Tuesday, 30 November 2010

'CAN PEOPLE FEEL THE PAIN OF OTHERS' Article Review (Assignment 4)

‘Can People Feel The Pain Of Others’
Jacob Silverman

‘Can People Feel The Pain Of Others’ is an article about synesthesia. It exists to make others aware of the presence of synesthesia and its symptoms. Synesthesia is a cross wiring in the brain between the sensory receptors. This causes sufferers ‘ synesthesiacs’ to experience unusual sensory experiences very different to how a ‘normal’ person might perceive them.

The author suggests that a lot more of us are synesthesiacs than originally thought. He uses an example of a woman in a lecture on synesthesia who was surprised to discover that not everyone had the same sensory experiences as she did.

What’s really interesting about this article is that it shows that people who have cross wiring in the sensory part of their brain do experience the world in a different way. This is something that I believe is very important to my research into reality.

Silverman uses evidence of others research to discuss the developments in our understanding of synesthesia and the different types. The information he has collected is very focused on the most prominent characteristics of synesthesia. He is a writer and not a doctor or a scientist so he has no primary research into synesthesia. Although the author has found no conflicting sources of information he takes all the secondary research as fact and could be misunderstanding some information.

There are it seems four different types of synesthesia. These are colour-grapheme synesthesia, sound-colour synesthesia, word taste synesthesia and taste touch synesthesia, although Silverman states that there may be more he doesn’t mention a source for this which could point to holes in his research.
By only looking at a couple of sources concerning synesthesia Silverman could be missing a lot of information in his article, which could mislead his readers.

Silverman has successfully written a short informative article about synesthesia and its symptoms. He puts forward his information of the subject in a clear and focused way.

Monday, 29 November 2010


‘THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT’ is an insightful and exciting book which looks into the workings of the brain, and the strange things that can happen when a part of our brain, (that we possibly didn’t even know we had) stops working. It is a story of a collection of meetings with such patients.

Dr Sacks wants to show the reader the person and their identity and how this is affected by their brain disorder. He does this my talking about their brain problems in a congratulatory way. I believe he is questioning with this book, if we are what our brain makes us. Or can our identities still shine through even though we may not be able to over come some of the hindrances’ it places on us.

Because the author of this book is a physician who specializes in matters of the brain he backs up most of his statements with his primary research of the patients he speaks of in this book. Sacks is extremely aware of others in his field and surrounding fields and uses their studies and analysis to conclude his own findings. Sacks takes nothing for granted, as this is a book about pure primary research.

Sacks uses language throughout the book that respects the people he has studied in it. The come across as heroic human beings instead of freaks which could have easily happened. Sacks really know the importance of the self and even as a brain doctor can separate the self from the brain. I think we are forced to draw our own conclusion of this book through our selves and with our brain, very smart.

If we all thought like Dr Sacks we’d be great human beings and have a lot more respect for one another. He has the deepest respect for every one of his patients no matter how helpless they are. This is a book that really makes you stop and think about the world and the self, and yourself within the world. Humans are very complex beings and I don’t believe anyone will ever know fully how we work. Although this book comes close. The point of it isn’t to point and stare at a collection of freaks but to dwell on what they can teach us about others and ourselves. I recommend that everyone read this eye-opening book.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


I was listening to a podcast last night by 'stuff you should know' from 'www.howstuffworks.com' and they were talking about the 'lifestraw'. Id never heard of it before but it turns out its a life saving piece of product design!

I was horrified to hear that over 6,000 people die each day in developing countries because they don't have access to clean drinking water. We take for granted that we can turn on the tap and an endless flow of safe water will be available to us.

Lifestraw is not the answer to world thirst but it is a great step on the way to preserving life in these countries that need it. The lifestraw works by giving the user their own personal instant water purification system. The user can drink straight from streams, sucking up the dirty water whilst the lifestraw filters out all the dangerous bacterias and parasites which would usually have been ingested.

