Contemporary influences on design practice

“ There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but merely a really few… by making whole new species of lasting refuse to clutter up the landscape, and by taking stuffs and processes that pollute the air we breath, interior decorators have become a unsafe strain…

In this age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed, design has become the most powerful tool with which adult male shapes his tools and environments ( and, by extension, society and himself ) . This demands high societal and moral duty from the interior decorator.

” Victor Papanek ( 1985 )

Design for sustainability is portion of the bigger image of sustainable development, a topic which has received considerable media attending in recent old ages due to a scope of universe broad crises which have manifested themselves as political jobs: clime alteration, dearth, disease and poorness.

The development of sustainability

Is been described as a series of three moving ridges, with extremums and troughs of activity, that contribute to the impulse we see today ( SustainAbility, 2006 ) .

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The first moving ridge occurred in the sixtiess and 1970s with the birth of the Green Movement and the rise of Non Governmental Organisations ( NGOs ) , such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, which focused on driving alteration via authorities policy and ordinance.

The 2nd moving ridge occurred in the 1980s, set off by a scope of economic crises ( brought on by the prostration of the Berlin Wall ) and environmental calamities ( from Bhopal to Chernobyl ) which prompted a scope of statute law and environmental, healthy and safety criterions.

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At this clip NGOs used a figure of high profile concern evildoings to catalyze public argument and drive regulative and market responses. The constructs of auditing, coverage and battle within concern entered the mainstream ( SustainAbility, 2006 ) .

The new millenary saw the start of the 3rd moving ridge of sustainability. Unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere had led to a growing in anti-globalisation, frequently in the pretense of anti-Americanism. The first World Social Forum, organised in resistance to the World Economic Forum brought together militants and NGOs from around the universe, runing on issues such as trade justness and debt, and progressively united on issues of H2O scarceness and development. In the aftermath of another set of high profile concern debacle such as the Enron fiasco, corporate administration and liability became a hot issue for top direction and for fiscal markets. Meanwhile, concerns started to research new partnerships with NGOs, for illustration Greenpeace and Shell shared a platform at the Johannesburg Summit, besides Greenpeace formed a joint venture with Innogy to make the Juice air current power trade name, which late began to feed power generated by a immense offshore air current farm into the national grid ( SustainAbility, 2006 ) .

Since the late sixtiess when Victor Papanek ( 1971 ) foremost blamed the design profession for making uneconomical merchandises and client dissatisfaction, there has been a turning feeling in many environmental circles that design and industry is responsible for many of the semisynthetic emphasiss imposed on the planet. A fact that is good illustrated by the fact 80 % of merchandises are discarded after a individual usage and 99 % of stuffs used are discarded in the first six hebdomads ( Shot in the Dark, 2000 ) . Though this tendency is expected to get down to alter with the debut of new merchandise focused environmental statute law, the fact still remains that mainstream merchandise de­sign draws on scarce resources to make and power merchandises which frequently have small or no consideration for impact on society and the environment.

Specifying Industrial Design

Throughout the 19th century, the term ‘de­signer ‘ was obscure and equivocal, mentioning to a broad scope of businesss: all right creative persons, designers, crafts­men, applied scientists and discoverers ( Sparke, 1983 ) . By the 20th century the profession of design had de­veloped into Industrial Design as we know it today, bing in design squads and governed by manage­ment construction ( Sparke, 1983 ) .

Within industry, industrial interior decorators tend to either work ‘in-house ‘ , as a map of a larger administration or as independent design advisers within a design consultancy that services a assortment of different clients ( Lofthouse, 2001 ) . Within both of these capacities industrial interior decorators can be involved in the design and development of both consumer and industrial goods ( Lofthouse, 2001 ) . This study focuses on consumer merchandises. Within this sector, industrial interior decorators can function a broad scope of industries such as pharmaceuti­cals, packaging, and electrical and electronic domestic merchandises, as such their end products can change tremendously in footings of their nature and complexness.

