Author: emilyzganiacz

How to become a sustainable designer

After watching endless big data and human technology relation projects I noticed a strong trend in the acceptance of the fact that futures would entail the dominance of technology in everyday lifestyles. Although I was proud to be apart of a group aspiring to see environmental change and a sustainable futuring scenario, I found myself saddened that my peers were not as hopeful as ourselves. But what if we saw classroom of students hopeful for a world that wasn’t killing itself with pollution, global warming and technological dominance. After all, technology is designed right? Nothing unsustainable appears out of nowhere, it is first designed. But what if we saw a new generation of designers with sustainable thinking, practices and outcomes. What would that mean for our future as we know it?

Take Yves Behar for example, he has completely reinvented a shoebox buy decreasing the packaging material volume and using a cheap environmentally friendly soft case “shoe bag”. This in turn reduces waste and CO2 admissions contributed by shoe packaging (Mitchell, R. 2014). Now I might be a little bias because I work at a sneaker store and have the pleasure of encountering such a simple yet innovative and sustainable piece of design on the regular. But this is exactly the type of thinking our design faculties need to start embedding into education and the design process. Designing should be much more than meeting a need in an aesthetically pleasing way. Design is about creating solutions for global issues that can potentially save the population, not merely for the pleasure of status and career benefits (Broschke, M. 2014).

“Clever Little Bag” shoe package by Yves Behar

“Clever Little Bag” shoe package by Yves Behar

Innovative Sustainable Design

In my ideal reality of the design world, we will all be creating sustainable design that addresses the economical and interpersonal needs of present consumers without compromising resources and lifestyle standards of future generations (Mitchell, R. 2014). The key of achieving this is reaching into the root of our conceptual thinking. We need to apply Yves Behar’s way of thinking by reinventing the familiar by looking at it in an alternate light and detailing these ideas with the practice of sustainability.

We designers all know by now that the conceptual stage of the design process is imperative, and must be strong in order to produce successful functioning design. But I challenge you now to take this one step further by considering this:

  1. Can it be smaller?
  2. Can it be lighter?
  3. Can it be recycled?
  4. Can you reproduce it with less materials?

Your new motto: “Waste is a design flaw” (Matthews, T. 2013)

If we change our thinking by embedding sustainable, future considerate and innovative ideas in our design process, we may even go as far as reversing our damage and saving the world

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Futuring Workshop: Need a Job? Invent it.

Recently I have learnt a new way of thinking; Futuring. This is a way of thinking about the future based on possible scenarios that our current contextual setting may be deprived of or heading towards. Alexander Crosby of UTS held a brief and mind-opening workshop ‘Valuing Student Voices When Exploring, Creating and Planning for the future of Australian Higher Education’ which was lead through group work where we had to analysis technologies within our past and present education and think about how these technologies may change in a future scenario with an educational context.

What struck me the most with the solutions my group came up with is this idea of a “Customisable degree” where by one can combine different course content over various degrees i.e. Commerce, Design and Engineering to create a customised skill set according to the students interests and aspirations. This made me think back to something Gerhard (A Visual Communicator and Lecturer) said at a lecture in my first year of university “By the time you finish your degree, there will be thousands of newly invented jobs that did not exist when you started your degree.” So essentially, we all could be potentially studying for a job that doesn’t even exist yet. Is that not crazy to you? Our world is so diverse and ever- changing that we can’t even consume knowledge and education at the same rate that the economy needs us to fulfil certain roles.

This is the time where high income jobs require an average skill set, we are all expected to have high-skill sets at pretty much all comfortable job positions (Friedman, T. 2013). So this is where I started looking into the new jobs that are out there and the way in which we can create an adaptable career and future for ourselves in such a rapidly changing world. While many jobs will remain the same, the acceleration of technology and data systems will change the nature of their work (Frey, T. 2011).

