Compost Modern, an AIGA conference with a focus on "Sustainable Design" was recently held in San Francisco. The conference was split into one day of lectures (5 and 20 minute) and one day of participant generated group discussions. Speakers included a broad spectrum of design practitioners – from storytellers to home builders to educators. The lectures presented an optimistic glimpse into design that is currently making a very real difference in peoples lives around the world – an incredibly inspirational weekend for any designer interested in creating new experiences or directing existing ones in a more responsible direction. This was my first time attending the conference and I would highly recommend it.
Some of the most pervasive themes discussed across disciplines included:
Education (both availability and quality of life impact on the developing world)
Responsibility as designers to shift established cultural patterns towards less wasteful practices.
As well as identifying these patterns.
Technology enabling global problem identification as well as collaborative problem solving.
New experiences that offer more value not less / not what's being taken away – but what we're moving towards.
Exceptional presentations included:
Nitzan Waisberg – Professor at Stanford's d.School
Discussing "Efficiency" as an abstract concept
Comfort and Convenience
That "Routine" and held over traditions are vulnerabilities in cultures and are targets for change.
Dan Philips – Phoenix Commotion – builds houses for low income families / artists from salvaged materials
An insightful presentation also discussing established conventions and patterns in construction & culture as "Bad Habits" and opportunities to minimize waste.
TED lecture available here as well.
Lisa Gansky – Author of The Mesh (Founder of multiple digital Co's)
Focused on waste as unused value.
Trading value often leads to more experiences and less waste.
Jonah Sachs – Founder of Free Range Studios
Designers as new storytellers – straddling Religion, Science and Entertainment.
Potential to define new myths and values within society.
Kierstin De West – Principle at Ci
Sustainability outside of environmental concerns: Social, Spiritual and Personal
Specificity and transparency
Long lasting products over built in obsolescence
Debera Johnson – Founder of the Pratt Design Incubator
Sustainability as a requirement built in to proposed projects.
The conference site also includes links to additional information on the speakers and other organizations involved in fostering sustainable design practices.