This semester has definitely been a journey for me personally. I think the two most important things I have learned about myself this semester are 1) I cannot get up before 8 a.m. (but yet I have another 8 a.m. next semester) and 2) I care about sustainable design. I have learned a lot about sustainable design this semester and realized that sustainability is more than just “reduce, reuse, and recycle”.
Now that the course is basically over, I believe that my definition of what sustainability is has changed since the beginning of the semester. To me, sustainability is prioritizing keeping things in a closed loop and instead of waiting for items to decompose, just using them again and again until the item is completely used up. Sustainable design is a facet of sustainability. Sustainable design is designing with sustainability in mind. It is designing key items that people need not just for a moment, but for a lifetime. Designing products that can evolve and adjust to the consumer’s needs and lifestyle is the goal of sustainable design. The thoughts I have about sustainability and sustainable design have evolved from the beginning of the semester. At the beginning of the semester I just assumed that we would be discussing how to reuse things for a new purpose, but really we attempted to come up with ideas made out of materials that aren’t generally used but are sustainable.
The most important things I learned that I believe will matter most to my merchandising major is empathic design. I really had an epiphany while learning about empathic design because it is the future of product development and design. There are a million different products available on the market, but the products that are best designed for actual use and functionality are the products that dominate the market. At the beginning of the segment on empathic design, I really had the basic idea of what it was–it is designing with your consumer in mind–but now that thought has greatly expanded. Empathic design is truly stepping into your consumer’s lives and understanding their struggles and triumphs and designing around that.
What really made me realize the depth of empathic design was the TED talk video with Paul Bennett. He literally had his friends sit in a hospital bed for days to realize what would make a hospital room more hospitable and welcoming. That really touched me. The main perception I have of hospitals was that all hospitals were cold and sterile. But I am hoping with the increase in interest in empathic design will help make hospitals more inviting and less scary.
Studying empathic design has helped me realize some new goals for my career. Yes, I want to be involved in the designing and merchandising of fashion products, but I also want to be involved in the process of designing and merchandising fashion products that are truly helpful and appealing to people. I want to be a part of a beautiful and successful industry, but is it really worth being a part of when the main goal is to make a profit? I want the focus of the fashion industry to switch from making profit to wanting to help people and touch their hearts.
Knowing what I know now, I want to learn more about the role of biophilic design in the fashion industry. I believe that it will be a growing trend in fashion as time goes on because people are becoming more interested in nature and its resources or growing lack of resources. “Biophilia” really means that things and people are meant to interact with nature. And I believe that it is accurate. People are always looking for products that are inspired by nature. I enjoyed learning about the different ways that people can interact with nature and look forward to learning about it more.
I think the main thing that I was expected to learn about during this course was recycling, but I was surprised when I realized that this course was much more than that. I never thought before this course that sustainability had this many different segments. I hope to continually keep up an interest in sustainable design and integrate the ideas I have learned in this course into my career.