With the end of this course coming to a close, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed this course and learned a lot about design and how I can personally integrate sustainability into my work as a designer. Prior to taking this course my thoughts on sustainability relied around the environment and only creating items that could sustain a longer life than the products currently on the market. Although that point is definitely true, it does not encompass the entirety of living sustainably.
One of the most significant points in this class I learned from the documentary, 11th Hour , that we watched towards the beginning of the semester. It was a documentary about how the negative treatment from humanity has effected the planet. I found it to be quite a well-rounded argument because it interviewed professionals from many different fields that all agreed about the issue of our deteriorating plant. One of the speakers had mentioned how the industrial revolution was essentially the root of all evils when it came to the issue of our planet’s declining health. At first, I thought the individual was a little crazy and that the comment was a little far fetched, but as I thought about it longer, I realized that it was completely true. Humanity has been in existence for around 200,000 years on this earth and has lived peacefully on the planet. Ever since the introduction of the Industrial Revolution, around 200 years ago, the negative effects have been to numerous to count. This idea of fast for cheap has infected every industry in existence. To support this fast and furious life style, humanity has taken advantage of the planet that has forever been our home and completely abused the resources native to Earth. No matter what personal beliefs individuals own, there are hard fact and scientific explanations to show that our planet cannot sustain an animal that does such damage as us for much longer–hence the name of the movie. Another point that really hit home for me was towards the end of the movie. This man who represented a Native American tribe spoke about how the human race will not out live the planet, but vice versa. This made me think of my favorite book, The Road, (by Cormac McCarthy). Some sort of natural disaster has occurred, and the human race is dying out; at the end of the book, the author describes a scene where no humans exist, but nature begins to revive itself and slowly grow to begin a new life of vegetation and existence on the Earth. Although that might sound a bit like a downer, I found that book (and it’s ending) to be very hopeful and applicable to the current situation in our world.
Some of the other concepts that I really enjoyed were Cradle to Cradle and empathic design. Cradle to Cradle was a topic that I found very applicable to all majors and options in our class. It is where a product is introduced into the market and is continuously used and reintroduced as new and different objects with sometimes new and different purposes. Within apparel design, I realized the potential for this concept in many different applications. The senior class completed a project where we designed ensembles only using materials that we had in the DHM collection. A massive amount of fabric was donated to the department and we were able to go through and pick some for our project. Some of us used the fabric in it’s original while others utilized textile surface techniques to transform the fabric into something else. By doing so we were able to have more of an appreciation for different fabrics and techniques and we all felt good about not contributing to environmental waste with fabric cutting, etc.
The time spent on empathic design had to be my favorite because it was most related to apparel design. To me, it was almost a marriage of missions and design. My group completed the empathic design project by interviewing and designing for Ms. Delaina in the DHM office. We really enjoyed talking with her and understanding her specific wants and needs within a garment. For her it was really important to have a comfortable and easy garment that she could wear many different ways. Ease of care for the garment was also important– she did not want to have to have it drycleaned on a regular basis. With that in mind, we created a dress out of morphotex material that could be worn over many different items to give many different looks for many different occasions.