How it works:
  • Water passes through a mesh filter that removes the larger sediment and dirt. The holes in the filter are about 100 microns in diameter.
  • A polyester filter with a much smaller mesh of about 15 microns -- about a tenth of the diameter of a human hair -- catches bacteria.
  • The next step sends the water through iodine-coated resin beads. Iodine is a halogen (reactive nonmetal) that kills parasites, viruses and bacteria. These halogenated resin beads lie in a specially designed chamber that maximizes the exposure of pathogens to the iodine.
  • The water passes through an empty chamber.
  • The water is pulled through an active carbon filter to remove any taste left from the iodine and block any remaining pathogens. Carbon is the porous result of burned organic material and is activated by a special chemical process that makes it even more porous and more able to absorb impurities.
This product is literally saving lives! you can donate a lifestraw to a developing country at:


Thursday, 28 October 2010

Assignment 3 Meeting to Discuss Disertation Topics

We met on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the different topics we were thinking about exploring in our dissertations. Ive become extremely interested in reality and wither or not it exists. I have been reading a lot of books on the senses and a recurring theme is that our reality is only how we perceive it and having extra or damaged senses alters the sense of reality. I have decided to pursue this topic further in my dissertation.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Modern Age Phase 1

Through my research of the elderly I discovered that the main problem they face is not a physical problem, which I had originally assumed. The problem that affects most elderly people today is emotional.

"The general opinion amongst society these days is, when your old, your a burden" (Duncan Fitzpatrick, 80)

This ignorant attitude that most people have is ignoring the individual and making them lose their sense of identity.

Being 'shut away' in a care home or depending on support from a home help or family member for those who chose to stay at home, is upsetting for people who probably lived a very independent life.

This inspired me to design a product, environment or experience to give the elderly back their independence. The problem I faced was that some elderly people are not independent for a reason. Some would be putting themselves in danger to try to do certain activities. However some are very able. I began to think of ways I could get the elderly together in their communities and use each other’s strengths to give them their identities back.

I also discovered the importance of animals to the elderly. Not being able to have a pet any more is a distressing thing and many of the people i talked to wanted to own a pet. I also found a number of articles documenting the effects of animal on the elderly and their well being and found that being around animals boosts morale and improves mobility. I took this idea and developed a proposal of a community farm/petting zoo. I want the elderly to run the zoo and have the sole responsibility for the animals and grounds. I feel that this will give them a sense of independence.

I then went on to research designers and found some interesting creations. I was especially interested in looking into how others had utilised ramps and spaces for animals.

I began to sketch ideas for my design of the site. I discovered that the site i had chosen had originally been an old train yard, so I played around with the shapes of tracks intertwining to create my design.
This is my design so far and there is a lot more I want to accomplish. I relay want to explore the interior structure that i have created and show to my best ability users enjoying the project.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Environmental Sustainability and Design (Assignment1)

