Jargon Watch: Slow Design


Leigh Wells for the New York Times

A movement that started in the kitchen with Slow Food International is beginning to take over the entire house. Slow Design, much like its gastronomic predecessor, is all about pulling back on the reins and taking time to do things well, do them responsibly, and do them in a way that allows the designer, the artisan and the end user to derive pleasure from it.

Just like Slow Food, it's all about using local ingredients, harvested and put together in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Above all, it emphasizes thoughtful, methodical, slow creation and consumption of products as a way to combat the sometimes overwhelming pace of life in the bigger-faster-now 21st century.

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According to the New York Times, there are a few early adopters of the Slow Design movement, including some familiar to TreeHugger. Alabama Chanin, formerly of Project Alabama (she left the company when her business partners decided to shift production to India) is leading the charge with her hand-stitched garments made from recycled t-shirts and textiles; her book, "Alabama Stitch Book: Projects and Stories Celebrating Hand-Sewing, Quilting, and Embroidery for Contemporary Sustainable Design," is due out in March.

But it's not just fashion; designer Alastair Fuad-Luke, author of "The Eco-design Handbook," is on board, as is Calgary-based architect John Brown whose philosophy and website, The Slow Home, urges us not to consume "fast-food architecture." Add to that Geir Berthelsen, a Norwegian motivational speaker whose slowplanet.com website will launch in mid-March, has as its goal to be a hub for all things slow, from slow travel to slow shopping to slow design; a true "slow lifestyle."

"Slow, as Carl Honoré, a Canadian journalist living in London, pointed out, is sometimes just a state of mind. His 2005 book, 'In Praise of Slow: Challenging the Cult of Speed' (HarperOne), collected all manner of slow movements, from tantric sex to Slow Food to the Society for the Deceleration of Time, a civic group based Austria that once called on Olympics organizers to award gold medals to athletes who had the slowest times.

"'Sometimes it's more of a click in attitude than anything else,'" said Mr. Honoré." We're glad to see the attitude spreading into design, and ultimately, everywhere in our lives. ::New York Times

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