London Design Festival: Evolution or Revolution at Greengaged

Thoughts of evolution and revolution at Greengaged photo

Greengaged was potentially one of the most exciting parts of the London Design Festival. A whole series of events dedicated to eco-design and sustainability was totally unprecedented on the festival calendar and thanks to the programme curated by three amazing women: Sophie Thomas of Thomas Matthews, Anne Chick of Kingston University and Sarah Johnson of [re]design, it didn't disappoint. Each day there were several talks at the Design Council and activities about town. Petz got go on a barge trip along the city canals to a recycling plant, while I got the opportunity to decide whether the world should opt for "Evolution or Revolution"! Click over the page to find out about the Greengaged Design Manifesto. Encouraging Behaviour Change through Design
I was lucky enough to attend several Greengaged events throughout the festival. On the first Tuesday the Behaviour Change talk featured presentations from Luke Nicholson of More Associates, Fiona Bennie of Forum For The Future and Lea Simpson of Unchained, all talking about ways in which their work is dedicated to helping the public to engage in more sustainable behaviour. The conclusion of the session included several key points: guilt doesn't work, show the impact of the many, understand the context of behaviour, observe people in their own environments.

Brainstorming sheet at Greengaged photo

How to work with recycled materials
On Thursday I listened to the Material Masterclass with textile innovator Kate Goldsworthy, plastics guru Colin Williamson of Smile Plastics and Christopher Pett of Pli Design who wowed the audience with his recently launched Sony Playstation Chair. He explained the story behind the design which involved a lot of research into how to best recycle the plastic from old games consoles into viable seating. It is the first product to be endorsed by the Waste Neutral scheme at the Eden Project.

Who are the dangers of greenwashing?
Friday night was certainly a night for fighting, or rather strong discussion. Under the title "Should we believe the hype?" a panel of experts chaired by the amazing everywhere-at-once Lucy Siegle discussed the effects of greenwashing on the mass market. Chris Sherwin of Forum for the Future quoted from a TreeHugger post which said "the attitude of 'it's green because I say so' doesn't cut it anymore." Richard George from activist group Plane Stupid lamented over BP's Target Neutral and EDF's Easter Island energy ads. Sophie Thomas ridiculed the poor efforts of Marie Claire's and Vanity Fair's green issues. Ed Gillespie of Futerra told us about their greenwash guide and worried that there is increased cynicism about eco-friendly products due to greenwashing. John Grant sung the praises of Innocent Drinks as a brand with a genuine good intentions. Finally Stewart Rassier from Saatchi & Saatchi S caused some consternation on the panel and in the audience with his agency's support of Wal-Mart's green initiatives. John Grant asked if we should be aiming for "reform or revolution?"

Debating future energy sources at Greengaged photo

Creating the Greengaged Manifesto
John Grant was back in action on the final Tuesday picking up the theme of revolution. A large cast of eco-design practitioners were gathered together for some “Hard, fast conversations about designing for a future“. They were definitely hard and they were definitely fast, there was to be no messing about as the first question landed on my round table of participants "Evolution or Revolution?" No they weren't making it easy for us! Other tables were faced with Efficiency or Effectiveness? How can we reward Good? Alarmism or Step Change? These difficult questions of course provoked energetic debate which was scribbled hastily down on large sheets of paper.

After presentations from Nic Marks of New Economics Foundation and Michael Pawlyn of Exploration Architecture who wowed the audience with his Sahara Forest Project, we were all asked to put our heads together and create the beginnings of a Greengaged Manifesto, which would sum up the series of events with a clear mandate of what we want sustainable design to be. Each round table made quick summaries of their ambitions which John Grant is now currently formulating into a written manifesto. To make your contribution you can visit the Greengaged blog and leave comments to be included in the final result. Watch this space....

:: Greengaged
More on London Design Festival 2008:
London Design Festival 2008 Green Events Round-Up
LIGHTEN UP lighting solutions by [re]design (Part 1)
London Design Festival: A Visit to the Powerday Waste Recycling Plant
London Design Festival: The Thonet Project
London Design Festival: Sustainable Furniture
London Design Festival: Conceptual KithKin
London Design Festival: Gnocchi Bar

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