“The Classroom of the Future” Viewed 22nd Oct 2014

“The Classroom of the Future” Viewed 22nd Oct 2014 <http://take-a-breath.org/tag/impact/&gt;

So what does this mean for us designers specifically? Will we require IT and Computer based skills? Should these skill sets be a choice via an elective subject or integrated within our mandatory studies? We’re seeing a future of an amalgamated force of employees. Here are a few futuristic jobs I bet you never knew existed:

  • 3D-Printing Engineers
  • Social Education Specialists
  • Organ Agents
  • Urban Agriculturalists

They all sound like a Hybrid of two fields right? So lets get rid of the one path, on job, one solution mindset and start thinking about how we can educate ourselves in the way we want. Stop thinking about the “status-quo” of a steady 9-5 job and start thinking about how you create an untouched field that caters to every social, emotional, intellectual and creative outlet your heart desires. Skills like problem solving, collaborative thinking, communication, creativity and critical thinking are far more valuable to a student than purely academic knowledge (Frey, T. 2011).

Bromstein, E. 2014. 30 Jobs with weird, futuristic sounding titles. Viewed 22nd October 2014

Bromstein, E. 2014. 30 Jobs with weird, futuristic sounding titles. Viewed 22nd October 2014 <http://www.workopolis.com/content/advice/article/30-futuristic-sounding-job-titles/ >

Perhaps it’s experience based electives we should be looking at. How can we develop our interpersonal skills and practical thinking skills in order to adapt to our ever-changing careers? The main idea is to be more “life smart”. Look at Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs – Multi Billionaires with low academic records to their name. Before you invest emotional stress into the idea of the future, invest you time into what you love and be the best. Do what you do differently, and better that everyone else.

ARE WE HUMAN? OR ARE WE FACEBOOKER’S?

Have you ever randomly stumbled across a Facebook friend you completely forgot you had? Ever wondered why their activities never seem to pass through your news feed? Don’t worry. You’re not the only one, and you’re not crazy.

After considering and analyzing how great an impact technology has in my life post “human-technology relations” lecture I began to research deeper into something in my everyday life; Facebook. So lets start simple, most of us know Facebook as a social networking site that allows us to connect with and keep track of our social lives by sharing it in a public web space to people whom we dub “friends”. But how many of these so-called friends are we really interacting with? 10? 50? 100? What if were to remove all your no-so-real-friends off your Facebook and see only the people you were interested in, or regularly social with? Well actually, that’s exactly what Facebook is; an algorithm based system that tracks user’s activities and navigation to post only what they are assumed to be interested in, and post only this on their newsfeed (Hodson, H. 2014)

Maybe this is a great idea to some, you only see who are preoccupied with and there is no excess feed of people that let’s face it, you don’t really remember at all. Imagine all the people we secretly love to hate on our facebook’s all gone? This girl’s got the right idea..

Facebook-content

But what if this had an influence on our social activities and more adversely controversial; our emotional state. A study at Princeton University proposes the idea that exposure to positive emotional states of others (our Facebook friends posts) are “contagious” and can influence users to post more positive posts themselves (Kramer, A. et al.) That’s great! You might be thinking. Positive vibes, happy people creates more happy people am I right? Maybe. What if this had the opposite effect where seeing other’s happy makes us feel alone? We’ve all seen the memes “I’m in a committed relationship with someone famous, they just don’t know it yet”, “Coming to terms that you’re going to end up alone with 27 cats” and my personal favorite “Everyone’s in a relationship and I’m over here like…I love donuts.” So we can see there’s a reciprocal effect where the less positive posts that are produced there is an increase in negative posts. (Hodson, H. 2014) This is determined by a defined positive or negative English word found in one’s status/posts. Studies of these variables and activities are as shown below:

Kramer, A., Guillory, J., & Hancock, J, 2012, Experimental evidence of mass-scale emotional contagion through social networks, Viewed 19th Oct 2014

Kramer, A., Guillory, J., & Hancock, J, 2012, Experimental evidence of mass-scale emotional contagion through social networks, Viewed 19th Oct 2014 <http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full?tab=author-info&gt;

I know this is all experimental analysis and not hard evidence but to be frank I’m pissed off. Facebook is not “social”. Facebook isn’t human activity. Facebook has become a unified entity of human and non-human modules that redefine what it is to have humanity in our social lives (Verbeek, P. 2008).

