In a packed breakout session room, Chris Hacker, head honcho in the Global Strategic Design Office of J&J, gave a precisely-executed presentation on sustainability, starting out with the usual suspects but then moving to some actionable points. Here are his "11 Questions to Ask Before You Design, Specify, or Buy Anything":
1. Do we need it? Can we live without it?
2. Is the project designed to minimize waste?
3. Can it be smaller, lighter or made from fewer materials?
4. Is it designed to be durable or multi-functional?
5. Does it use renewable resources?
6. Is reuse practical and encouraged?
7. Are the product and packaging refillable, recyclable, or repairable?
8. Is it made with post-consumer recycled or reclaimed materials and how much?
9. Are the materials available in a less toxic form? Can it be made with less toxic materials?
10. Is it available from a socially and environmentally responsible company
11. Is it made locally?
There were several of these lists over the weekend, but go ahead and print this out and tack it up over your desk.
Cat Chow took to the mainstage with a flourish of images and charm, opening with the reflection, "Often I get asked if I'm an artist or a designer." She has two answers: "I design art," and "I am an artist of design." Chow showed a ton of her various zipper explorations--dresses, wall sculptures, and more--veering off to chainmail and some garments made out of plastic disks. "Measure For Measure" was a punny dress made from measuring tapes, and "Record Belts" were wonderful spirals of leather belts wound to resemble, from top view, vintage LPs. At the conclusion of her talk, she moved to the center of the stage, and sang, a cappella, "Sensitivity," a song she dedicated to Jeremy Blake and Teresa Duncan. See all her work at cat-chow.com.
Yves Behar, local hero of course, gave a great talk, focusing on pro bono work with a thoughtful, beginning-to-end story of design process and intent. Behar has long been successful in articulating the purpose and story of his design work, but he seemed to be on all (modest) cylinders this Saturday morning. He encouraged us "As designers, we need to be optimistic, and to not listen to the media too much," and also that "design's value is so important--and the value goes so far beyond the fee model--that we really need to drive toward something new and different." This was a nice design for designers presentation, with one admonition ringing in our ears long after he left the stage: "If it is not ethical, it can't be beautiful." Doesn't get better than that folks.