Viktor Papanek’s classic book on sustainable design. The second edition was published in 1985, so many of the concepts are dated, but nonetheless still provides a solid foundation for sustainable design.
There are many professions more harmful than industrial design but only a few of them. And possibly one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today.
Design must become an innovative, highly creative, cross disciplinary tool responsive to the true mans of men. It must be more research oriented, and we must stop defiling the earth itself with poorly designed objects and structures.
Design: the planning and patterning of any act toward a desired, foreseeable end constitutes the design process.
Design is also cleaning, reorganizing a desk drawer, pulling an impacted tooth, baking an apple pie, choosing sides for a backlot baseball game, and educating a child.
Because design as a problem-solving activity can never, by definition, yield one right answer: it will always produce an infinite number of answers, some “righter” and some “wronger.” The “rightness” of any design solution will depend on the meaning and which we invest the arrangement.
Method: The interaction of tools, process, and materials. An honest use of materials, never making the material seem which is not, is good method. Materials and tools must be used optimally, never using one material where another can do the job less expensively, more efficiently, or both.
Use: “Does it work?” A vitamin bottle should dispense pills singly. An ink bottle should not tip over. A plastic-film package covering sliced pastrami should withstand boiling water, yet open easily. Because in any reasonably conducted home, alarm-clocks seldom travel through the air at speeds approaching five hundred miles per hour, streamlining clocks is out of place.
Need: The economic, psychological, spiritual, social, technological, and intellectual needs of a human being are usually more difficult and less profitable to satisfy than the carefully engineered and manipulated “wants” inculcated by fad and fashion.
Important values of real things have been driven out by phony values of false things, a sort of Gresham’s Law of Design.
Telesis: The deliberate, purposeful utilization of the process of nature and society to obtain particular goals. The telesic content of a design must reflect the times and conditions that have given rise to it and must fit in with the general socioeconomic order in which it is to operate.
Association: Our psychological conditioning, often going back to earliest childhood memories, comes into play and predisposes us to, or provides us with antipathy against, a given value.
Aesthetics: Because there is no ready yardstick for the analysis of aesthetics, it is simply considered to be a personal expression fraught with mystery.
The self-assertive greed of corporations has given us strips of quick-food restaurants in every town or sizable village in the United States. The societal and social consequences are clear: a destabilization of the family, new eating patterns that frequently result in obesity and dietary deficiencies, a debasement of the human palate forced to find the lowest common denominator, and finally a ready acceptance of horrendous garnishes and visual pollution.
If the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the Industrial Designer has failed. If, on the other hand, people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient—or just plain happier—the designer has succeeded.
Design during the depressed manipulated visual excitement over long-term usefulness.
Honest design: design-in-use versus design-in-sales.
Post WWII: industry pandered to the public’s ready acceptance of anything new, anything different. The miscegenation of technology and artificially accelerated consumer whims gave birth to the dark twin of styling and obsolescence.
Type of obsolescence: technological (a better or more elegant ways of doing things is discovered.
-Material (the product wears out);
Artificial (the death-rating of a product, either the materials are substandard and will wear out in a predictable time span, or else significant parts are not replaceable or repairable.)
The third world war will start in the Third World. It will be a war of desperation by peoples forced into a position where they have nothing to lose.
The designer is in a position where difficult moral and ethical choices have to be made. Some have sold out to an employer and continue to design luxury items for a small privileged class. Others have accepted my suggestion and contribute one-tenth of their time or one-tenth of their income to solving problems of abject need, while continuing with their jobs.
There are few who have dropped out of design entirely and found that living and working a farm or cooking decent meals for a restaurant are more acceptable to them than turning out objects for a wasteful society.
No longer does the artist, craftsman, or in some cases the designer operate with the good of the consumer in mind; rather, many creative statements have become highly individualistic, autotherapeutic little comments by the artist to himself.
When everything becomes possible, when all the limitations are gone, design and art can easily become a never-ending search for novelty, until newness-for-the-sake-of-newness becomes the only measure.
Man lives today as much in the environment of the machine as the machine lives in the environment of the man.
Every five years America’s art schools graduate more people than lived in Florence in the last quarter of the 15th century, and that there probably are more galleries than bakeries in New York.
–College credit in “art” has been given for photographing 650 San Diego garages, and for spending a week in a gym locker ( a work—or act—of art called “a duration-confinement-body-piece.)