(Fig 1)
A sustainable environment provides all our needs without damaging the earth for future generations. Sustainability means providing for the present needs of society without depleting resources for use in the future. The environment is our eco system that we rely on to provide food for us now and in the future. Today’s world is lost in a consumer culture where we think of the needs and wants of the present but not our needs to come. This has resulted in a non-sustainable environment. An environment, which is beginning to feel the strain of its abuse.
The sudden need for us to take note has come with a change in world attitude. The western world has become a branded society consuming more than its share. We have been shaped into a consumer culture through advertising and manipulation (Century of the self, 2001). Edward Bernayse an influential character in the world of public relations and propaganda “the father of Public relations” used his uncle Sigmund freuds research into the subconscious and created a massive advertising manipulation campaign. One of his successful campaigns convinced woman who were discouraged to smoke by men at the time, to smoke. He did this by realizing that woman of the time wanted. Liberation, freedom and power. He hired a group of models to join the New York City parade and light up cigarettes in front of the media. This caused uproar. The very next day the title “torches of freedom” filled the papers and woman everywhere suddenly associated smoking with being free and powerful, which was what they subconsciously desired. Cigarette sales increased and the campaign was successful. This was one of the first incidences of mass manipulation. Its through this type of manipulation that according to Annie Leonard (Story of stuff, 2007)
“We have become a nation of consumers”.
The average person consumes twice as much as they did fifty years ago and shockingly 99% of consumable goods are waste product within 6 months of purchase. This is not completely our fault products nowadays are designed to be disposable. This is called planed obsolescence and it is a technique designers use to make products useless after a period of time in order to insure constant sales of products. Another reason for our increased waste is perceived obsolesance. This is linked to fashion and trends that the media enforce on us. Designers deliberately change the way items look frequently to make it obvious when your items are old. The added pressure from society is enough to make it perfectly acceptable to throw away working objects.
The constant disposal of these products has lead to the pollution of the earth. Each person in the USA produces approximately 4.5 lbs of waste per day (Story of stuff, 2007). This waste goes to landfill, or sometimes incineration and then landfill. This pollutes the earth, water and air, which has caused major changes in our climate (Ecological Impacts Of Climate Change, 2008). This is the cause of global warming, currently the biggest threat to our civilization. The USA alone admits to emitting 4000000000lbs of pollution per year. This severely damages our eco systems and will ultimately lead to the earth being unable to provide for our basic needs.
Climate change is dramatically changing our environment and the eco systems within the environment. It is making entire species of animals extinct, sea levels rise, temperatures rise, reducing oxygen levels and increasing co2 levels. (Ecological impacts of climate change, 2008). When animals become extinct it causes havoc in its eco system. One animal becoming extinct can easily eradicate another who feeds on it. Eco systems are delicate and major disruption like the extinction of an animal species can be catastrophic. One of our most diverse eco systems on earth is a corral reef. Corral provides a habitat for loads of different varieties of fish, whilst being a living organisim itself it can also act as protection for the shoreline. The rise in sea temperature has lead to its demise. This has been recorded in the reefs off Florida Keys and other tropical us waters. (Ecological impacts of climate change, 2008).
Sea levels are rising as a result of the polar ice cap melting. This is due to an increase in temperature globally of 0.6 to 0.2 degrees Celsius (Summary for Policymakers, 2001). This has dramatically affected animals that depend on the ice, Polar bears and Walruses. The ice’s area has decreased making it very difficult for them to hunt for prey and nurse their young. Walruses for example use the floating blocs of ice to look after their young and to dive from to feed of their prey on the bottom of the ocean. In 2007 the ice moved so far the water was too deep for them to feed. This resulted in the relocation of several thousand walruses to the beaches of Wainwright Alaska where they were in danger of exhausting the resources there, similar to the way we have exhausted the earth’s resources.
The Problem lies in the attitude towards sustainable design. While some people are happy to embrace change for a better future the simple fact is the consumer shouldn’t have to, or even have a choice to. Various industries have been producing goods for centuries without a second thought to their life cycle. Products in today’s system go through a wasteful process from extraction to production to distribution and finally disposal.
Designers have a major role to play in the redevelopment of our consumer-based world. The sustainable design forum encourages designers to influence consumer choices through their designs (27th June 2005 – Design and Sustainability a scoping report). In my opinion sustainability shouldn’t be a choice it should be a way of life and the norm for a finite planet.
Recycling can be a major help to reduce the amount of waste we produce and stop the extraction of new finite resources. However recycling rubbish at home would not solve the problem because for every one unit of waste you produce at home seventy units have been produced in the production process of the now waste goods(Story Of Stuff, 2007) This is where design can contribute. Up cycling is the process of converting waste material like plastics and glass into materials and products of higher quality. An example of this is Quentin, designers Ian Cardnuff and Hamid Van Koten designed a unique light shade from recycled newspaper and paper mill waste, which omits a beautiful warm tone (Fig 1). Up cycling is beneficial to the environment because it insures the constant reuse of extracted materials and adds opportunity for quirky designs. On the other hand designers need to be careful not to down-cycle. Down cycling is down grading the quality of a product, e.g. Office paper to toilet paper and it supports the idea that whilst the product has been reused it will ultimately become waste.
We can encourage sustainable production and products by designing with sustainability in mind. To do this we can specify sustainable materials in our designs and use sustainable production methods. Using local trade to reduce embodied energy costs of shipping materials half way round the world. Taking local eco systems into consideration and using appropriate material to support and benefit habitats.
Exciting discoveries in biomimicry have proved influential for design. Biomimicry is designing sustainably by taking inspiration from nature. Recently designers have used inspiration from shark scales to design a surface uninhabitable by bacteria. This innovative surface could dramatically improve heath by reducing the cross contamination of bacteria and also reducing the need for harmful chemicals, which are poisonous to the earth and us (Biomimicking Sharks, 2009).
Designers have the power to change the world we live in today. Whist we thrive of consumer culture we can be responsible about the choices we make through the design process from production to disposal. By changing the way we design we can change our impact on the earth indefinitely.

