Ann Thorpe on Design as Activism

Ann Thorpe, author of the wonderful Designer's Atlas of Sustainability, is now studying "how designers have been engaging with social and environmental change over the last 20 years." She has started an interesting blog called Design Activism: reflections on the role of design as activism and has been collecting manifestos, noting that they often adopt "the language of politics—revolution, even— these texts urge designers to take more action for social and environmental good."

Classics like Bill McDonough's Hanover Principles are there, but also Mike Lin's Designer's call to arms: We've screwed up. Now it's time to redesign our future. in which he writes:

"We've been settling for second best for too long—too often do "ecological," "green," or "sustainable" products fall short in function and design. Despite good intentions, such token products as ineffective natural cleaners; dim compact-fluorescent light bulbs; and coarse hemp garments reinforce stereotypes of inferior quality and inconvenience. Mediocre products cause more harm than good; their disappointing functionality and lackluster design alienate the general public and fail to resonate with the broader audience needed to effect real, mainstream change." (PDF Here)

Interesting reading if like me, you are trying to figure out the meaning of sustainable design. ::Design Activism