inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #0 of 83: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Mon 14 Apr 08 10:08
    
We're very pleased to welcome Ann Thorpe to Inkwell.

Ann Thorpe is the author of The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
(Island Press, 2007). At university, Thorpe studied product design, and
later, energy and resources. She has worked on issues of
sustainability and design in varied settings, such as a large, private
company, a non-profit organization, local government, and UK art and
design colleges.  She also helped found the first regional chapter
(Cascadia) of the US Green Building Council. Thorpe is a lecturer at
the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. She is
currently researching the topic of design activism.


Leading the conversation with Ann is our own J. Eric Townsend.
 
J. Eric "jet" Townsend is an unintentional comprehensivist.  During
his career he has developed software for massively parallel
supercomputers, participated in the "garage virtual reality" community,
made art for Burning Man, and held positions ranging from Online
Communications Manager to sysadmin to security engineer at a variety of
consumer electronics companies.  He currently burns the candle at both
ends, working at a consumer electronics company as a security engineer
while studying Design at Carnegie Mellon University. jet's design
interests include sustainability, local fabrication/recycling, and
involving non-designers in the design process through the use of
computation.

 
Welcome, Ann and Jet!
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #1 of 83: I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Mon 14 Apr 08 13:45
    
Hey everyone, thanks for joining us in this discussion!  I'm going to
assume that some of us have read "The Designer's Atlas of
Sustainability" while others have never heard of it until now.  If
some of my questions seem rather obvious, they're probably questions
for the people who haven't read the book yet.

Now, on with the show....



Ann, I was initially quite curious about how one could discuss design
and sustainability using the structure of an atlas.  After I started
reading your book, however, it made quite a bit of sense and I'm
intrigued by this approach to discourse.

Could you tell us a little bit about your personal background and how
that led to your writing an "atlas" instead of, say, an "encyclopedia"
or "dictionary"?  What was it like trying to convince others that this
was a good format, or did anyone even require convincing?
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #2 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Tue 15 Apr 08 14:35
    <scribbled>
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #3 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Tue 15 Apr 08 14:59
    
Oops -- I'm not used to these controls -- I think I may have just
"scribbled" out my response...

try again

Thanks Jet. Yes, the atlas concept did give me some trouble... 
But I've always loved atlases and maps -- I remember getting my first,
oversized Times Atlas of the World when I was in high school--and I
loved geology and earth sciences in college when I was also studying
design. We also traveled around a lot when I was growing up, and I
have family overseas,  so looking at maps was a way of making sense of
where I was and where I wanted to go. 

I guess I like the way a single map can show the intersection of
several different planes of information, in the same way that design
ultimately has to meld together different planes of information into
one artefact, such as a  product or building. I've used maps in
projects before; I did a website that was a "map" of recycled content
buildings and linked to map service so that you could do a real tour of
the building in addition to the "virtual" tour (that site's not up
anymore).

As far as the book goes, though, an atlas wasn't the first idea. I
first had the title, "sustainability as a language for desgin" with
the
idea that designers speak a lot of different "languages" (eg
technical, artistic, financial) and now they need to add a new one.
One of the publishers that I approached told me that it needed a new
title.

Soon after I was looking through some source material and came across
"The Gaia Atlas of Green Economics" and I realized the atlas concept
might solve my problem. An Atlas sounds useful and, more than an
encyclopedia, visual. 

The first people to read the manuscript with the atlas format gave it
mixed reviews though, and their feedback helped guide its development.
One reviewer suggested the metaphor of food-- that I was offering
ingredients that could be used to make different "sustainability"
meals; this is what prompted me to call the "how to" books recipe
books. 

All that feedback caused me to add the introductory part-- "why an
atlas?" to set the readers' expectation more clearly.  I also tried to
carry the metaphor through with the "summary maps" and "landscape
features" -- both ideas that resulted from the reviewers frustrations!

