different for each discipline of design, whether it's product design, architecture, graphic design, landscape design, fashion, and so on. As of now, most people have a facile analysis of sustainable design; ignoring the true complexities of the issues.

A quick google search says "Sustainable design (also called environmental design, environmentally sustainable design, environmentally conscious design, etc.) is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability" (Wikipedia).

While this definition touches on what sustainable design is, it's more complex than that. It's about looking at the interconnected, interdependent systems that we and all the stuff we create is a part of. It's more than just doing less environmental harm, but rather doing more good. Doing more good with less. It's about designing better social systems while restoring the environment. It's about seeing ourselves as a part of nature, not apart from nature. We humans are nature too. That may be a "duh" for many of you, but much of our history as humans would say otherwise. We have been a part of a "take, break, and make" system that is fully designed.

In this talk, we'll discuss the different facets of sustainable and what it means for different disciplines. Humans are creators and builders, so how might we do that more thoughtfully, and without waste? We will discuss how we might shift our way of thinking about how we design. We will discuss how sustainable design is a philosophy with a set of frameworks and tools everyone can start employing today.

We will discuss some of these sustainability-centered frameworks, tools that can be used depending what area of design you're engaged with, and resources you can start digging into. For example, The Living Principles, Cradle-to-cradle, Life-cycle analysis, Biomimicry, Circular Economy, and other impact assessments. We'll also point you toward some big players who have been working in sustainable design, tackling wicked problems, and helping to shape the field, such as iDE (International Development Enterprises), The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and Project H Design. We will draw (in real-time) during this lecture.

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