Braungart M. McDonough W. 2002 – Cradle to Cradle - North Point Press.
(Sustainable thinking and in depth analysis of the life cycle of our products)
Ecological Impacts Of Climate Change - (2008) - National Academies Press.
(Description of the recorded effects of climate change on eco systems)
Environmental Knowledge For Change - (2001) - Summary for Policymakers. http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc%5Ftar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/005.htm.
Fuad-Luke A. (2004) - The Eco Design Handbook (New Edition) - Thames and Hudson.
(eco design at its best, a selection of sustainable and eco designs)
Hubber J. (2009) - Biomimicking Sharks
Leonard A. Video (2007) - Story Of Stuff - Free Range Studios
http://www.storyofstuff.com/(Video discussing the facts of a consumer culture and detailed analysis of the cycle from extraction to disposal)
Lury C. (2009) - Consumer Culture
(Our current culture compared with past)
Lury C. (1996) - Brands, the logos of the global economy
(Study into the media and analysis of the brand)
Moore s. (2010) - Pragmatic Sustainability, Theoretical and practical tools.
(Leading industry thinkers tackle sustainability problems within architecture and design)
Papanek V. (1971) - Design for the real world.
(Blueprint for survival in the energy and resource deficient world of today)
Richardson J. Irwin T. Sherwin C. (27th June 2005) – Design and Sustainability a scoping report.
(Report on how design can contribute to the development of sustainable products)
The Century of the Self - video - broadcast (17, 24, 31 March 7th April, 2001) BBC2
(Investigation into the self, concerned with consumer culture and media influences)

Monday, 4 October 2010

Group Meeting (assignment1)

Meeting together to discuss homework

Mind Map on Environmental Sustainability and Design

For design studies this year we were put into groups of 8 from different disciplines within the art college. This turned out to be extremely beneficial. Having students from different disciplines is great for getting a different perspective on a subject. This became obvious when we each created a mind map of our chosen subject to write a 1000 to 1500 word essay on. Together as a group we contributed ideas to each other that we may never have thought of alone. My mind map on Environmental sustainability and design exploded with ideas as we talked about what each of us associate with the topic.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Assignment 5A + 5B, The Importance Of Research

The six degrees of separation is an interesting theory Mentioned in the book, the tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell. The theory suggests that everyone on this earth is connected to one another through 6 or less people. I became extremely interested in this topic and through research of my own became increasingly aware of the connections people form and how they are formed. Focusing on the way people connect with each other, how they form connections and identifying the people who connect others together was my main area of interest.

In semester two I investigated how to conduct primary research. I used a variety of different techniques to gather information about people, the way they behave, their cultural differences and how best to get the information you need. I wanted to use one of the skills I had learned in design studies semester two to research the way people connect with each other further.

Assignment one asked me to acquire photographs from a stranger and through deep analysis of those photographs, develop a profile of the person. The experiment was more successful than I had anticipated, as people are relatively easy to read. After a short discussion with the owner of the photographs it became clear that my assumptions had been correct. This is useful to my research because it can help me build a profile of someone and the people they have relationships with before meeting them. Unfortunately it doesn’t give me enough information.

Another way of using primary research to create a profile is using the method we used in assignment two. I chose a selection of 3 photographs and asked different people to create a story including the three images. To try and direct the stories to the same conclusion I added another picture and word. The differences in people’s stories told me a lot about their personality and cultural backgrounds. This was brought up in group discussions. A few classmates had put their pictures forward to exchange students who were from different cultural backgrounds. They seemed to take the pictures a different way and their stories were very different from the others. Using this technique to further add to the profile of a person under investigation would be useful to my research. It would help me develop questions for a possible interview to investigate the way they connect with the people around them. It doesn’t however tell me how they connect with the people around them.