Now that the book is out I kind of regret not calling it something
more like "Sustainable Design: An Atlas," which would have been much
more search engine friendly. Why didn't anyone suggest this to me??
Coincidentally, my friend Kate Fletcher, who recently wrote
"Sustainable Fashion & Textiles: Design Journeys" also used traveling
and landscape metaphors--but we did this entirely independently of
each
other.
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #4 of 83: I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Tue 15 Apr 08 16:30
    
Something else that I was surprised and then happy to see included was
the section on economy.  It seems to me that the majority of the
design books I've read (other than the likes of Papanek) have been
focused mostly on capital-d Design and rarely cover the larger context
of the economy unless it relates to pricing.

I wonder how many design students -- or professional designers, for
that matter -- could pass a pop quiz based on the content of the
section on economics?  I think the only reason I could pass such a quiz
is my life experience working at startups and investing in the stock
market.

Could you talk a little about the relationships between design and
economics?  Do you think enough designers understand the ramifications
of their design outside of simple profit/loss?  Should design schools
include a business ethics class or an economics class in their
coursework?
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #5 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Wed 16 Apr 08 03:16
    
It’s funny you should mention a pop quiz on the economy because I have
developed just such a quiz for the teaching guide that goes with the
book (the guide is free to download at
www.designers-atlas.net/teachguide.html, the quiz starts on page 42). I
use the quiz to start discussions about the economy with some
provocative facts and show its relevance to sustainability (through the
issues of fairness and “good causes”). These provocative facts also
then lead to the idea that we must view the economy critically.

I think you’re right that design students and professional designers
shy away from economics and I don’t think that most of them understand
that they have the ability to “use” the economy, rather than just
letting the economy use them. 

From a sustainability perspective, using the economy is critical. In
that regard I think designers who want to work on sustainability won’t
be truly effective until they have basic economic literacy (that’s what
I’m hoping to impart in the book). 

The biggest problem I find is that designers only “see” the private
sector, what we might call the market place, or commerce. They don’t
see or understand the public or nonprofit sectors of the economy. This
is a problem because, as I try to point out, most of the central
concerns of sustainability (for example cultural heritage, ecological
integrity, or democratic freedoms) are not adequately captured in the
market place. If you want to work on design that addresses these
concerns in their fullest form, then typically you have to look outside
the marketplace. 

But it’s easy to understand why most designers only “see” the private
sector. Designers typically view themselves, and others view them, as
commercial actors. Designers are trained to respond to clients, to
consumers, and to add value to businesses. Governments have
historically developed policies that position design as a tool of
economic growth (the UK’s Design Council, here in London, is a good
example of that). Professional design associations largely concern
themselves with business practices and responsibilities to clients. 

In all those ways design is placed as a key cog in the wheel of
commerce, so it is no wonder that most designers have trouble
conceiving of their work in any other form than commerce. They simply
would never think of structuring their design studio as a nonprofit
organization instead of a business. But then wonder when they have
trouble getting clients to pay for things that so obviously fall
outside the marketplace. Those are the things that they might be able
to get grants, individual members, or public sponsors to pay for, but
not a commercial client.

Government, academic and professional design association views of
design are gradually starting to broaden, especially with recent
pressures from the climate stabilization agenda (which is GREAT), but
the commerce mindset and model of practice still dominate, which I see
as problematic.

Now about design schools and economic or business ethics classes –
more on that later…
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #6 of 83: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 16 Apr 08 08:44
    

(NOTE: Offsite readers with questions or comments may have them added to
this thread by emailing them to <inkwell@well.com> -- please be sure to
put "Ann Thorpe" in the subject line. Thanks!)
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #7 of 83: I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Wed 16 Apr 08 15:21
    
(Also note that Ann is in the UK, about 5 hours ahead of me and 8
hours ahead of the west coast.)
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #8 of 83: What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Thu 17 Apr 08 18:13
    
Ann, the book is *just* *beautiful*. It covers so much ground, in such
interesting ways, I'm trying to figure out whether I could make it work as a
textbook in a philosophy and technology course, or in a general class for
first-year students.

Was it daunting to take this on?

