Sustain our Nation shows the way forward for design

Sustainability can be a minefield. You can have an event on low-energy housing without reference to community, we can push the notion of recycling without considering reuse and product designers might still look at the’ cradle to grave’ impact of their creations without thought about the afterlife, Martino Gamper-style.

It’s a complicated message, yet it is fundamental to the preservation of the planet and the enhancement of people’s lives. Those at the sharp end believe that design has a leadership role to play in all this, with designers exploring more efficient ways of doing things and acting as facilitators in co-design projects.

Sustainability is front of mind for emerging talents like Max Frommeld, a graduate from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication who won Best in Show at London’s 2008 New Designers graduate showcase. New generations don’t view environmental issues as an add-on, but as a given in their designs.

The Audi Design Foundation couldn’t be more timely with Sustain our Nation, an initiative to harness all aspects of sustainability in real projects for the UK. The opening event at London’s Royal College of Art last Friday was a brainstorm to identify how the charity might best deploy its resources, an inclusive affair that bodes well for the success of the venture.

ADF manager Rebecca Edge says Sustain our Nation is the ‘next step’ for an organisation that promotes ‘design that makes an impact on people’s lives’ by practical example. It will cover five areas/ energy and climate change; finance; the ageing population; crime; and health.

Aiming to fill the gaps between existing initiatives and work through collaboration, it could join up the dots in a way few organisations have done. For design it offers an opportunity to get stuck in, work across disciplines or learn from the projects it throws up. There is nothing cranky about Sustain our Nation. There’s room for all and lots to learn from sharing. Get stuck in.

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