We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
I’ve spent the past few weeks collecting thoughts on the Valerie Casey keynote at SXSW, but it got too complicated. So instead, here’s a bunch of stuff I found insightful or inspiring in the process (followed by some thoughts on how to move forward)…
- In Colonizing Sustainability, David Stairs shares some of his thoughts on Designers Accord and others. There are also notable comments by John Thackara and Eric Benson.
The idea of “System Design” makes me think of the discourse around “Design Thinking” in the fact that design is now so broad it can mean basically anything. On a related tangent, Rick Poynor’s thoughts on Bruce Mau struck me on the difference between designers and design thinkers and the why there’s some unease with the latter.
But a lot of the truly influential ideas I find come from non-designers…
• Built to Trash: Is ‘heirloom design’ the cure for consumption?
• ‘The Road From Ruin’: Are We Naive Idiots For Thinking Business Can Be Anything But Greedy?
• Jacqueline Novogratz: Pioneer of “market-based” philanthropy
• Tim Kasser: Professor and Chair of Psychology (focus: materialism)
• Michael Pollan, food guru
• Jeffrey Hollender on The Responsibility Revolution, CSR 2.0, and Blowing Your Lawyer’s Mind
• Live simple: Radical tactics to reduce the clutter, complexity, and costs of your life.
My big question in all my searching was – is sustainable design financially sustainable? I’ve mostly seen projects that *cost* designers money and the few potentially for-profit endeavors involved seductive green consumer products (or as Casey would say, doing “less bad”). Is this movement being promoted by professional organizations as a hobby?
What I would really hope to learn from the leaders in sustainable design is how to create relationships with other industries. How do we work with non-profits, government, and business innovators who are rethinking old standards of success? How can we start collaborating with professionals in policy, science, social research, journalism, etc. instead of naively fumbling around with these ourselves? This kind of facilitation and networking could really enable opportunities for designers and start to reshape the character of our industry. I’d also like to see more real-world examples with success metrics and not just gallery shows. For successful projects, I’d be interested in hearing the specific challenges and solutions from the designers involved. All the designers I’ve seen in this space are very heavy on self-promotion and very sparse on details and actionable takeaways for fellow designers.