–The broadened definition of art to include anything, as well as making anything, is a triumph of democracy: Everyone can be—indeed, cannot help but be—an artist.
If everyone is an artist, when everything is art, there can be no avant-garde.
Design is a luxury enjoyed by a small clique who form the technological, moneyed, and cultural “elite” of each nation.
Our inner cities and rural areas, the educational tools we use in over ninety percent of our school systems, our hospitals, doctor’s offices, diagnostic devices, farm tools, and so forth, suffer design neglect.
Being designers, we can pay by giving ten percent of our crop of ideas and talents to the 75% of mankind in need. It is unimportant what the mechanics of the situation are: four hours out of every forty, one working day out of every ten, or ideally, every tenth year, to be spent as a sort of sabbatical, designing for many instead of designing for money.
From the end of World War II until 1978 car manufacturers sold the American public on the concept that it is stylish to change cars every three years.
That which we throw away, we fail to value.
When we design and plan things to be discarded, we exercise insufficient care in design, in considering safety factors, or thinking about work/user alienation from ephemeral trivia.
During 1977 the American automobile industry recalled more cars than it sold.
When a new category of objects is consciously designed for disposability, two new parameters must enter the design process: for one thing, does the price of the object reflect its ephemeral character? Ie. disposable surgical gloves that come on a roll like toilet paper.
–The second consideration concerns what happens to the disposable article after it has been disposed of.
Biodegradable materials (i.e., plastics that become absorbed into the soil, water runoff, or air) will have to be used more and more in the future.
The concept of ownership, as it applies to cars, homes, and large appliances in a highly mobile society, becomes a fiction.
Most design offices in 1984 still view their ideal client as between eighteen and twenty-five, middle-income, active, exactly six feet tall, and weighing exactly 175 pounds.
Great chair: the director’s chair—scissor legged wooden construction with slip=on seats, and back, made of No. 8 duck, with a 300-pound test strength. Weighs less than 15 pounds and is foldable, surprisingly comfortable with no cushion or pads.
–Ease of maintenance, easy storage and portability, no concessions to status, and a low price.
In 1934, the Museum of Modern Art in New York published a book Machine Art, showing 397 “aesthetically valid” designs. Of the 397, 396 have failed to survive.
–Only the chemical flasks and beakers made by Coors of Colorado survived.
Mies van de Rohe’s Barcelona Chair was designed in the twenties. Knoll International revived the chair in the fifties, sold it (only in pairs) at $750 each; It has since, at $2,000 each (1984) —today (2011) $5000+
Dr. Peter Schlumbohm –Chemex Coffee Maker; Chemex was a way of doing things better, more simply, and through nonelectric, usually nonmechanical, means.
It is monopoly agreements and price-fixing that result in a hearing aid consisting of an earpiece and a pocket-sized amplifier, which cost around $10 to product, to retail for $750.
The aged need furniture that is easy to get into or out of. This furniture should be low in cost, easy to clean, and easy to maintain.
The alternative to doing things faster is always to slow down.
DynaShip – sailing ship with electronics controlling the sails.
### Part II: How it Could Be
The most important ability that a designer can bring to his work is the ability to recognize, isolate, define, and solve problems.
Our ways of thinking can be divided into various modes. There is analytical thinking (How long will it take me to drive from here to there, assuming a heavy rainstorm and stopping for lunch?). We engage in judgmental thinking (which of these three steaks looks rarest?) and routine thinking (Given a specific temperature for the tempering of a steel alloy, what thickness is required to hold up a bridge.
The Creative act: “Perceiving a situation or idea in two self-consistent but mutually incompatible frames of reference or associative contexts.
We have made our severest mistake in confusing conformity in action with conformity of thought.
Mousetraps: what is the real problem here? To catch the mice or get rid of them?
Most people live and die without ever having to solve a totally new problem. Do you wonder how to make the bicycle stand up? Daddy will show you. Do you wonder how to put the plumbing in your new house? The plumber will show you.
List of Inhibitors keeping us from solving tasks in interesting ways:
1. Perceptual Blocks: As the name implies, these inhibitors lie in the area of perception.
2. Emotional Blocks: In a society that values conformity, people readily learn that “you don’t stick your neck out,” and “you don’t rock the boat.”
3. Association Blocks: Associational blocks operate in those areas where psychologically predetermined sets and inhibitions, often going back to our earliest childhood, keep us from thinking freely. Ex. Ping-pong ball in tube.
