Sustainability – the word originally brought up terms such as green, recycle, hippie. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture according Google definitions. In the course, Sustainable Design for Apparel and Interiors I learned that the word sustainable means more than what I had originally thought. I would now define sustainability as the intertwining of nature and human behavior. Sustainability is not technical, but a pattern of thinking and behavior. I would define sustainable design within interior design as developing a balanced built environment consisting of natural and society in mind.
Taking a look back throughout the fifteen weeks…there were two main topics discussed and picked at – Empathic Design and Industrial Ecology. In A Framework for Empathy in Design: Stepping into and out of the User’s Life by Kouprie and Visser, we were introduced to design from a client’s perspective. We furthered that knowledge with Design Probes – which allowed us to peer into each other’s lives for a brief forty-eight hour period and analyze each other’s personalities. We were challenged to create a product that this particular person would purchase based on their Design Probe package. As an interior design student, this allowed me to see that in order to make something last based on clients needs (satisfaction); you have to be able to connect with them personally. Satisfaction is the gateway to attachment. Also within our study of Empathic Design we learned that humans are more attached to objects when they a personalized/customized – we form a bond with inanimate objects such as a blanket that we had since birth, a treasured item that we will not throw away – long-term use. In order to reach a proper empathic design approach, designers must be able to connect with meanings, experience, interactions, culture, emotion, and values. We have to have the ability to use the psychological constructs within empathic design: effective and cognitive – the ability to not only understand feelings, but understand what the feeling means (to step in and to step out). In our sixth week we learned about the needs and activism within empathic design. In Design Activism by Brown we learned that Design Activism is the most inclusive design – designing for the higher good of many. We discussed the focal points of design activism: alternative banking, international development, alternative economies, intellectual property ownership, and corporate lobbyist. There are two primary capitals – nature and human. Nature capital is all life springs; it measures the availability of resources. Human capital is the acquired and useful abilities: physical, intellectual, psychology, dexterity, judgment, spiritual, and emotional. In order to change human capital, you have to be able to first change cultural and then social. Design Activism introduced the term “social entrepreneur” – increasing self-sufficiency and long-term viability (someone who has seen negativity in society and sees where society needs to improve and dedicates their life to changing that negativity.). Overall, we learned that enhancing human and social capital is what design activism is all about. When learning about Empathic Design, I found that the constant wanting – and fast fashion – within society allows for no or limited satisfaction/gratification which in turn diminishes a balanced growth. It is said that positivity, happiness and growth all lie within the natural world. In A Biomimicry Primer by Benyus, we were introduced to bio*mimicry – using nature as a model; emulating what nature does. Industrial Ecology uses nature’s principles/lessons as a model to increase market competitiveness and stability. We learned about reducing environmental impact and increasing natural capital – waste = food. As interior designers, the main topic under industrial ecology was the disposal of construction materials.
Knowing what I know now from the course, I would like to learn more about how sustainable design affects interiors as well as the long term effect on a person living within a sustainable environment versus living how society does today. I did expect to learn about more of what I could do in society in general versus just what I learned focused on interior design and apparel majors. Overall this experience was very beneficial and full of knowledge I would not have readily informed myself with at this particular point in time. I hope to continue to connect, inform, process, practice, and commit myself and my designs to a state of sustainability. After all, the end was just an eye opener.