DS 501 Special Topics: Design Solutions to Contemporary (Sustainability) Issues. AKA “I Want to Change the World”
Meets MTWR evenings, 5:30-8:00 June 25-July 19 (3 credits) 2335 Sterling
Instructor: Professor Beverly Gordon
In an intensely concentrated but exciting month, we will examine developments in the design field that focus on creating solutions to contemporary cultural and environmental problems (e.g., overwhelming waste, toxicity, inequities from globalization). Twenty-first century designers are emerging as visionaries for the future; they are working to solve everyday sustainability issues, not just for the developed world, but for “the other 90%.” New “design thinking” is seeking to effect “massive change” in the way people do things, from making buildings and interior furnishings to generating and transporting light, conceiving of and manufacturing clothing, cleaning water, preventing theft, etc. The class will explore today’s pressing issues and examine ways that designers and engineers working from a variety of starting points (industrial/product design, textile design, architecture and interior design, landscape, virtual reality) are articulating problems, working together, and creatively reimagining cradle-to-cradle solutions.
Through films and videos, lectures, guest speakers,discussions, class exercises and student investigation, we will focus on what McDonough and Braungart call “The Next Industrial Revolution” (i.e., upcycling and truly green design), considering overarching concepts such as biomimicry, leapfrogging and emotionally sustainable design. We will build a holistic model of sustainable fashion; look at new approaches to materials; and study specific design solutions such as self-sustaining houses or “Earthships;” light-emitting and energy-harvesting fabrics; the cityscapes and “new neighborhoods” conceptualized by Bjorke Ingals; “bright green city” visions coming from places such as Bogota; the Yves Behar studio which developed solutions ranging from “One Laptop per Child” to self-designed eyeglass frames; and third world problem solvers such as solar ovens and rolling water carriers.
The class is open to any interested student—upper level undergrad or grad—in any major. It is suitable for artists, designers in all fields, engineers, environmentalists, city planners, entrepreneurs, or anyone concerned with a sustainable future. It is not a studio class, but studio solutions/thinking are integral and welcome, and problem solving and hands-on exercises are incorporated. The class is intended to introduce the breadth, depth and creativity of contemporary “design thinking” and give participants a sense of hope, understanding and inspiration about the ways actual interventions may be made.