Sustainable Aphorisms

2009-03-09 00:00:00 +0000 — MFA Studio, Baltimore, MD

Agility Change must happen fast—but raw speed alone is not enough. The rapid growth of industrialism got us into this mess; quick, precise and nimble actions now will get us out of it.

Brevity There shall be no unnecessary parts, words, decorations or pieces. This does not mean decoration and elaboration cease existing, only that there shall be nothing extraneous—every decision must count. The craft movement achieves this in one sense, modernism another???

Constraint This is the realm of restriction, of stipulations, of specifications. Defined at the outset, limitations can guide a solution. Not to be confused with Sacrifice (which is reactive and loss-based), constraint analyzes available options.

Equilibrium Harmony and balance amongst all parts of commerce, nature, technology and society must be achieved. No concern can be sacrificed for the sake of another. This is also in reference to all interests of form, content, and context in the design of an object.

Flexibility There will be no perfect approach—the future will unfold in unpredictable ways. We must allow adaptive reuse and be willing to change as needed to fit circumstances.

Meaning All great works that elicit response share one thing in common: they mean something. We must focus on intent, purpose, and substance—the context—in addition to form and function.

Quality Better, happier and more fulfilling: This is what quality shall mean in sustainable design. The aim is to provide this to everyone in elegant, elemental ways.

Services We want the functions objects provide, not the objects themselves. To do this our needs, appliances, and tools must be approached in terms of “services, not stuff” and “use, don’t own.” The idea of services is against intentional obsolescence and for reusability and repairability.

Systems Our current systems are out of date and faulty. It is pointless to waste energy attempting to resolve designs within these systems. The creation and exploitation of new, better systems will be the main directive for sustainable design.

Time Allowing time to pass opens the door to adaptability and evolution. Besides learning about a designs good and bad points over time, we must also argue over the questions of durable vs. ephemeral. A car is a durable object, and should be constructed as such, while a candy-bar wrapper is not. If we ask upfront how long we want an object to last we can make each design decision an answer to the question.

Afterthought: These are what became “The Sustainabilitist Manifesto.”