You want a conversation? Talk to a friend FACE TO FACE

What’s that? You’re feeling down? Surround yourself with the PHYSICAL presence of positive people.

You haven’t talked to your old best friend in years? GIVE THEM A BLOODY CALL

Catch my drift?

So are you human? Or a facebooker?

Sustainability Meets Modern Aesthetics

As a child brought up in a generation of progressing technologies it is relevant to study the concern of Anthropocene; that is the repercussions of human activities on the Earth’s ecosystems, particularly the planet’s atmosphere. Without conscious thought, I have been flooded with exposure to media and technologies without recognizing the significance of the dismal exposure of environmentally concerned projects. Thus, I am pleased to be presented with an opportunity to research changing designs that promote sustainability rather than destruct it.

Within my research I have stumbled upon an amazing solar designer; Amelia Amon. As her self-assigned title suggests, she focuses on the development of sustainable design, but what I find most intriguing is her visual approach. Whilst we are exposed to the not so aesthetically pleasing solar panels and the pricey and “tree-hugger” connotations, Amon combats this barrier by creating sophisticated and modern sustainable design that function in a modern environment (Amon, A. 2014).

I have been specifically focused on her work “Green Light” a solar generated design, that illuminates a green light embedded in a semi-spherical pot that further nourishes the planted flora causing it to photosynthesis and of course produce oxygen (can always do with more of that). The piece is somewhat of a miniature green house that evidently sustains itself; besides the odd top up of water to maximize oxygen production. This ecosystem in itself fills its environment with “clean air, light and greenery”; resources we often take for granted. Not to mention all materials utilized in the design are 100% recycled and recyclable.

Green Light: A Decorative Ecosystem

Green Light: A Decorative Ecosystem

Why do I think it’s so successful? I believe Amon has done an impeccable job of essentially meeting modern civilians half way. Do most people want to help the environment? Yes. Do all these people then do anything proactive or productive to sustain it? Sadly, No. But what Amon does is provide a bridge between the modern lifestyle and sustainable activity. Her simple, effortless, elegant design allows people to provide style, and innovation to their household whilst feeding their conscious with the feeling they are helping the environment (Hugger, T. 2014).

Green Light: Botanical Lamp, Terrarium, Air Filter All-In-One

Green Light: Botanical Lamp, Terrarium, Air Filter All-In-One

As a designer and an individual genuinely concerned for our planet I greatly appreciate this approach. It’s not just about creating sustainable projects, its tapping into the habits and thinking of the greater population, finding what appeals to them, and creating it in a sustainable manner (Amon, A. 2014). Perhaps if all designers could adopt this way of thinking we could see a complete shift in the way design is made, marketed and developed.

This is the kind of design I want to be flooded with when I turn on my TV screen. I want natural. I want authentic. I want guilt free technology. I want to see my future children carefree because our generation took charge before it was too late. I want to more green than man made. I want trees, flowers, and bees, not towers. I WANT SUSTAINABILITY

Green Light Purifies Air : TreeHugger. 2014. Green Light Purifies Air : TreeHugger. <http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/green-light-purifies-air.html.&gt; [Accessed 21 August 2014].

X design project: Amelia Amon. 2014. x design project: Amelia Amon. <http://www.environmentalhealthclinic.net/amelia-amon.> [Accessed 21 August 2014].

GREEN LIGHT: Botanical Lamp, Terrarium, Air Filter All-In-One | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building. 2014.GREEN LIGHT: Botanical Lamp, Terrarium, Air Filter All-In-One | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building. < http://inhabitat.com/green-light-botanical-lamp-and-air-filter/#ixzz2jbAH39OE&i.> [Accessed 21 August 2014].