Monday, March 19, 2018

“Design is the Problem”


In Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must be Sustainable, Nathan Shedroff examines how the endemic culture of design often creates unsustainable solutions, and shows how designers can bake sustainability into their design processes in order to produce more sustainable solutions.

This is going straight to the top of my reading list. Nathan Shedroff has always been a great read and inspiration. His pioneering book “Experience design” introduced me the term and ideas and more recently “Making meaning” revitalised the experience design discourse for the “experience economy”. You can get both print and digital versions of “Design is the Problem” at Rosenfeld Media

There is an interview with Nathan about the book at core77, which is also publishing an exclusive excerpt from it and have a special discount available for their readers.

I’ll say that Meaning is the most significant and powerful element of whatever people create for others. Just like how our faces show emotion universally, core meanings are universal throughout all of humanity. This means that every person, in every culture, knows what these core meanings are and why they are significant. Of course, we all prioritize and express meanings differently, which is how they form our values and how they tie into our emotions. Meanings, values, and emotions sit at a deeper level in our lives than price and performance. So, they’re more powerful (which is why they can be so motivating and effective when triggered correctly) but they’re much more difficult to detect, understand, and design for. However, as humans, we do this everyday, just more intuitively or accidentally than deliberately.

Connecting to people’s values and meanings is going to be critical in order to change behaviors and choices and reach more sustainable goals. There’s nothing inherently off-putting about sustainability at all. I challenge you to find someone who is in favor of purposely ruining the future. The problem is in helping people become aware of their impacts and connecting their perfectly adequate values to the effects their activities have. Most of the issues and imperatives around sustainability are simply invisible to people and if we can make them visible, in their languages, we can get more people on board. It’s more than merely design but design thinking and processes can contribute tremendously to making this happen quickly.


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A research blog about interaction, design research, urban informatics, ambient computing, visualisation, emerging technologes and their impact on the built environment.

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This is a blog by Gonzalo Garcia-Perate a PhD researcher at The Bartlett, looking at adaptive ambient information in urban spaces.

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