How did you work to insure that the book not only discussed, but also
exemplified good design?
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #9 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Fri 18 Apr 08 12:54
    
Thanks. And no, it wasn’t daunting to take it on because in the
beginning, I didn’t realize exactly what I was taking on…I started out
doing bits and pieces, mostly for my students. There is a lot of
material available on sustainable development, but little of it was
suited to designers, so I started out just trying to “convert” existing
material.

The process then took on a life of its own. I ended up not only
converting, but also synthesizing, re-evaluating, analyzing and
developing a lot of new material. Somewhere along the way I realized
that other people might find it relevant. But all along I knew that the
book had to be visual if it were to capture the attention of
designers.

As to ensuring how the book looked….well that’s a long story. But the
short of it is that I didn’t have too much involvement in the book’s
design, aside from insisting that the book be very visual and
delivering the diagrams and 200 odd images to the publisher. Island
Press has done few illustrated books like mine so they really cut their
teeth on this one. 

And as anyone who looks at the book’s website knows, I was
disappointed with the cover (I’ve posted the “author’s cuts” for the
cover at www.designers-atlas.net). I think the cover resulted from a
standard process that works fine when there is no “look and feel” to
the inside of the book, but the process didn’t work so well for a book
with a distinctive internal layout. 

On the good side, the book got published -- and it doesn’t look that
bad!
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #10 of 83: I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Fri 18 Apr 08 14:03
    
Have you thought about how you're going to integrate this book back
into the classroom?  Are you working on something like a "teacher's
guide" to go along with it?
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #11 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Sat 19 Apr 08 08:58
    
OK, here’s a long answer for you…

Yes --- a few of the questions have brought up the issue of education
and teaching, and I think this is one important use for the book. I
elaborate on that below.  I think there are several other groups who
will also find the book useful:
-       designers, whether recent graduates or seasoned professionals, who
are new to the concepts of sustainability and want to get the big
picture in one place. 
-       designers who are already conscious of ecological or “green” design,
but who want to build a broader understanding of sustainability and
design, including how ecological design is ultimately tied to economic
and cultural issues.
-       Professionals who work with or manage design processes who want to
get the basics in one place

Sustainability is a broad subject and one could spend a great deal of
time reading many books and articles on issues such as “time,” 
“consumerism,” “humanist economics,” and “panarchy in ecology.” I’ve
tried to take the important elements from that broad range of ideas and
interpret it through the issues of design, so that readers can get the
big picture more quickly and then follow up as needed in areas of
particular interest to them.

I’m  heartened when friends and colleagues of mine who have followed
sustainable design for a number of years have said to me that they
found new ways of thinking in my book, a common refrain was, “I never
thought about it that way before.” So my sense is that the book does
meet the challenge of appealing to both neophyte and seasoned
sustainable designers.

But back to students and teachers of design—they are also an important
audience. In a sense they are the book’s genesis. I use the book in
teaching – as I had used drafts of it in teaching, and the book has a
teaching guide (as I mentioned, free to download at
www.designers-atlas.net/teachguide.html) which is pretty substantial.
It’s about 70 pages long, contains 13 design briefs, about 12 in-class
exercises, and a range of ideas for events (trips, films, guests
speakers) and writing assignments. 

The content in the teaching guide is adaptable to a range of design
disciplines such as architecture, industrial design, fashion design or
interiors. The guide also offers some background and reflection on
teaching sustainable design. I update the guide about every 8 or 9
months and I use the material in my own teaching (currently at the
Bartlett School of Architecture) which is partly how new material for
the guide emerges.

I’ve structured the guide so that it will be easy to add new elements
and I hope that over time people who are using the book or guide will
add to it. I also have a sense, as “Bumbaugh” (sorry I don’t know your
“name” name) suggests, that the exercises and some of the events could
be useful in other settings. For example the exercise that asks
participants to estimate the number of items (eg sunglasses or
umbrellas) that exist in the world and how often they “turn over” could
be used in professional settings as well as student settings; it could
be used in philosophy of technology or in design settings…

In an earlier comment Jet asked if we should be teaching design
students economics or some sort of business ethics class. I have a
section in the teaching guide on the challenge of economics and I think
there are many different ways to address it, depending on the type of
educational institution. 

