Design Responsibility

While researching more about construction waste related to interior design, I’ve found out that construction waste contributes greatly to the pollution of the land, air, and water. At the beginning of the class, I wanted to research and write about construction waste specifically in the hospitality industry. The reason I wanted to write about that topic specifically was because I’ve learned that hotels are the most frequently renovated building type. Hotels constantly aim to have updated interiors, so every few years they demo and redo the interiors even though their current finishes and furniture are in good shape. Because many materials can’t be sustainably recycled, the industry ends up producing a lot of waste. As I looked into researching the topic more, I found that there is very very little research done about waste from the hospitality industry. Because I had trouble finding that information I decided to switch my focus to construction waste in general. The broader topic is more of a complex wicked problem. One of the reasons sustainable construction and demolition is not widespread is because it is very expensive to use the more complex sustainable methods.

The reading on the connection between poverty and environmental degradation focused on the way poverty adds to the pollution of the earth because people do not have access to sustainable systems and ways of life. People in poverty are not responsible for the effects on the environment they contribute to because there is no other option. After discussing the article with my group in class, we thought that people that are more privileged like in the United States are the ones that need to carry the burden for a more sustainable world. Developed countries lead the world, especially in technology, and what we develop here will affect the whole world. If we can create sustainable technologies and practices to share with less developed countries, it can help to solve the problem of unsustainable practices all over. The idea of designers developing products for better green end use was the main point in Leyla Acaroglu’s TED talk. She is a designer and consultant who works with companies to have a more sustainable practice. The main point in her TED talk was related to the reading about poverty and environmental degradation because she emphasized the importance of designing for a better world overall. An example that she gave in her talk was of a tea kettle that she helped design. Rather than making the kettle cheaper and more marketable, she helped to design it to hold less water and use less energy, so that the end user can use it sustainably. It is important to recognize that the responsibility of sustainability does not just lie on individuals to make small changes, it is most important for large companies and organizations to push for sustainable practices.

One way that I can help design for a more sustainable future is to use biophilia in interior design. Biophilia is an appreciation and affinity for the natural world, and in interior design that translates to using certain techniques to take inspiration from nature. Biophilia can be useful and effective because it connects a person more to nature even in their architecture. As we talked about earlier in the class with mindfulness, if people are more connected to nature, they will feel more of a responsibility to care for the earth instead of harming it. Another advantage of biophilia is using established design patterns that are naturally efficient and work well for human environments. Incorporating biophilic design in interiors and architecture can elevate a design and make peoples’ experiences in the built environment much better.

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