4. Cultural Blocks: these are imposed upon a society by his cultural surrounding. And in each society a number of taboos endanger independent thinking.
5. Professional Blocks: professional training may establish crippling blocks.
6. Intellectual Blocks: Over-intellectualization frequently keeps us from recognizing the nub of a problem and makes it difficult to choose the best method for reaching a solution.
7. Environmental Blocks: the extent at which the environment influences your problem solving behavior (varies from person to person)
These blocks are the direct result of the constantly accelerating rat race toward conformity and so-called adjustment.
This rat race is not only unfavorable to all true design creativity but, in a wider sense, violates the very survival characteristics of the human species.
The various blocks are not inherited parts of the personality structure but rather learned, limiting, and inhibiting factors.
Dealing with the Blocks:
1. Brainstorming: The emphasis in a brainstorming session is quantity over quality. The team members are asked to suspend their judgment sense during the actual working session.
It is assumed that if only one solution to a problem exists, the originator will always feel protective towards it. Should it later prove unworkable, he or she will be blocked from contributing new insights by unconsciously attempting to merely ring variations on the original thought. Since no idea can be prejudged, an enormous quantity of ideas is generated.
2. Synectics: A synectics team, unlike brainstorming, requires a strong team leader; furthermore, team membership is permanent, and the members of the team are carefully chosen to represent at least two disciplines each.
3. Morphological Analysis: Individual problem solving, matrix cube.
4. Sliding Scales:
5. Bioassociation: A simple chart with the object to be designed listed to the left of the vertical line. To the right six or seven “response words,” that is, nouns arbitrarily picked from a dictionary or provided by a coworker, are written down. It is important that these nouns not be connected to the designer’s mind with the object under design consideration. Then they are classified:
Now / 2-5 Years / 5-10 years / R & D / Gimmicks
All that this bioassociation technique accomplishes is to externalize the process by making a list. Without the list, the mind begins to wander.
8. Forcing New Thinking Patterns: By repeatedly facing students and young designers with problems far enough removed from everyday reality so as to force them into entirely new thinking patterns (new cortical associations), by constantly pointing out to them the nature of the various blocks, it is possible to help them realize their creative design potential.
Ex. Arcturus IV Project.
To “sex-up” objects (designer’s jargon for making things more attractive to mythical consumers) makes no sense in a world in which basic need for design is very real.
Education in all other areas is a matter of increasing vertical specialization. Only in industrial and environmental design is education still horizontally cross-disciplinary.
The design of any product unrelated to its sociological, psychological, or ecological surroundings is no longer possible or acceptable
That the design of products and environments must be accomplished through interdisciplinary teams.
That such an interdisciplinary team must also included end-users (consumers), as well as the workers that make the things designers design.
That biology, bionics, and related fields offer rewarding new insights to designers. Designers must find analogues, using biological prototypes and systems for design approaches culled from such fields as ethnology, anthropology, and morphology.
Today bionics is concerned not so much with the form of parts or the shape of things but rather with the possibilities of examining how nature makes things happen, the interrelation of parts, the existence of systems.
Bats find their way in the dark through an echo location method: they emit a high-pitched sound that bounced off objects in their path, is picked up by their sensible ears, and thus established an unencumbered flight path for them. Much the same principles are used in radar and sonar. Sonar uses audible sound waves; radar used ultra high frequency waves.
If the industrial revolution gave us the mechanical era (a comparatively static technology of movable parts), if the last hundred years have given us a technological era (a more dynamic technology of functioning parts), then we are now emerging into a biomorphic era (an evolving technology permissive of evolutionary changes.)
With 168,000 species of insects in North America there is six to eight times as much insect protein living in a forty-acre field as beef protein represented by grazing cattle thereon. Actually, we do eat flies; it’s just that we process them through grass, cows, and milk first.
Bionic application never means copying by establishing a visual analog. Rather, it means searching out the basic, underlying organic principle and then finding an application.
Electricity, after all, is never defined but is described by function; its value being expressed in terms of relations—the relation between voltage and amperage, for instance. Still, people identify themselves as electrical engineers, or electricians, seemingly without any loss of identity.
Industrial and environmental design, too, can be expressed only as a function; its value, for instance, being expressed in terms of relations: the relation between human ability and human need.
Fashion design is much like automotive styling in Detroit: applying Band-Aids to cancerous sores. Women have been permanently disabled by wedges, elevator shoes, stiletto heels, and pin heels.