Part of the problem may be that members in the faculty of design may
not, themselves, feel comfortable trying to teach it. But do they have
other options from within a large university that offers degrees in
economics? Or are they at a small, specialized design school where
there are no alternatives other than tackling it themselves? My
teaching guide has 4 design briefs and 3 in-class exercises that
address economics, so those may be a starting point.

I think it is also worth challenging the institutions where we teach.
Those institutions need to acknowledge that the tools students need for
sustainable design include an understanding of the economy and even
some training in how to approach design in the nonprofit or public
sectors. Instead of simply concentrating on final year resume and
portfolio for private sector jobs, let’s talk to students who want to
pursue sustainable design about the practical realities related to
working in the private, nonprofit and public sectors. I’m trying to
address this with the Q&A section of my blog on design activism
(http://designactivism.net).

I got my own first understanding of the “three sector” economy (eg
public, private and nonprofit) in graduate school when I took a class
at UC Berkeley’s business school on the theory of the nonprofit. In
retrospect it was one of the things that has gradually made me
conscious of thinking about how to use the economy for sustainable
ends.
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #12 of 83: I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Sat 19 Apr 08 09:07
    
I'm only familiar with the design curriculum at one university, and
there's nothing in it about contemporary business practices.  Students
can choose an elective in their later years, I wonder how many
consider business?  I know I wish I'd taken something like "Intro to
Business" when I was getting my first degree.

We've been talking about education a bit, but I don't want people to
get the idea your book is primarily a textbook aimed at undergrads.
It'll go on my shelf next to things like "Why Things Don't Work" and
"ecoDesign".  How are people in practice responding to your book?  


(And my bad: I thought you'd only mentioned the teachers guide in
 email to me, forgot that you'd also posted a link here.)
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #13 of 83: I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Sat 19 Apr 08 09:23
    
If you're considering buying Ann's book, check out her website for an
excellent preview:

<http://www.designers-atlas.net>
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #14 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Sun 20 Apr 08 03:32
    
Practitioners seem to be receiving it pretty well, gauging by
individual responses I’ve gotten and from talks I’ve given. I also use
the trade press reviews as a gage and it’s done OK by them, but it
hasn’t been covered in what I consider to be some of the central review
vehicles (partly because staff turnover at Island Press meant that
some didn’t get review copies). But the online trade press has
generated a lot of interest that I detect from “bounces” in the numbers
to the book’s website.

It is true that the response to the issue, across the board (academic
to professional), varies from region to region. For example, I was
really surprised by a recent book tour in the Pacific Northwest where
more than 100 professionals turned up in downtown Seattle to hear my
book talk—and many of them bought the book as well. 

That was followed by even larger audiences at the University of
Washington (Seattle) and at Emily Carr Institute of Design in
Vancouver, both boosted by local chapters of the regional industrial
design associations. Back here in London, despite an equivalent level
of publicity, there were about 30 people at the book launch.

And I think that points to the fact that the northwest is a hotbed,
but England is not. The Netherlands and some parts of Germany are also
hotbeds, as are other places in the US, but there are also plenty of
relatively “dead” zones—hopefully fewer and fewer of them…

Part of the challenge for practitioners, of course, is time. They are
understandably interested in focused, “how to” texts that will help
them on today’s job. They find it difficult to invest the time now to
get a bigger picture that will direct their work over the next 5, 10 or
20 years. As you know, that’s a fundamental challenge to
sustainability that I write about in the book, the tyranny of “short
termism”! 

I think this is a shame because practicing design are actually better
positioned than students and recent graduates to start making
fundamental and substantive shifts, however small at the start, that
gradually ripple out across the industry. I really applaud The
Designer’s Accord (www.designersaccord.org), which I’ve written about
on my blog, and other efforts to open up the space and time for
practicing designers to take in the big picture.
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #15 of 83: J. Eric Townsend (jet) Sun 20 Apr 08 19:37
    <scribbled by jet Mon 21 Apr 08 02:04>
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #16 of 83: Cupido, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Sun 20 Apr 08 19:48
    
Ann, the Designer's Accord looks good. 

