What Truly Defines Sustainable Design?


Over at the David Report ("the intersection of design, culture and business life with a creative and humanistic approach"), proprietor David Carlson is engaging designer Satyendra Pakhalé in a series of discussions about design; in part two of five, they tackle sustainability in design, which results in a pretty interesting read. Many of Pakhalé's conceptions of sustainability align closely with what we try to promote here at TreeHugger, so we'll pick out a few key quotes that are worth repeating.

On the topic of "what defines sustainable design", Pakhalé remarks that, "the best way to make sustainable design is to concentrate on quality, both concerning design and material. To produce better products. Mass consumption and sustainability doesn’t go very well together. I would love to see more 'design classics', the kind of products your children can inherit." When it comes to assigning "responsibility" in propagating sustainable design, Pakhalé says, "The trouble is that if sustainability becomes another buzzword, then we will loose the real meaning of it. I think that in every design project it should be somehow dealt with, without almost mentioning it."These ideas get at a lot of the questions that get bounced around TreeHugger on a fairly regular basis: What defines "sustainability"? Is there a gradient or easy way to judge one material, one design, one concept vs. another? Is it better to use quickly renewable materials like bamboo, or invest in a design with fewer outwardly sustainable features that will last for generations? There's a lot of gray area here, and there are rarely absolutes that allow us to simply give a product, design or idea a quick "pass" based on where, how, or from what it's made. Perhaps the most important take-away from such a discussion is that, given the growing bounty of choices available to us all, it's more important than ever to simply think about our personal interactions with our stuff and where it comes from. It's not about sustainability for the sake of calling it "green"; it's about making meaningful connections with the things that surround us, and interacting with design and products accordingly. ::The David Report via ::Core77

So, what does sustainable design mean to you? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments section, or, better yet, over in TreeHugger Forums.

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