Who is sustainable? Querying the politics of sustainable design practices

Mazé, Ramia (2013) Who is sustainable? Querying the politics of sustainable design practices. In: Share This Book: Critical perspectives and dialogues about design and sustainability. Axl Books, Stockholm, Sweden, pp. 83-124. ISBN ISBN (Print) 9789186883140 ISBN (E-book): 9789186883195

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Design, formulated as a discipline concerned with form and problem-solving, may seem preoccupied with matters other than those of politics and the political. Traced through a history of the fine arts, for example, the concerns of design include aesthetic expression and material form. As a liberal art, design is arguably a discipline that synthesizes knowledge from across the natural and social sciences and applies it to solving complex technical and social problems. These dimensions of design are apparent in its expanding roles in sustainable development―for example, in expressing lifecycle information about products, changing energy consumption behavior, rethinking transportation or food services, and steering decision-making processes in communities or companies. Amended as 'sustainable', design is repositioned from being part of the problem of unsustainable development. However, preoccupied with forms or solutions, design is not always attentive to its political dimensions. How, by, and for whom sustainability is formulated are political questions to be discussed within discourses and practices of sustainable development―and sustainable design. Such questions are at stake in critical studies and critical practices of design. Reflecting here on design examples from my own work and that of others, I articulate a series of such questions inspired by critical theory and political philosophy. These open a discussion of the roles of design in sustainable consumption and sustainable communities, in which it is profoundly implicated in the reorganization of everyday life. Combining reflections and examples, the graphic form of this article reflects an interweaving of theory and practice, the materiality of academia and the criticality of design.

Item Type:Book Section
Additional Information:The book is available in a limited print edition and as an electronic book (Creative Commons license) - see the URLs listed for details.
ID Code:5481
Deposited By:Ramia Maze
Deposited On:01 Apr 2013 15:24
Last Modified:14 Nov 2013 14:05

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