The man needs no introduction so here he is: Eames Demetrios, "superintendent" of the Charles and Ray Eames legacy and a filmmaker, designer and thinker (who I've somehow managed to ride in both an elevator and taxi with so far this trip). He tells us that Ray actually spoke in this very same theater back in the day (John Bielenberg, sitting next to me, says that he saw it!) and even showed the Powers of Ten film. So we'll watch that now (watch along at home!). How about a little perspective for those of you discouraged with revisions: They actually had to make the film three times.
Ray and Charles talked about "way it should be-ness" when a design solution is so simple and appropriate with no extraneous materials, people don't feel like they're compromising. And design is completely dependent on those constraints. A way to design sustainably is seeing it as a combination of "way it should be-ness" and as a constraint, in the same way that you can see price or budget as a limit to what you can make.
The connections between the powers of ten also relates to sustainability. Numbers and scale are not good or bad, says Demetrios, it's just a tool we need to use in order to make solutions. You can think about climate change in that way: Global warming is caused by a very small molecule of carbon which is, in essence, harmless. But then ten billion people filled up the earth's atmosphere with it and then had it cooked by the sun which is at the scale of 10^13. And now we have a problem.
With a series of really beautiful images, Demetrios encourages us to look at our design problems at all scales. Think about things broken down into elements and materials or at a massive 10^13 scale or even seeing an object as it moves hundreds of years through time. How can we retrain ourselves to look at something in a different way? His project Kymaerica, a kind of alternative world travel guide, is all about this, looking at places and things in a different way, and that's what sustainability is all about.
The ability to zoom in and out of scale also gives you a sense to see all the tangentially-related things along the way, a sense of serendipity, which Googling has kind of ruined for us because can find "anything we want." But sometimes, says Demetrios, we don't know what we're looking for. Just think about the olden days when we used to go to the library and that joy of stumbling upon all other things we didn't mean to find. Bringing that same approach to designing these solutions for sustainability is the key: The willingness to surrender to the journey. And he ended with a really beautiful statement: "Scale is the new geography, and it will give us the tools we need to understand the world."