I was intrigued by Richard Eisermann’s call to use design methods in areas beyond the typical scope of design practice (DW 22 January), and this is an initiative that is ripe for greater investigation.
Considering how sustainability might best be promoted, Eisermann argues that we should ‘lock intellectual arms to solve these new, complex problems’.
His argument would be more convincing if, in the design world, we’d ever had an honest and informed debate regarding sustainability.
In reality, we uncritically adopted the concept without ever intellectually critiquing it.
In addition, there is a conflict between the concept of sustainability and the philosophy of user- or human-centred design to which Eisermann also alludes. He notes that to achieve the social goal of sustainability designers will need to ‘persuade consumers to, in some cases, rescind their attachment to ownership’ in favour of services.
This approach sounds more like social engineering than human-centred design, and is likely to leave our fellow citizens short-changed.
Let’s put the interests of real people, not the intangible notion of the environment, back at the centre of design thinking and practice.