Design & SimulationJanuary 24, 2020

Humans, in harmony with Nature

  Victor Papanek, an early advocate of design’s social and ecological responsibilities,…
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Anne Asensio

Victor Papanek, an early advocate of design’s social and ecological responsibilities, says in his book Green Imperative that

“These dangerous times for Earth call not just for passion, imagination, intelligence and hard work, but – more profoundly – a sense of optimism that is willing to act without a full understanding.” While science relies on facts and scientific prediction, design relies also on optimism and faith in the effect of small individual actions on the global picture.

I, for one, believe that Design is imperative in finding solutions that enable us, humans, to co-exist in harmony with nature and the biosphere.

Design is changing quickly, with the belief that a more respectful and joyous relationship with the material world can only be established by being an integral part of it. This heightened awareness moves design from a culture of “creating in the absence of limits” to a culture of “creating in a limited world.” This change of perspective currently underway in our society calls for a profound change in our relationship to the material and immaterial worlds and concerns everyone involved in design, production and consumption.

Design embraces the cross-fertilization of disciplines, of sensitive, forward-looking and crosscutting research likely to question the future of our contemporary society. Designers propose new approaches that are simultaneously sustainable, tangible and negotiable. They offer scenarios for change through heterogeneous projects, projections for the future, speculative gestures and technologically sophisticated ideas.

Design is an integrated discipline because it affects human experience directly — thinking, doing, experimenting and testing in recurrent iterations, without separating these activities. Industry with its search for performance and efficiency led to hyper-specialization and siloed processes designed for optimization; but these old siloed approaches to design, research and development are no longer adequate. The consequence has been a fragmented design approach, diminishing design’s value by disconnecting its great holistic and systemic promise.

Design as a bridge translates scientific ideas and discoveries into real-world applications. It is critical to enable design to imagine breakthrough models that revolutionize how we live, work and play.

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