Monday, June 25, 2012

New Thoughts

I never really realized how much money was affecting the design world until this previous week of readings, research, and blogging. Of course I knew that money is involved through the purchase of products, the profit made by designers and so forth but I never thought of money as a drive negatively affecting sustainability. Ultimately the word that best fits this obsession is materialism. I also never really thought of myself as being materialistic but had quite a rude awakening after being reminded what my real need as a human are. As I look back I find myself buying things that I don't really need but simply want, replacing or adding things to my closet and to my home that were not necessary. Now I have also come to the conclusion that its not horrible to occasionally make a “want” purchase but the frequency or speed of participating in “want” buys are what can develop into an unhealthy materialistic behavior. The demanding speed at which we as consumers are wanting products is forcing producers to deliver products faster and in result use detrimental methods. 
As a consumer learning this made me aware of what I am doing buying things I don't really need. This will make me give more thought to the products I buy and how I take care of my personal belongings, preserving items that I consider easily replaceable a little bit more. As a designer I know I can not control the demand and want of consumers but I am inspired to create products that can fulfill the need for new and change through products I design, like a pillow that had attachable and replaceable parts to update or switch up a look. Also other ideas might be interchangeable covers on candles to change and switch up for a small difference in ones home. As well as making easily modified products I would strive to use biodegradable or recyclable materials and sustainable methods of production. I may not be able to slow down the wants of consumers but I can try to help by making products that satisfy wants with a longer product life in value to users though these different methods. I believe that informing consumers about the issues we have learned this week, as well as the previous weeks, can make a difference even if it is a small one. If people were to realize how detrimental our actions are then it may create at least more thought in the almost subconscious actions they are making now. I know that my view have changed and have found myself looking in to what I by, what is in my product, if I really need a product, how I dispose of products and so forth. Some consumers may react in the way I have after learning some of the things I have and the way to spread this knowledge can start by telling consumers myself through word of mouth or through a informative tag on my product packaging. 
I would like to expand my understanding and knowledge about consumer behavior in relation to what I have learned this week. I want to know how consumers think and why they purchase what they do. What influences and promotes a consumer to want more and new things. Through this knowledge I could have a better understanding of how to influence consumers towards sustainable products and practices. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

For changes to be of any true value, they've got to be lasting and consistent.

“The World is at your finger tips” I am sure we have all heard this saying before! Am I right? My question is how do you think the world can be at your finger tips? A college degree, Your dream Job. The biggest and nicest house in town, Money? I feel like many would say money, which would help one achieve the materialistic desires one might have. Is money what we value? Is money what we really need? These are all the questions that have been running through my head regarding our economy and our culture in regards to sustainable design and I believe I just might have found the answers. 
Today our world seems to be constantly hypnotized into the new latest and greatest products out in the market. Whether that be a new phone, a new pair of hip jeans, the new couch that everyone must have to make any room complete, consumers are repeatedly needing and wanting something new and something better. This would not be a concern if it were not for the speed at which consumers want is turning over. Every season there are new clothes to buy and old ones to throw out, there are new color pallets and decorative house sets to update your home, what you have is never good enough for the present and therefore items are being thrown into the past at an unhealthy rate and in most cases an unhealthy way. In result this is causing harm to the Earth. So what value does the new and improved value really hold to us and is this the right kind of value we should be valuing? The hard cold answer is simply no. 

What we should be valuing is the planet on which we are trying to sustain our lives on. To understand this we need to understand our needs as human beings/consumers. According to Ann Thorpe, in her book The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability, Physical survival, communication with others, creating survival and having a sense of self are the needs humans have. “Among the many different categorizations of human needs, a representative list includes substance, protection, affection, understanding participation, leisure, creation, identity, and freedom.” The most important thing to understand is that all of these need promote well-being which as established in the previous two weeks is what sustainability promotes as well. There is a common and natural link to human needs and sustainable practices. Our needs are apart of our culture and culture is apart of nature. “...Nature provides an Important element of cultural sustainability.” So if your are catching my drift in order to fulfill our human needs we have to keep nature (aka the Earth) in tip top shape and because we need to do this through sustainable practices we should find our true value in the place we call our home.  