Do you see the possibility of coordination of strategies based, in
part, on assessments of current practices and how amenable they are to
change?
OTOH, perhaps diversity of strategies might be better than close
coordination.
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #17 of 83: I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Mon 21 Apr 08 02:08
    
[edited to fix a couple of typos]

That's really surprising, the US vs England turnouts.  One of my
design professors got her phd in design history in England because
that's where you go -- design is just too young in the US to have
established design history programs.
 
Do you think American designers are more concerned about
sustainability on a personal level, or do you think that it's just a
matter of following the money?  "Green" is becoming an important
marketing concept in the US -- do you think designers are just looking
at sustainability as a fad or do you think they are internalizing it
and making it part of the design process?
 
To be honest, when I arrived at school I was stunned at the lack of
recycling.  Huge amounts of foamcore and chipboard go straight into
the trash bins mixed in with everything from lunch leftovers to
plastic bottles.  There are recycling containers in every studio, but
they're often used as general purpose trash cans.  I don't remember
professors talking about recycling on a regular basis, much less how
to cut/use raw materials to waste as little as possible.  (Example: I
watched a guy cut a 3" circle of foamcore out of the *exact middle* of
a 1' square section.)  Like any design school, we're they're to learn
form and color -- not production processes or materials selection --
and we seem to develop very bad habits as a result.
 
I wonder how much of an individual's interest in sustainable design
develops after someone graduates, gets a job, and discovers how much
things cost in the real world.  When you're on "meal plan", you don't
think about buying in bulk or getting your deposit back on a bottle,
you just take what they give you and go with it.  Maybe once you're
faced with buying 6 bottles of orange juice at $1.75 each or the same
amount in a single bottle for $4 this sort of thinking starts to
happen?
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #18 of 83: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Mon 21 Apr 08 12:59
    
I also wonder if there's too much focus on pure aesthetics in a lot of
design programs, at the expense of (for lack of a better
term)practical economics.  

By that I mean things like "how do you get the maximum use out of a
sheet of paper" (size brochures so they fit neatly, or gang with
another project for example) or "how do you maximize battery life in a
mobile device" (make sure to use simpler algorithms so they minimize
CPU use, or dim the backlight when possible).

It seems like if there was more emphasis on those kinds of
cost-of-business issues, the sustainability aspect might take care of
itself in some ways.  
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #19 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Mon 21 Apr 08 13:02
    
Jet and David, I guess it fluctuates – it seems as though students
used to be more idealistic, and then would become jaded as they got out
into the world and saw how things really work. But after the 80s and
90s, we seem to have many students who, as one of my colleague says,
“have no politics.” In fact some of them come in already cynical about
sustainability and a “do good” agenda. Maybe these are the students who
will, having had the seed of sustainability planted at school, see it
germinate after they are out in the work-a-day world for a few years…

Even with practial economics, a lot of sustainability issues will fall
through the cracks, so I don't think that resolve it, but would
certainly go some way toward improving it.

and re aesthetics and "high design" I think that England, and London
in particular, are on the leading edge of "high design" with schools
like the Royal College of Art, the Bartlett School of Architecture or
the Architectural Association that turn out brand name graduates like
Zaha Hadid, Tord Boontje, or Ross Lovegrove. But that brand, as my
colleague Julian Lindley recently put it, never included sustainability
–neither social nor environmental. One of my students at the Bartlett
recently said to me regarding sustainability in architectural design,
“it is so readily dismissed by much of the Bartlett design staff that
it is difficult to get it across as a design generator. The general
consensus of opinion seems to be that it does nothing but inhibit
design.” 

