Over the course of the semester the concept of sustainability became easier to understand, however the idea is constantly growing and changing, making understanding more and more difficult. As I look back to what I used to think sustainability is, I see a difference between what I did see in the subject and what I see now. At the beginning of the semester I defined sustainability with very typical words such as recycling and “green,” now the definition I think of has developed from those words into sustainable theories and practices. Sustainability is of course to better the environment, however it is more than just the outside world. I believe sustainability is the act of changing habits and creating new uses for products to better the world in which people live by making it safer, more whole, and designed for everyone.
Sustainability to me, is the ability to make products and the outside world better with better products. These better products come from my initial view of sustainability, these products are recycled, organic, and do not harm the land and people that use them. Until recently, I did not see the purpose of living a sustainable life, and I especially did not understand the need to change design to aid sustainability. Now I see that sustainability is a lifestyle, yes, but it is also a way of life that removes selfish thinking and encourages us to think about the world and others, instead of right now for ourselves.
In coming months myself, and several other students will be leaving school to design for the public, and I think to myself is sustainability brought to the minds of every design student? Soon I will be designing buildings for a variety of clients, clients who will take the time to listen about the need to be sustainable and those that will not. How can I still design with sustainability in my mind, when it is not in the forefront of others? This is simple, because sustainability could be so many things, I have the opportunity to use concepts that are well known and concepts that are benign thanks to the information applied in this class. The concepts of biomimicry and biophilia have stepped into the light and made me think about how simple it can be to make someone feel better; both pertain to nature and the way nature is designed and the way nature makes us feel. The study of biophilia, has shown me how easy we as designers can change someone else’s feelings for the better, because it has been proven that natural scenes, smells, and textures give a familiar sense to humans, as well as, relaxation. As I researched biophilia more inclusively I found an interesting article about the use of moss walls in interior spaces. The style is said to soothe users of the space and has become rather “trendy” recently, however, the most interesting is where the idea came from. Moss was used on the interiors of walls by Buddhist monks over a thousand years ago, because they felt it created the feeling of freedom and to take away from distraction and clutter. The idea has been in use for over one thousand years and is still being studying and re-imagined today.
From the idea of designing for someone’s overall feelings through biophilia, and then learning about empathic design I began to understand what empathic design truly was and how important it is to design, through the idea of changing someone’s life so simply. Learning about empathic design is when I had an epiphany that changed my way of thinking about design. If we as designers could think of others abilities, disabilities, feelings, and thoughts and learn from them through each design we can become the best designers we can be. If we as new designers thought beyond the aesthetics of a space and thought about the true needs of a client, we could change lives and feelings, by just thinking and adjusting to our clients need for happiness and function.
I had the opportunity to learn more about empathic design through the research I did for my LOLA show, learning about tiny pre-built homes that allow users to live where they normally could not. The purpose of the DublDom is to allow home owners to have a home in a part of the environment that cannot be reached by 100’s of workers and equipment. The DublDom is to make the homeowner happy because they get to be somewhere that truly makes them happy, in nature. The link between biophilia and empathic design has encouraged me to learn so much more about sustainable theories than I thought I would, and it has encouraged me to keep sustainability at the front of my design processes and thoughts. I believe that sustainability can not only be used in design, but in ever day life and other aspects of work, life, and thinking, I hope to encourage others to learn as I have and learn with me as I continue to become knowledgeable about the ever changing and growing subject.