We've got a post-script from last week's Designers Accord Town Hall Meeting at BOLTgroup in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thanks to Karen Smith for her reflections and Gianluca Camarda for his photographs.
How do you entice a crowd of designers to attend yet another meeting straight after work?
Offer rich content on sustainable design...and free wine.
BOLTgroup hosted the Designer's Accord Town Hall in Charlotte, NC, the first such event in the Southeast. The Town Hall created a forum for sharing sustainable design practices and was attended by over fifty designers. The Designers Accord is a global coalition of designers, educators, and corporate leaders, working together to create positive environmental and social impact.
Designers from the Charlotte area sipped on beverages in corn-based plastic cups, and ate off plates made from plant-based renewable materials. Industrial designers, graphics designers, architects and interior designers made connections with like-minded colleges committed to sustainability in their practices. Everyone was enjoying the initial "meet and greet" so much it was hard to start the presentations. An emergency run to the store for more wine reminded us how designers love their libation! After an extra 20 minutes of consumption and a tapping of the microphone from our MC, Monty Montague, the crowd settled in.
While brief technical difficulties got the presentations off to a rocky start (momentary microphone reverberations sounded oddly like a crackling radio station) the first presentation finally succeeded by way of a web link with Valerie Casey from San Francisco. Valerie, founder of The Designers Accord, gave us a history of how the Designers Accord came to be and reviewed some of the guidelines: 1. declare participation, 2. educate teams, 3. measure your footprint (be conscious of resources), 4. dialogue â€“ talk to each client, 5. engage/experiment/collaborate â€“ all design starts to tackle issues.Valerie also showcased several sustainable case studies at Fast Company's web site and she discussed the upcoming Global Summit on Design Education & Sustainability.
Matt Grigsby, IDSA, also presented via web link. Matt is the Chair of the EcoDesign Section of IDSA and CEO/Co-Founder of ecolect.net, and provided a review of the sustainable design resources available online through IDSA. Two books were endorsed by Matt as he closed his presentation: Sustainable Industrial Design and Waste Management by Salah El-Hagar, and Strategy for Sustainability by Adam Werbach.
Rachel Martin, owner of Rachel Martin Design, and Membership Director of AIGA Charlotte, discussed AIGA's sustainability program. The site has great information, such as case studies and 11 questions to ask before you design. (A new web site will be launched in October 2009.) A highlight of the evening was a video from AIGA Maine at their Compost Modern conference. Rachel concluded her presentation with the insight, "as designers we are enablers"; we have the ability to enable our clients to be better stewards of our resources.
After a brief break to refuel, Chris Jarrett, UNC Charlotte Architecture Professor, discussed the sustainability curriculum in architectural education today. The curricular leader in sustainability is The University of Texas; however, there are a number of universities focusing on Design-Build Housing, including UNC Charlotte. Chris also discussed the 2007 Solar Decathlon Competition, in which the goal was to design and build a near net zero energy house powered by the sun by university students and faculty from 20 schools. The competition showed how one could restructure household resources toward renewable energy, and was key in proposing innovation and new technologies. However, the 2007 competition only focused on single-family housing and did not look at other renewable strategies, such as wind or biomass.
Next, BOLTgroup's own Gianluca Camarda, IDSA, reviewed our Good Earth Process Life Cycle Analysis Report Card, the purpose of which is to compare the full range of environmental and social impacts associated with our designs as compared to previous products, and to be able to choose the one with the least negative impact. We look at materials, manufacturing, transportation/distribution, use, and end of life in the industrial design process in the quest to keep the products we design as sustainable as possible.
Paul Raybin, Chief Sustainability Officer, and Bonnie Julian, VP Textile Division of Colorep Inc. shared the sustainable AirDye fabric printing technology, which uses very little water and an 85% reduction in energy and CO2 emissions versus traditional wet printing and dyeing. AirDye not only provides sustainable design solutions, it also brings beauty to design. For instance, Hunter Douglas Hospitality was only able to offer ceiling and wall panels in two colors—white and black. With AirDye technology, they are now able to offer panels in stucco, marble, wood grains, and other colors, bringing design to sustainability. And AirDye technology is not just for the hospitality market—it is used in apparel, accessories, swimwear, and floor coverings.
The presentations wrapped up with Margaret Fergusson, CEO of Inhabiteriors and Showroom Manager of Oecotextiles, who discussed sustainable fabric materials and their application in interior design. She provided some truly alarming statistics about the world in which we live—we spend 90% of our time inside, and the air pollution inside is five times worse than that outside. More than 72,000 chemicals have been invented since World War II. They are used in the carpets we walk on, the clothes we wear, the cookware we use, the paint on the walls—all around us. But we do have a choice. We can avoid chemicals, harmful dyes, off gases and excess waste. As Margaret reminded us, "We have an intimate relationship with our fabrics—get to known them before you invite them into your life."
Discussions of "What's next?" filled the air after the last presenter was done and the final question was answered. Rachel Martin and Margaret Fergusson suggested a Town Hall 2 to maintain the momentum. Monty Montague and Manoj Kesavan discussed a possible connection between the Town Hall and the Charlotte Pecha-Kucha presentations that Manoj organizes. More to come at blog.boltgroup.com, and check out the video montage here.
As the guests departed, they were met outside on the BOLTgroup patio with such a sight of wonderment, they could hardly believe—a giant cloud of images, logos and sustainable philosophies, courtesy of Wonderworld, filled the summer air. The "Cloud"—a twenty-foot wide fabric balloon with internal video projections—is a reusable promotion technology offered by Wonderworld.
Attendees left inspired with new information on sustainable design, connections that can help put the knowledge into practice, and the realization of just how much further there is to go.