When the term Sustainable Design came into use, it sounded like a really, really good thing. I mean, sustainable anything is a good idea, right? Benefits people and the earth (and possibly animals), uses less resources, produces less waste, around for the long term, all that.
But what, exactly, is Sustainable Design? Is it the part about using recycled paper and plant-based inks, is it designing something for more than one use or to be used in a recycled way when the client is done with it?
It seemed to indicate that, while the design process produces long-lasting effects by solving problems and generating new ideas, the designed products themselves had to bend to an ecological mindset that they weren’t good to hang around for very long, and should compost or deconstruct after a period of time. Which I don’t think made any of us designers too comfortable.
AIGA National recently started an initiative called Design for Good—a movement to ignite, accelerate and amplify design-driven social change. Design for Good promotes sustainability in that the process of design effects change how we view the world, and in turn have ideas that propagate further change.
“What every business needs. And how.”, a new brochure from AIGA, has a pretty good layout of how design produces business success. It also spells out the design process, which is really nice because I think businesses forget from time to time that there is a design process applied to products and solutions.
I like this part
Design can create desire…improve intelligence…impact productivity…speak volumes…start a revolution…and eliminate frustration.
Hmm. The same solutions that drive a business forward can also be applied to driving social change.
I think of Sustainable Design or Design for Good as any other design effort but remembering these solutions. It’s still design. But with the benefits and energy and understanding, it’s just design for good.