Sadly our world has gone down a path in which unsustainable practices are demolishing our ecosystems. The market is not concerned about this one bit and this is mostly because the conditions brought on by all the products sold and made in the market are  basically ignored. This can be understood through the concept of zero price. Ann Thorpe explains this by stating that because we do not pay money to use the ecosystems we are provided by nature, nature then has no value. With nature being seen as having no monetary value, prices of products do not reflect the value of nature. This is why sustainable products become so expensive. If the positive value we contributed towards the decision of pricing of a sustainable product, the price of that product would probable decrease. If it did not decrease at least the value of a sustainable product would be obviously increased. This applies to the situation when looking at it vise versa as well. “,,,yet the market counts these as “free” because we don't pay money for them. Nature also has value for reasons other than being useful to people- like all life-forms, it has intrinsic value, meaning value for just existing.” Efforts have been made to change the views of sustainable products as they are associated with high prices. One method is artificial prices, this is when consumers are asked how much they would be willing to pay to sustain nature, counting in the value nature has for that particular product. Another method that could be used is “democratic process and other collective decision-making methods available largely through public and nonprofit organizations”(Thorpe) I was not able to find any information about current companies in the interiors field that have tried either one of these methods but I think that through studies these practices might be an effective way to determine some product prices.
I was able to find several companies and firms that are contributing to nature and holding high value in their sustainable practices. The video and website links are just are just some of the companies I found that are striving to be green.

Websites for sustainable Interior design Company links:

The moral of the story here today is to really take a look at what you hold dear and valuable. Are these things what you should be valuing? The one thing we should value greatly is our planet on which we live and to do that we need to respect nature and give back through sustainable designs and practices. Doing this will help man kind fulfill our needs to continue on with our lives. The world needs a change and for changes to be of any true value, they've got to be lasting and consistent. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

No Longer In The Dark

The most important thing I learned this week was just how bad our waste issues are in the world! I didn't realize how detrimental all of our waste is to the earth but now through all of the readings, research, and interaction with my blogging group I have found a new understanding! I learned that its not just what a product is made of but how its made and what is used to make it really matters. Waste is more than just the trash we take to the dumpster, it is the water used, the chemicals intertwined in the product making and so much more. Learning this is valuable to me not only as a consumer but as a designer as well. 

From a consumer standpoint I have become more aware of how I need to be cautious of how I get rid of different products and how often as well. I do not currently participate in recycling but after learning what I did this week I am interested in doing my small part. As a designer I can apply what I have learned by being more aware how I design products by not only using sustainable design methods but establishing how the product I design is made, where it is made, and what chemicals, energy, and water is used in production. I can help consumers use sustainable practices and enable them to recycle or reuse products in an up cycling by the design I establish. If I make a difference as a designer I am enabling consumers to make a difference and that right there is what can change the step slope to destruction into an upward slope to a self sustaining thriving environment. 

As I believe that designers can make such a difference i want to learn more about the LEED and GOTS Manual. I would like to dig in deep and understand each standard they establish. Also I am really interested to learn how these optional requirements could become required regulations. What would it take to enable all designers to adopt these principles? What actions would need to be made to start the progress of getting the LEED and GOTS Manual a required guide? Who should we present this idea too? 

I am glad my eyes have been opened through all the information I learned this week! It is crazy to think how in the dark I have been and It makes me want to make more informed decisions in my personal and professional decisions and help inform consumers of all the waste that is resulted from some of the products they use everyday as well as providing better alternative options. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The End Has No End

Waste, waste, waste, our world is filled with it! It is not hard to believe when you really think about it! How many times do you take our a huge plastic bag filled with food, packaging, paper, foil. chemicals, and whatever else? I know I probably take a trip to the dumpster at least three times a week if not more and thats from just me and a small dog! My waste is just from the consumer side too, Im not producing tons and tons of product using endless amounts of energy, chemicals, water, and extra unusable pieces made in production. Can you just imagine the amount of waste from factories that do not practice any kind of recycling or reusing methods? In the article Sustainable Waste Management Systems by Jeffery K. Seadon he makes a powerful statement about waste saying “Waste is a result of inadequate thinking. The traditional approaches to waste management of ‘flame, flush, or fling’ are outmoded customs which have resulted in an unsutainable society.” I think that Seadon frames this statement perfectly, the methods in which we dispose of things is in a poor manner regarding the well being of our planet and those living on it. 