Design Safari is the term used by Chris Downs the founder of Live|Work during a speech he gave at the New Views conference at London College of Communication in June of 2008. It is the observation of others in different situations concentrating on the way people act around each other, the etiquettes of a certain habitat and the way they act towards each other in different situations. By observing others you can make rather big assumptions about the relationships surrounding you. Body language, facial expressions and verbal communication can be read into to identify the different types of relationships surrounding you in any given situation. This is extremely useful to my research for investigating the way people connect with each other. I could get a real sense of someone’s feelings towards another by the way they act around them. Observing from a distance also makes sure I don’t influence any of their behavior, ensuring valid results. The main focus of my research is on the way people connect with others and while this method tells me a lot about the relationships and connections now, it doesn’t necessarily tell me how they formed.

This is where assignment four helps me. Interviewing is a very useful method of primary research. It could give me all the information I need about the people surrounding the subject and the different routs relationships have taken. By using some of the information on profiling gathered from the other research methods I can develop particular questions to ask. This would give me a much more detailed view of how connections have been made amongst people in the group. If I pick my questions carefully I should be able to form a map of the persons different relationships leading to the identification of the connectors within that group.

I would begin by asking them to tell me who the most important people in their lives are. I would then want to know how they got to know one in particular (focusing on a partner or best friend). If there was no one person who connected the two I’d move on until another name was mentioned. Then I’d need to discuss the type of relationship they had with this person and how they knew them. Id repeat this process until I had collected a web of information which made me able to map out the different relationships and identify people with leading roles within the persons life. It would be interesting to know how they felt about those people, if they are still in touch and if they knew how important they are to their friend circle. Are they even aware of the web of relationships that surround them?

Using my skills in primary research gained from design studies assignments in semester two has been extremely useful. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages and can be tailored to fit the specific needs of the investigation. I feel confident in my new skills and will use them in future to expand research for more in depth analysis.

Investigating how I can use my new found knowledge of primary and secondary research to enhance my design process has inspired me to apply the skills to my studio briefs.

In semester one, we were given a brief to design and make a piece of furniture from a set amount of wood. Working in groups we could base our design on what ever we wanted. My group chose to try to design a piece of furniture which would inspire the owner to hold on to it for as long as possible. We wanted to put the love back into furniture. Trying to stop people being so wasteful and throwing out furniture that was still in perfect working order just because it has gone out of fashion was no easy task. We began to investigate the things that people do hold onto for a long time so we could find out why and somehow incorporate it in our design. We soon discovered through interviews that people kept things that had sentimental value to them. The objects didn’t need to be expensive, fashionable or even useful. They just needed to have some sort of memory attached. It was interesting to us that that was enough for someone to see meaning in an object. Although we got a lot of information during our research, we could have got a greater insight by using the techniques for secondary and primary research developed this year in design studies.

Using a mind map would have been a great for getting an idea of all the different areas of furniture design there are. This would have helped us direct our thoughts on a particular piece of furniture we wanted to create, earlier on in the process. This would have given us more time for the construction stage. When working in a group it is difficult to remember everyone’s thoughts on the topic as well as your own. We could have used this same technique to log all our initial ideas and helped link them to each other. This would create a good atmosphere withing the group, having everyone’s ideas taken into consideration.

During the development of our research it would have been helpful to ask others for a selection of photographs of there homes over the years. By analyzing the pictures we could see if they had any objects that appeared frequently. Perhaps some family heir loom that they would never though out because of its sentimental value. We could also see what kind of furniture was important to them. Were they a family that used the kitchen a lot or was the lounge where they used the furniture the most? If we had a specific client this would have been extremely useful.

To asses the different attitudes that people have to furniture we could have used the skills we learned in assessment two of semester two. In this task we used photographs to evoke the subject into sharing the connotations they have of certain objects and places. Had we shown people pictures of old furniture and new we could have gathered information about public attitude. This would have been interesting to see if more people would have gone for a more fashionable piece or a piece of furniture with some history and meaning.

