Sustainability and design education: from products to practices

DS 59: Proceedings of E&PDE 2009, the 11th Engineering and Product Design Education Conference - Creating a Better World, Brighton, UK, 10.-11.09.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Clarke, A, Ion, W, McMahon, C and Hogarth, P
Author: Marchand, Anne
Series: E&PDE
Page(s): 436-440


The first and main part of this paper discusses the importance for the field of design for sustainability to encompass approaches that both consider the notions of eco-efficiency and sufficiency. The implications of a greater integration of these two notions or principles in design education-the former being more directly related with production issues, and the latter being more closely linked with consumption and lifestyles-are explored. The paper stresses that, in order to more significantly contribute to the project of a sustainable, viable future, designers will increasingly need to be skilled in proposing concepts that move from product-focused to practice- or use-focused solutions. It emphases that, within a sustainable perspective, design education curriculum should support "rethinking" approaches that go beyond "redesigning". The second part of the paper introduces an undergraduate design studio aimed at supporting this shift. The design of the studio itself invites students to define the object of their project by conducting fieldwork research to identify practices and habits of life that are problematic from an ecological point of view, or practices that cannot be supported. The structure of the studio also encourages students to frame their project in terms of what it is that the design solution has to do or to support, in contrast to directly premising the project on the redesign of a given product.

Keywords: Design for sustainability, design education, context-focused approach, efficiency, sufficiency, sustainable consumption.


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