“Whatever is naturally here is all we have. Whatever humans make does not go ‘away’” In the article waste equals food by William McDonough and Michael Braungart the concept of cradle to cradle is constructed. This means that from the beginning of the the design process we could decrease waste by create products with only biodegradable elements so that once a product has reached the period where it is no longer usable or the consumer is done with it, the product could be put back into the earth and help it not harm it with chemicals or such. Cradle to Cradle also means that once and item is in its end stage it could be recycled or reused to become something new essentially making it to where nothing resulting in waste. “To eliminate the concept of waste means to design things- products, packaging, and systems -from the very beginning on the understanding that waste does not exist”. another very well put point in the Waste Equals Food article. As designers, both apparel and interior, if we don't make the concept of waste and option and adopt the values of the cradle to cradle method there will not be any worries of harming the well being of our planet and sustainable design is achieved. How can we as designers go about adopting the cradle to cradle method though?

I think the most important way designers can adopt the cradle to cradle method is by “identifying all the substance contained in the product and how to reuse them, separate them, or return them to their ‘spheres’” as mentioned by Ann Thorpe her book. The Designer’s Atlas of sustainability. This means that if we as designers research and know exactly what makes up our product we can control what it will achieve once the product reaches its final stages of use. Designers have great organizations to reference to like LEED and GOTS which set standards for sustainable methods as far as reuse, recycling, and deigning. These organizations are a great tool for designers and set wonderful high sustainability standards but the problem I see with these is that, from my understanding, they are not mandatory in design. They are an optional standards to use, which for those not concerned about sustainable design don't even have to regard being held to these great standards. If the standards brought on by these organizations could be made mandatory in some shape or form I feel like a design paradigm shift would be universally possible. 

For those designers that consciously design which sustainable morals there are ways that we as designers can reuse product that are at their end use for consumers and that we might not have designed ourselves. We can do this with two concepts, recycling and reusing. Recycling is when a product it separated, and or reprocessed at fiber level to make a new product. Unfortunately there is a non ideal type of recycling called down cycling, in which a product is still created new from old recycled products but the value of the new product is less than that of the original. Ann Thorpe points our in her book that sadly this is the main type of recycling that takes place. The positive recycling method is called up cycling. This is when a product is made new with and old recycled product but its new product value is worth the same value or more than the original product. Up cycling is obviously the most ideal type of recycling! As far as the reusing method this is when a product is reused at about the same form as the origingal product. The reused product is not decomposed into the fiber stage in anyway it is simply more modified and cleaned up. 

Luckily for us interior designers I think the concept of up cycling thorough reuse is a lot easier to achieve in our field verses the apparel industry. This is because all kinds of home items such as furniture be fixed up through some cleaning supplies, paint, and fabrics. I have personally done this with several pieces in my home. I have turned an old dresser into a unique personalized buffet in my kitchen through some spick and spanning, a few coats of paint, and some new hardware. I also was able to take an old door from a dump site and turn it into a wall tree/mud bench by cleaning, painting, and adding new hardware and an attached shelf. These items that I found were ready to go in a land fill but by using the reuse method I was able to increase their original value though up cycling. My examples are just a few ways other designers, and even consumers in general can accomplish. There are craft sites all over the internet dedicated to up cycling all kinds of products that could other wise be sitting in landfills. Below is a video of how design assistant Julia Black up cycles hidden treasures from thrift shops and old products that could otherwise seem useless by the reuse method. 

So in the end the concept that is most important is that the end has no end. With product having no end how can there be waste? If there is no waste how can we be harming our environment? If we aren't harming our environment then we are achieving sustainable design aren't we? 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Maybe It's Not As Easy As ABC, 123...

The one thing that I realized the most from my fellow blogging buddies this weekend is that sustainability is an extremely complicated issue! Not even the issue itself but the contributing factors enabling unstainability in our design fields. The way that this was brought to my attention was simply by all of the different focuses my blogging group were able to present. Each one of us representing a different cause and effect to the problems of unstainability. My group presented and discussed issues such as: high prices when it comes to sustainable products and how those prices could reduce with procedures such as recycling, how animal cruelty is a contributor to unstainable design regarding well being and how clothing companies should label cruelty free made products to inform consumers, how consumers could find value in high priced sustainable products and in turn make more sustainble product purchases, and last but not least how as designers we can make a great contribution towards sustainable design in both the designer and consumer roles. From all of this I realized that for sustainable design to really take the new light in all products and turn around the way of both the interior and fashion worlds a social paradigm has to happen. Sadly I don't think that fixing one part of the unstainable equation will fix the issue of unstainable design its self but I do believe any change no matter how small will help!! In the end information and communication is what need to be enhanced to create a social paradigm! This is what I understood to be as the important lesson learned this week.
Understanding this lesson and returning to my previous post, I find relevance personally by looking as myself as a designer  that can do just what I have learned to do, design. I can design sustainable products to give my contribution to the sustainable movement. Besides doing my part as a designer I can also help raise awareness to consumers by informing them about the harmful effects unstainable products and practices. I can also take a positive part in sustainable design by holding myself to a high standard as a consumer. Using the knowledge I have about sustainability to make effort to purchase, recycle, and care for sustainable products. 
I hope to discover more products and companies that contribute to sustainable well being as I continue to learn more in this course. I also would like to learn how I as a designer could help inform consumers about sustainable design and about any organizations that are speaking out to consumers about sustainability. I would also like to discover more ways to recycle both interior and apparel goods and the process of how creating new products from recycled ones can be facilitated. 
It may not be a simple problem to solve but if we simply try to help the movement  a sustainable conciseness world its better than nothing to me!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lets Get Together! Yeah Yeah Yeah...

