Prior to this sustainability course, I had already taken problem solving, which focuses on the concept of sustainability. However, problem solving did not go into as much detail as this course we are finishing up this semester did. Coming into this class, I had my own opinions about sustainability and what I thought it meant to me. Before all of the activities, TED talks and learning community projects, I had a very simple definition of sustainability. I believed that sustainability was simply recycling and making sure we do not keep putting waste back into the environment. With this, I also did not see a difference between sustainability and sustainable design. After almost completing this class, I have a very different perspective towards sustainable design. As an interior designer, I have taken many studios and almost all of my professors focus on “green” design and designing for the future. However, this sustainability class allowed me to dive more into the idea of sustainable design and helped me to relate this to my field of interior design. One of my favorite aspects of this class is that we are asked to think about our own field and how sustainable design relates to that. We have interior designers, apparel merchandisers and apparel designers and the concept of sustainability is important in all of these fields. With the thought of interior design in mind, I now define sustainable design as designing every space while taking all environmental impacts into consideration. When designing a space, think of how that space can interact with the environment to benefit both the environment and the user. We need to learn to use waste to our advantage and use the environmental problems present in our world as motivation. After taking this class, I view nature as a free source of natural design aspects and sustainable designs. However, we are slowly killing nature instead of utilizing natures design as a way to interact with the environment. In conclusion, I define sustainability has making all decisions based of how they will impact the environment and future generations. In my opinion, sustainability is a life style. An individual has to have knowledge of the declining environment, motivation to change, and passion for the future of this earth. I want to take the lessons I have learned in this class and apply them when I get a real job out in the field.
One major takeaway from this class is the lesson and emphasis on empathic design. As an interior design, we are expected to design spaces that users feel connected to and with that, we have to step in the shoes of users and understand their likes and dislikes. I was able to understand more about empathic design when we completed the design probes package. In class, we were given another students package and with the information given, we were able to gather their likes and dislikes and certain things that were of value to them. After gathering this information, we were asked to create something for this individual, using the information given to us in the package. This exercise really opened my eyes to the fact that you do not need to personally know the user to successfully design something for them. If you know what makes them tick and things that would truly be useful to them, you can use creativity to create something they will value. The most important part of this exercise was asking the user, after they had been shown the idea, whether they would like it and what they would change about it. Most times, as designers, we design a space and leave right after and just hope that people will like it. I think it is important to go back and truly see if your design is being valued by the users. Ask what they would change and use their experiences with the space as a way to make the design even better next time. Another experience that I am thankful for in this class was the day we visited the botanical gardens and were asked to use nature as an influencing in solving environmental problems. A major takeaway I got from this trip to the gardens was the lessons I learned after taking a tree and its parts and using this as a sustainable solution. A tree is one of the most complex yet simple systems in nature. Trees are a critical part of keeping all of nature in sync; however, it manages to take care of itself and everything surrounding it without harming the environment. It uses the ideal closed loop cycle of taking waste, using it to benefit growth and nature and continues to do so, over and over again. Society as a whole should look up to trees and nature as a major role model. Lastly, I enjoyed learning more about a concept I had been introduced to prior to this class, and this topic is biomimicry. We see that the earth solves problems naturally all the time and without technology and money. Nature is such an amazing phenomenon and we need to start paying closer attention to natures tools because we will come to find out that nature can solve some serious world problems. Janine’s TED talk was something I really enjoyed because she gave examples on how we are taking tips from nature already. One example that I found very interesting was the beetle that uses its wings to collect water from fog. We then take this concept and apply it to buildings by using a coat on the exterior structure that collects water from fog. This is already one step in the right direction and if we continue in this manner, we will be on the right track to correcting all the damage we have created. All of these topics that I felt majorly influenced by in this class, are lessons that I can take with me when I become an interior designer in the real field. Overall, my journey in this class felt very fast paced but also beneficial. I learned something new every class and was encouraged to apply these topics to my field of interior design. Unlike many other classes I have taken, this class allowed for team work and collaboration with both my interior design peers, but also classmates that studied different fields.
After everything that I have learned in this class, I am now much more aware of different ways that we can interact with nature through design and use nature and its aspects as a design role model. This class really helped me advance my public speaking skills and I am very appreciative for this. As an aspiring interior designer, I am and will be constantly expected to present ideas and projects in front of clients and groups of designers. With that being said, this class allowed me to become more comfortable sharing ideas with the class and presenting solutions that my learning community and I developed together. This class did a very good job at teaching the students to design sustainably, whether it is designing interior spaces or pieces of clothing. I think this class does a very good job at touching every aspect of sustainability. Whether it be how we can advance our sustainable journey, how we, personally, can help the environment and how this lifestyle relates to all fields of design. I am very thankful for everything I learned in this class and am excited to use this motivation and passion in my future as an interior designer.