There are genuine needs here as well: the design of clothes for handicapped children and adults making it possible for them to dress themselves—resulting in greater pride and self-confidence.
Little or no clothing is designed for the elderly, the obese, people who are unusually short or very tall.
Industry uses such “creative packaging” –this, it is useful to note, is also the name of a magazine addressed to designers—in order to sell goods that my be shabby, worthless, or just low in cost, at grossly inflated prices.
In 1981 Americans for the first time paid more for the packaging that contained their food than was paid to farmers as net income, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.
A beer can (or bottle) costs five times as much as the beer it holds.
A potato chip bad, table syrup bottle, chewing gum wrapper or soft drink bottle cost twice as much as the foods they contain.
A breakfast cereal package, soup can, frozen food box, baby food jar, or dessert box costs one-and-one-half times as much as the foods inside.
It is a fact that the designer often has greater control over his work than he believes he does, that quality, new concepts, and an understanding of the limits of mass production could mean designing for the majority of the world’s people, rather than for a comparatively small domestic market.
Design for the people’s needs rather than for their wants, or artificially created wants, is the only meaningful direction now.
Companies routinely overcharge government purchasing agencies by percentages that are incredibly high. Before a Senate Subcommittee investigating overcharges by manufactures to Air Force purchasing agents, a simple hexagon Allen wrench was shown (a three-inch-long piece of six sided wire bent to a right angle at one end). This sells to the public for 12cents. With one-eighth of an inch cut off and a 1 cent rubber grip slipped on, the same vendor sells the tool to the United States Air Force at $9,602 each!
A thin steel wire, about three inches long, was also shown. This wire sells for 1cents per yard, hence the retail price of a four inch chunk is about one twelfth of a penny each. However industry sells this plain wire to the Air Force for $7,417 each under the formidable title Antennae Motor Safety Alignment Pin!
The rethinking of “dishwashing” as a system might make it easier to clean dishes, as well as solving one of the basic survival problems: water conservation. To this add: industrial water waste, toilets, showers.
Basing my thinking on Frank Lloyd Wright’s “gravity heat,” that is the fact that a warmed floor will reduce temporary and permanent heat requirements in a room.
How it could be: 1. Design for the Third World
2. Design of teaching and training devices for the retarded, the handicapped, and the disabled
3. Design for medicine, surgery, dentistry, and hospital equipment
4. Design for Experimental Research (laboratories at honest costs)
5. Systems design for sustaining human life under marginal conditions (jungles, arctic, etc.)
6. Design for Breakthrough concepts
Pollution through products:
1. Natural resources are destroyed; moreover, these resources are usually irreplaceable
2. The very destruction of these resources by strip-mining, open-pit mining, and so forth, creates a pollution phase (1 and 2 form phase I).
3. The manufacturing process itself creates more pollution (phase II)
4. The same manufacturing process also brings about worker alienation and anomie (breakdown of standards).
5. Packaging (this is essentially a repetition of phases I and II)
6. The use of the product creates more pollution and user alienation and user anomie (phase III)
7. Finally, discarding the product creates even more lasting sources of pollution (phase IV)
Working with Scandinavian, as well as foreign guest workers, we found that we could improve job performance and lessen alienation by abandoning assembly lines and introducing team assembly, complete job rotation, leaning various skills and languages on company time, and so on. If such work techniques are operated in the most technologically advanced countries, then they can also be built into countries that are not full industrialized.
Design, to be ecologically responsible, must be independent of concern for the gross national product (no matter how gross that may be).
As technology develops ways to utilize the vast amounts of solar energy stored in tropical forest plants each day, these forests could generate as much energy in the form of methanol and other fuels, as almost half the world’s energy consumption from all sources in 1970.
The answer to worldwide transportation needs must inevitably lie in a complete rethinking of transportation as a system, as well as rethinking each component of that system.
According to Frank Lloyd Wright, scale was the greatest threat to social meaning. As early as the forties he wrote: “Little forms, little homes for industry, little factories, little schools, a little university going to the people mostly by way of their interest…little laboratories.
Edward T. Hall, in his studies of proximities and human spacing, has shown that types and size of seating units used in contemporary terminals so strongly violate Western concepts of spacing that fully one-third of them are empty at any given time. This holds true even when the building is unusually crowded: many people refer standing or pacing to being brought into too close proximity with strangers.
People begin to take interest in limiting the size of their families only after they are secure, have achieved human dignity and purpose, and are no longer beset by anxiety and fears of hunger, poverty, ignorance, or disease.