We learned in assignment three how to use the library database and cross search. Cross search has a huge amount of information, containing journals, books and articles on any given subject. By using the database we could have collected a lot more information from people who have investigated the area of sentimentality already. Had we used cross search we could have got a lot more information on the actual construction of a piece of furniture. Being naive we had underestimated how long and difficult the construction process is. We had to work extremely hard to get our piece finished for the deadline because we had used construction methods that were extremely time consuming. Making most of the furniture by hand was not the right decision as our skill let the piece down overall. Had we researched construction methods on the database we wouldn’t have made the initial design as complicated resulting in a much neater result.

Observation would have been an extremely useful primary research technique to use during this project in particular. We could have watched people using their furniture. Did they use a desk as a desk, or were they sitting on it? Is a chair used as a chair or a coat rack? What do different people use the furniture around them as, and was it its intended purpose? By observing the way people interact with furniture we could have designed the ultimate piece of furniture. Something that everyone would have a use for but not necessarily the same use. I think this would have radically changed our idea. Our piece of furniture would have been a lot more ambiguous and had more subtle multifunctional features.

Knowing what people want is extremely important when designing. You can’t design something if you don’t know what you are designing it for. Assignment four introduced us to the art of interviewing. By interviewing the people for whom our design was aimed at we could have developed a more detailed brief. I would have wanted to know what people want from a piece of furniture? And what would make them want to hold on to it longer? Would the price have come into the equation? Or is a sense of ownership the important factor? Does self-assembly make them feel part of the creation process? Knowing all of the above could have had a massive effect on the design of the furniture. Instead of guessing what people want we could have known for certain that what we were designing had purpose.

All in all design studies has proved the importance of good quality research. Secondary and primary research is extremely important in the design process. By using the right methods of research and exploring all ideas through mind maps, interviews, efficient use of resources and experiments designers can explore all aspects of the brief. My next studio brief will come to life through the use of these methods, taking the design process in every direction imaginable.


Baldwin Jonathan, Design Studies Handbook, 2008

Beach Michael, Blog, http://www.surfer056.blogspot.com/ , 2010

Downs Chris, http://www.livework.co.uk/

Gladwell Malcolm, The Tipping Point, Little Brown, 2000

Pachter Marc, The Art Of the Interview, Ted Talks, 2008

Friday, 26 March 2010

Learning To live Sustainably- how can design contribute ?

For most people the word “sustainable” has connotations of hard work, mud huts, low quality, and inferior life styles. It’s disappointing that something so important and influential has been marketed to people in such a way that it provokes a negative reaction. I believe that it is time we changed this distorted attitude and advertised the fact that sustainable design can be modern and inspiring. With the help of designers, reshaping the consumer world may not be as daunting as it first appears.

The problem lies in the attitude towards sustainable design. While a lot of people are happy to embrace change for a better future the simple fact is the consumer shouldn’t have to. Various industries have been producing goods for centuries without a second thought as to their life cycle. The irony of the life cycle of products at the moment is it’s linear—not a cycle at all. This means that products go through a wasteful process from extraction to production, distribution, consumption and finally to landfill or incineration.

Instead of taking resources from the earth, changing them by mixing them with chemicals, which then make the product unable to be reused or be returned to the earth, we should be adopting a “cradle to cradle” method so that everything that is taken from the earth is carefully manufactured so that at the end of its life cycle when it is no longer of use it can naturally biodegrade. In the book Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough and Michael Braungart discuss the possibility of our existence without a destructive presence. Some examples of “cradle to cradle” design are producing thriving businesses such as DESSO, a carpet manufacturer whose product, once used, are able to return its nutrients back to the earth.

Advances in technology have already changed the way we consume, instead of having to leave our homes to buy a product we can look it up on the internet and it can be delivered the next day. Why then can technology not also change the way we produce the things we consume so easily? Until now, perhaps because it has been seen as a cost; today, however, this view is increasingly being challenged. In an article by Reed business Information written by senior editor Kevin Campbell describes businesses that have had a positive reaction from turning their production methods green. Dr Alan Hecht, the director of sustainability at the US Environmental Protection Agency says in The road to sustainability “What I have found, what’s really happening the last five, ten years is that more and more companies are beginning to see sustainability not as a constraint but as a growth”

However it is not all the fault of the producers: we demand goods in massive quantities and at lower costs, but the industry arguably exploits this claiming simply to be responding to consumer demand. In the move towards sustainability, industry should take the lead. After all they do the most harm, and now with the most power they should be the ones to start the ball rolling.