It seems that these “brands” have not yet figured out how to respond
to the sustainability issue. The brand is worth a lot and if they back
track and say sustainability is important, yet it is clear they have
not been leaders in it, will that devalue or damage their brand?
Perhaps they’ll put their heads in the sand (that seems to be the
approach so far) or claim that they “do” sustainability already since
sustainable design is good design. 
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #20 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Mon 21 Apr 08 13:06
    
Robert, I am all in favor of coordination and getting on with the “low
hanging fruit” (eg practices that are amenable to change). But in
reality I think we need a whole range of strategies adapted to local
and regional contexts. Some strategies will “scale up” well, but others
might not. 

I was talking with a group of designers today about the idea of
“social innovation” where innovation is based primarily on innovating
relationships and is driven largely by organizations that have a social
purpose (rather than a business purpose). We talked about the fact
that many social innovations may not scale up, they might suit the 1000
people in this town, but not others in a different town. Just like the
Well as an online community – its suits some people but not others.
You can’t really “scale it”. but in today’s world it seems like there
is a lot of pressure to “scale up,” to have the top brand or the
"category killer."

But today we were also talking about the tension between radical
change and incremental change. One designer said you don’t want to
institute radical change across a whole system because if it doesn’t
work, you’ll have a big mess. 

But it strikes me that we need radical change so maybe the way to do
it is to try lots of radical change at small scales (eg a neighborhood
or a town). I do think people need stability in some parts of their
lives to anchor them while they try radical change, but stories of
social innovation do suggest that trying things out on smaller scales
is the way to go, and that these solutions may end up being bespoke (we
use that world a lot of here in the UK which simply means “tailor
made”). 

Or there may be elements that can be transferred and scaled up, but
that have to also be adapted to specific contexts. Eg there might be an
English version of car sharing, an American one and a Dutch one…in
each case the design of the infrastructure and the cars themselves may
differ  to suit the circumstances, and that is probably a good thing. 
I think a McCar-share would defeat the purpose, if you see what I mean.
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #21 of 83: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Mon 21 Apr 08 13:28
    
I'm struck suddenly that perhaps one or two designers could be
convinced to adopt a radically sustainable aesthetic -- cradle to
cradle for example.  Even if just a few did, it seems like just as a
specific color trickles down through the fashion world from
pret-a-porter shows to wal-mart, maybe that kind of radically
sustainable aesthetic would as well.  
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #22 of 83: I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Mon 21 Apr 08 13:49
    
Ann, while it's not directly related to your book, I'd love to get
your take on recent statements and actions by Phillipe Starck.  From
his recent presentation at TED (<a
href="http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/197";>Why Design?</a>
where he described his job as "useless"; to his effective resignation
as a commercial designer and his dismissal of his own work as
"unnecessary and materialistic", what do you think is going on and
where does he go next?  Did he wake up one day and do the math on the
amount of resources he's helped burn in the name of simply selling
products?  Did he, as someone suggested on the well, "go off his
meds", or do you think this is a logical progression from some inner
discovery?
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #23 of 83: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Mon 21 Apr 08 13:54
    
One of the things I noticed in industry is that the people who were
most creative or analytical, i.e. had the new idea or knew what is
wrong were seldom the ones to organize and lead the implementation of
the new.  

This I have attributed to difference in skill sets, a little like the
revolutionary not being the best at running the government that results
from the revolution.  This may be most pronounced at larger scales.

Do you see sustainability attracting a balance of skills in this
regard?
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #24 of 83: Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Mon 21 Apr 08 14:29
    
some more good issue --Starck (another designer brand) and
revolution...are they connected?? -- since its a little late over here
I'll get to them tomorrow...
  
inkwell.vue.325 : Ann Thorpe: The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
permalink #25 of 83: fat and sassy and laying eggs (wiggly) Mon 21 Apr 08 15:25
    
Speaking of large-scale system changes, do you think conservation is a
cornerstone of a designer's understanding of sustainability? Conservation
seems to be implied throughout the atlas, yet the word itself isn't
referenced in the index.

Was that a conscious decision? The term "conservation" appears to have
become a negative in our culture, even among some people who consider
themselves environmentalists.
  

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