What's up with the literary overachievers in this afternoon session? Nathan Shedroff has written four, yes, four books just in the last year, and all of which came out last week. Let's name them, shall we? Experience Design 1.1, Design Is the Problem, Experience Design 1 Cards, and the Dictionary of Sustainable Management.
Shedroff is the Design MBA chair at CCA and also, many years ago, invented the term "experience design" which is obvious when you look at the domain name he secured probably sometime in the 80s (nathan.com). He has a vast list of resources that he will have ready for us to absorb so we can jump in feet first Monday morning. And thank goodness; he said we don't have to take notes because he's going to post everything for us online. Okay, okay, I'll still take notes.
Can we even be sustainable? And what does sustainability really mean? In 1987 it meant: "Use and development that meets today's needs without preventing those needs from being met by future generations." But today, Shedroff thinks it means "Don't do things today that make tomorrow worse." And if you have more stubborn people you have to convince, add "...for your kids."
We've also lost control of the work conservative, he says, which is so close to the world conservationist that it should mean the same thing...so people who actually care about conservation should take the word conservative and make the conservatives find another word. Wild applause for this.
Also? Sustainability it's not just "for the planet," it's a three-fold way of thinking: social, environmental, financial. So no more Green. "Have a funeral, bury it." It signals that you care more about plants and animals than people. You can call it Blue if you must. It's something pioneered by Adam Werbach and his work with WalMart (last year's Compostmodern closing speaker). and when you're talking to business people, use the word "capital" appended to the end of each three areas. Actually, try Human Capital, Natural Capital and Financial Capital. "It sounds stupid," he says, "but a lot of business is really stupid."
He then runs through a bunch of the metrics we use to define sustainable design. Life Cycle Analysis, Cradle to Cradle, Natural Step, Biomimicry, Edwin Datschefski's definition of Total Beauty, Social Return on Investment, Sustainability Helix...most of these are great for addressing one issue but overall they're not complete and don't equally tap the three-fold of social, environmental, financial. Nothing alone is good enough, but if you research what parts work for you. (Remember, Shedroff is posting all of this online for us. He has done all the hard work for us, now all we have to do is, um...do it.)
Now. What can you actually do?
Design for Use: Usability, accessibility, clarity and meaning. You can tell your clients if they don't make more meaningful, useful stuff, someone else will.
Dematerialization: Materials, energy and transportation. Push the suppliers and manufacturers to think about these things.
Substitution: Materials, energy and transportation. We need to know more about the materials we recommend. And maybe get rid of printed matter altogether.
Localization: Reduce transportation. We expend a lot to move things around.
Transmaterialization: Sharing things. They last longer and use less resources.
Informationalization: Don't send the dish, send the recipe. Open source and network sharing. Architecture for Humanity.
Design for Durability: Heritage design. He uses Dyson as the example. Making something last longer, be more meaningful and also more repairable.
Design for Reuse: Maille condiment jars have been shipped in beautiful jars that can be reused as drinking glasses.
Design for Disassembly: Rickshaw bags are made entirely out of nylon, and the entire thing can be dropped into a recycling bin.
Close the Loop: Finding civic partners who can use your waste or supply your materials.
Redesigning the System: Look at a place like Curitiba, Brazil, where an architect became the mayor and transformed both transportation and the slums using design.
Redesign the System: The GDP has gone up, but the GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator) has done down. We should be using this system instead to define success. This is another design problem. Our economic models suck ("And if you get an economist drunk they'll admit that," he says).
And after that, read six books---told you there would be homework---which Shedroff will post on his site tomorrow. And yes, I do believe there will be a test.