It is understandable that industry is hesitant to adopt such a radical transformation because it is difficult to see the long term gains when very few others have taken the step to a sustainable future. Ray Anderson is the founder of Interface, an influential business in the field of sustainable production. Since 1995 his company has been trying to reduce their ecological footprint and make production sustainable. Their results have been nothing short of inspiring. They have managed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 82%, fossil fuel consumption by 60% and water usage by 70%, whilst increasing sales by two thirds and doubling their profits. The company intends to be carbon neutral by 2020 by following their plan, “mission zero”. Speaking at the TED 2009 conference, Anderson pointed out the “Business logic of sustainability”. He said “ Mission zero has been incredibly good for business. A better business model, a better way to bigger profits”. In their pursuit of zero waste they have produced a saving of £400,000,000 which more than paid off the original costs for their sustainable transformation. This is clear evidence that industry cannot deny and an extremely strong case for change.

However the process starts with designers. The designers should also be responsible. Everything that is produced by industry has to be designed, and I believe it is my job as a designer to ensure my designs make no negative impact on the Earth. I want to be in the generation of designers that people will look back on and thank for creating the tipping point for sustainable design. My university is extremely aware of the issues surrounding sustainability and makes sure the students are too. My lectures have consistently mentioned the importance of considering sustainability. My most recent project was entirely based around sustainable design. This has been a great influence and has resulted in a great passion for me. I wish I had been made aware of it at an earlier age as bad habits are hard to change.

There’s no reason why the quality of design should be compromised in the quest for sustainability. There are great examples of sustainable design that look modern and fulfill the needs of people today. The Berkshire residence in California is a completely sustainable home that hasn’t had to sacrifice smart modern architecture and luxurious interiors. Sustainable design is opening up new style for interior design, inspiring designs like “brail wall flats” designed by “inhabit living” which are made from 100% bamboo pulp. Bamboo is an extremely renewable source of material; according to research conducted by “green by design” it can grow up to two inches in an hour in the right conditions.

The advances in sustainable design are vast. The inspirational field of biomimicry is great design with great ideas from great sources. Biomimicry is designing by taking inspiration from nature and the way nature has been solving design problems sustainably for millions of years. Designers working in this way have developed self-cleaning surfaces for use on building exteriors inspired by the lotus flower’s ability to clean itself. They are combating disease by creating surfaces based on the design of sharks’ scales, which create an inhabitable surface for bacteria to occupy. It is being used in hospitals and toilets, ultimately saving lives.

I am helping to re-design the world, a revolution bigger than industrialization. The world of sustainable design doesn’t scare me, it inspires and excites me. I look forward to living in a healthy world with you all one day.


Anderson, Ray, “The business logic of sustainability”, Ted talks, 2009

Biomimicry Institute, Website, http://www.biomimicryinstitute.org/case_studies.php

Brown, Rachel, “Taking on the Sustainability Challenge”, May 2009

Campbell, Kevin, The road to sustainability. (cover story),Feb 2008

Gina Pobers-Grey and Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD, Off-Gassing: Indoor Pollutants and Allergies, March 2009

KUEHN ROBERT(Georgsmarienhuette Gmbh, Georgsmarienhuette, Deu) GECK HANS GUENTER(Georgsmarienhuette Gmbh) SCHWERDTFEGER KLAUS(Technische Univ. Clausthal, Clausthal-zellerfeld, Deu), SIJ Int (Iron Steel Inst Jpn) “Continuous Off-gas Measurement and Energy Balance in Electric Arc Steelmaking”, 2005

Re:Modern Sustainable modern living, website, http://www.re-modern.com

McDonough William, Braungart Michael, “Cradle To Cradle”, North Point Press, 2002

Olson A Margot, Ruff Caimen Leigh, “The attitudes of interior design students towards sustainability”, 2009