The Malthusian doctrine says food can never keep up with population growth. But this simple formula has just two factors: soil and population. Science, design, planning, research are completely left out.
–Agricultural irrigation, scientific crop rotation, biological pest control, conservation, reforestation, selective breeding of stock animals—these are the fruits of science that modify agricultural thinking.
High-technology countries—especially the United States—live under the mistake idea that, since they are the world’s largest producers of food and have the most mechanized agriculture, this will guarantee the highest yield per acre. This is not true.
–Smaller countries, trying to reduce money for food imports, achieve significantly higher yields per acre than the United States.
–1977 FAO Production Yearbook: U.S. reports that 1,660 pounds of grain per acre are achieved on U.S. Wheat farms. Holland: 5,107 per acre
–U.S. Rice 4,434 per acre / Japan 5,200 / Spain 5,607
–England and Belgium 100,000 tomatoes per acre –triple the U.S.
Food losses after harvest run as high as 80 percent in the diet deficient countries, due largely to poor storage and processing. Microorganisms, insects and rodents are the main cause of food loss after harvest.
Rats consume 16 times more food than humans per body weight; In India rates eat 30% of stored grains; in some countries as much as 60%. One-third of all harvested cereals in Africa are lost to rodents.
Because of poor and outdated equipment, lack of refrigeration and inefficient transport, 50% of marketed fruits and vegetables are lost in the hungry nations, where most perishables must be eaten within 24 hours of harvest.
No environment can strongly affect a person unless it is strongly interactive. To be interactive, the environment must be responsive, that is, must provide relevant feedback to the learner. For the feedback to be relevant, it must meet the learner where he is, then program (that is, change in appropriate steps at appropriate times) as he changes. The learner changes (that is, is educated) through his responses to the environment.
The main troubles with design schools seems to be that they teach too much design and not enough about the ecological, social, economic, and political environment in which design takes place.
Real changes—basic changes—mean retooling or rebuilding; the costs are prohibitively high. But to repaint and rearrange surfaces (interior or exterior) is just as exciting to a manipulate public and can be done on the cheap.
–Thus, the vital working parts of a mechanism (the guts of a toaster, for instance) may remain unchanged for decades while surface finish, exterior embellishments, control mechanisms, sin color and texture undergo yearly mutations.
Throughout most of human history materials, being organic, have aged gracefully. Thatched roofs, wooden furniture, copper kettles, leather aprons, ceramic bowls, for example, would acquire small nicks, scratches, and dents, gently discolor, and acquire a thin patina as part of the natural process of oxidation.
The “skin” designers (Detroit’s stylists) disdainfully avoid the “guts” designers (engineers and research people); form and function are artificially split. But neither a creature nor a product can survive long when its skin and guts are separate.
We must see man, his tools, environments, and ways of thinking and planning, as a nonlinear, simultaneous, integrated, comprehensive whole. This approach is integrated design. It deals with the specialized extensions of man that make it possible for him to remain a generalist.
If we speak of integrated design, of a design-as-a-whole, of unity, we need designers able to deal with the design process comprehensively. Lamentable, designers so equipped are not yet turned out by any school. Their education would need to be less specialized and include many disciplines now considered to be only distantly related to design, if related at all.
Integrated design is not a set of skills, techniques, or rules but should be thought of as a series of functions occurring simultaneously rather than in a linear sequence.
Chronically, we have failed to distinguish the means from the end, and we have mad mechanical what should have remained manual and have made automatic that which might have been more rationally replaced with an entirely different system.
A good example of such wasted energy is the automatic gearshift. The energy used by a driver when shifting fears is incomparably smaller than the energy expended in manufacturing the automatic shift, not to mention the energy required to supply the factory and the automobile with the additional raw materials and man-hours required to make it.
Industry and the professions tell us every day that they need students with a broader general background. The highly specialized student will often get that first job fairly easily. But over the next five or ten years he or she will fall by the wayside as those with the ability to synthesize and bring wider experiences to bear on the social dimensions of design and architecture are continually promoted.
The academic desperation toward specialty becomes worrisome when we remember that the price a species pays for specialization usually turns out to be extinction.
Young designers have been propagandized into the concept of the lonely, struggling genius, the individual problem-solver. Reality does not bear this out. Most working designers today find themselves part of a team (like it or not).
A general case statement might be: “Design something to help in developing countries!”
–The student now has to do a good deal of research from various sources and disciplines. Eventually he may narrow down the choices to the special-case concept “bicyclelike power source.”