Why don't you and I design? Lets get together, what do you say? We can make an impact in time. We’d be a crazy team and could achieve a dream. Why don't we make a scene? TOGETHER!

You know the saying about how one person can make a difference? Well what if a bunch of people (our fellow developing designer selves) decided to make a difference together? A difference in the way we design products and how people think of sustainability! This ideal unity could affect the apparel and interior design industries substantially, I mean we are the next generation to take over our fields after all. “Designers play a key role in creating sustainable solutions for clothing, and making ethical fashion appeal to the mainstream consumer.”  In the article Fashioning Sustainability: A review of sustainability impact of the clothing industry, many elements that have contributed to unsustainability in clothing design and suggestions on how to contradict them, designers being seen as a key contributor for the movement of sustainability. As designers we set the trends and are big persuaders of sustainability being “cool”  in all fields of design! Cosette M. Armstrong and Melody L A LeHew point our in their article, Shifting the New Dominant Social Paradigm in the Apparel Industry: Acknowledging the Pink Elephant, If designers are perceptive and open to the principles of sustainability, the concept of fashion may be used to attract attention, energy, and imagination around sustainable solutions. So as you see we can make a difference in some major ways  involving design, but first we need may need to clarify what it means to design sustainable and how we can go about doing that. 

 Sustainable design has seemed to adopt many definitions but the definition that I feel relates to designers the best is: “Theories and practices for design that cultivate ecological, ecological. economic, and cultural conditions that will support human well-being” (The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability, Ann Thorpe) How beautiful is the idea that we as designers are contributing human well-being? We are more than someone designing a new dress or a new office building, we are humans helping humans in the end with what we choose to create for them. We can design with sustainable morals in the materials we choose, the way we establish to create a product, recycling materials and products to create a new one, creating products that can be upgradeable by switching out panels or changeable elements like slip covers, and the list could go on and on. We can influence consumers to desire more sustainable product in the way that we design. We can make sustainability an even bigger trend than “Going Green”

 Lately “going green” seems to be the new trend and not just for produces of almost every product but also for the everyday consumer. Labels that mention anything about a product being green seem to appeal to consumers and thats because consumers care. It makes one feel good after purchasing a product that helped keep the world a little bit better than an ungreen product would. This trend makes apparel and interior industries hopeful that consumers will start demanding more sustainable products and an even more movement could emerge. As the “Going Green” trend is a good start ”We must go beyond the marketing and labeling of "green" products good for the environment and recycling as "feel good" or "only action" solutions. Society must examine environmental issues in the broad global context of finite and renewable resources. Shifting our balance to reliance on more renewable resources is a priority” (Beyond green: From issues to initiatives, Niemeyer, Shirley Francis, Charles A.) So to be proactive, once we can engage people to “Go Green” we can them captivate them to understand just how beneficial and substantial their want for sustainable products is. Once consumers understand this their demand will rise and we as designers can fill that demand with the products we create. 

Nike is a great example of a company of doing this by using their designers as the start to create sustainable products and encouraging customers to help in making the world “better”. In fact they are a great example that strives for sustainability in general with many commitments to strive for the best by creating value for their business and innovating for a better world ( Below are a few videos that just make me as a designer smile with pride for the steps our industries are taking to promote sustainable designs. I am a huge Nike fan and just as a consumer I love that I can buy their products with an eased mind!

Now I would like to make it clear that I am not saying that designers are the ones to blame for the problems of unstainability over the past years but I am saying we can be part of the change we are wishing to see in our industry if we want to. I dont know about you but I plan on living on this planet for a while an would like to keep it as nice and life sustaining as possible! Therefore I am signing up to be an environmentally aware designer and you can join me! If you do we could make a difference together!