–But to get this far we will unavoidably find out much about the whole field of research with many spinoffs and spillovers and thus again find many general-case solutions and applications.
–It is specifically this type of problem that is almost never set in school, since it is slow and—without strong guidance—can become frustrating.
Since so many factors and variables are involved (more than can possibly be kept in mind), the simplest solution is to externalize it by constructing a flow chart. A flow chart may be a large roll of brown wrapping paper pinned across an entire wall, listing all the various aspects needed in analyzing a design.
Work Flow of design jobs:
1. Assemble a design team representing all relevant disciplines, as well as members of the client group.
2. Establishment of a primary flow chart
3. Research and fact finding phase.
4. Completion of the first half of the flow chart
5. Establishment of the second half of the flow chart: what to do
6. Individual, buddy-team, or team design, and development of ideas.
7. Checking these designs against the goals established in the flow chart, and correcting both designs and flow chart in the light of these experiences.
8. Building of models, prototypes, test models, or working models.
9. Testing these by the relevant user-group.
10. Test results are now fed into the flow chart.
11. Redesign, retesting, and completion of the design job, together with whatever written reports, graphic communication, statistical support data, or working drawings are necessary.
12. The flow chart is then preserved, to be used as a follow up guide in checking actual in-use performance characteristics of the designed objects. After this the flow chart is filled; it is to be used as a guide for future design work.
The planning and patterning of any act toward a desired, foreseeable end constitutes the design process. Any attempt to separate design, to make it a thing-by-itself, works counter to the inherent value of design as the primary, underlying matrix of life.
It is when two differing areas of knowledge are forcefully brought in contact with one another that, a new science comes into being.
Frederick J. Teggart, the historian, says that “the great advances of mankind have been due, not to mere aggregation, assemblage, or acquisition of disparate ideas, but to the emergence of a certain type of mental activity which is set up by the opposition of different idea systems.
In a world in which much work increasingly will be done through automation and in which most routine supervision, quality control, and computation are performed by word and data processors, the work of the design team (research, social planning, creative innovation) is one of the few meaningful and crucial activities left to man. Inescapably, designers will be needed to help set goals for all society.
Extinction is a consequence of over-specialization. As you get more and more over-specialized, you inbreed specialization. It’s organic. As you do, you outbreed general adaptability. So here we have the warning that specialization is a way to extinction, and our whole society is thus organized.
In a world of abject want, a preoccupation with only making things pretty is a crime against humanity.
Man needs structures and tools that are enriched beyond the severely utilitarian. Delight, balance, and the pleasing harmony of proportions that we project outward into the world (and we are told to regard as the eidetic image) are psychological necessities for us.
In industrial circles today, most major research concerns itself not with producing for actual needs, but rather propagandizes people to desire what has been produced. If industry in all countries were to produce only what is needed, the future would look bright indeed.
A new generation of products:
-Tools and artifacts that promote greater autonomy and decentralization
-Better and smaller communication devices
-Alternative energy sources
-Autodiagnostic medical tools
-Ultracompact electric or alternatively powered cars
-Personal, battery driven mobility devices, which can easily be hand carried.
-High quality home appliances (low in energy use, easy to repair)
-Mass produced multiple-use buildings
-Modular components for mass housing (informed by vernacular styles of the region)
-High-Speed rail networks
-Computerized medical diagnostic devices
-Depolluted manufacturing systems
-Wide use of biodegradable materials.
The effect of these new products would be to leave us with completely obsolete roads, automobile factories, schools, universities, housing, factories, hospitals, newspapers, stores, farms, and railroad systems. It is not difficult to see why big business is afraid of changes that may phase out its plants and products.
Directions of change therefore cannot be expected to be initiated by big business or the military-industrial complex (or the tame, captive designers working for them) but will be initiated by independent design teams.
Merely by eliminating the rotting food and by stopping the destruction of food by vermin, the total protein intake of billions would be raised from starvation to nutritionally acceptable levels.
The same can be done in design. Merely by eliminating the social and moral irresponsibility still prevalent in all too many design offices and schools, the needs of the neglected southern half of the world could be met.
Design, if it is to be ecologically responsible and socially responsive, must be revolutionary and radical in the truest sense. It must dedicate itself to nature’s principle of least effort, in other words, maximum diversity with minimum inventory or doing the most with the least. That means consuming less, using things longer, and being frugal about recycling materials.