Design for Sustainability Emerges

The construct of design for sustainability foremost emerged in the sixtiess when Packard ( 1963 ) ; Papanek ( 1971 ) ; Bonsiepe ( 1973 ) and Schumacher ( 1973 ) began to knock modern and unsustainable development and suggest options. The 2nd moving ridge emerged in the late eightiess and early 1990s and coincided with the green consumer revolution. Writers such as Manzini ( 1990 ) ; Burall ( 1991 ) , Mackenzie ( 1991 ) and Ryan ( 1993 ) began to name for design to do extremist alterations. This moving ridge continued to derive impulse towards the terminal of the 1990s and early 2000s as design for sustainability became more widespread. Though there has been a long history of interior decorators being mo­tivated and interested in bettering the environmen­tal and societal impact of the merchandises they produce, there has been a deficiency of chance within the in­dustrial context with instance surveies merely get downing to emerge from electronic and electrical companies in the early 1990s when companies such as Philips, Elec­trolux, IBM and Xerox began to advance the work they had done in this country. Although big industry committedness to incorporating environmental and societal issues into merchandise development has continued to be on the rise at that place has been small grounds of wide­spread chance for this type of holistic thought, in the commercial design industry.

Design for sustainability issues are presently seldom addressed in the design brief ( Dewberry, 1996 ; Lofthouse, 2001 ) and as such it is frequently hard for interior decorators to hold the chance to prosecute with environmentally and socially responsible design in a professional capacity. This study aims to alter this state of affairs and promote a more widespread ap­proach to plan for sustainability.


In the past environmental and socially responsible design has non been specifically encouraged through design instruction and preparation. This is now altering – for illustration in the UK programmes such as STEP and Sustainable Design Awards developed and run by the charity Practical Action are set up to promote sustainability consciousness in immature interior decorators working at National Curriculum cardinal phase 3 and 4 ( ages 11- 16 ) and A-levels severally. Similarly undertakings such as DEMI ( design for the environment multi-media execution ) , and the pioneering work of the Centre for Sustainable Design, Goldsmiths College, Loughborough University and the puting up of a Toolbox for Sustainable Design ( Bhamra and Loft­house, 2004 ) – which aims to assist other lectors develop sustainable design classs – have helped to alter this state of affairs.

Research in the field of design for sustainability is now good established, though it can still be consid­ered a new country. Most of the developed states now have some signifier of active research into design for sustainability, covering issues such as: implementa­tion of statute law, eco-innovation, corporate societal duty, merchandise service systems, eco-redesign, impacts of user behavior, design for disassembly and change by reversal fabrication.


Challenge for Design

Part of the challenge for interior decorators is for them to to the full understand the comprehensiveness of the docket and appreciate what can be tackled under the umbrella of design for sustainability. Within the design community there is a general deficiency of consciousness of many issues associating to sustainable development. Interior designers need to under­stand and even pass on to their co-workers that design for sustainability is about more than recycling or utilizing recycled stuffs.

Design for sustainability offers a new and broader context for planing. Birkeland ( 2002 ) encapsulates this by showing a new vision for design which is:

  • Responsible – redefining ends around demands, social/eco equity and justness.
  • Synergistic – making positive synergisms ; involv­ing different elements to make systems alteration.
  • Contextual – re-evaluating design conventions and constructs towards societal transmutation.
  • Holistic – taking a life rhythm position to guarantee low impact, low cost, multi-functional results.
  • Empowering – Fosters human possible, self-re­liance and ecological apprehension in appropri­ate ways.
  • Renewing – integrates the societal and natural universe ; recultivates a sense of admiration.
  • Eco-efficient – proactively aims to increase the economic system of energy, stuffs and costs.
  • Creative – represents a new paradigm that tran­scends traditional boundaries of subject think­ing.
  • Visionary – focal points on visions and results and conceives of appropriate methods, to present them.

This study aims to change by reversal the tendency of design con­tributing to planetary environmental and societal prob­lems by animating and authorising me to do a dif­ference. It hopes to edify about the sustainability by and large and demo how better design can better things. By sing the environment and society when you are planing you are able to offer your cli­ents genuinely good design that meets their demands and those of an progressively delicate planet.

In conformity with this study, I consider emergent in actuality the usher accomplished by Lunar Elementss in July 2008. It represent a tool designed to assist all interior decorators, no affair what their degree of experience, design more sustainable merchandises.

The interior decorator ‘s field usher to sustainability- an overview of sustainable merchandise development and the merchandise life rhythm – Lunar Elementss ( 2008 )


Question the premiss of the design

See other attacks to the job at manus

Make is less complex

Simple, elegant designs are frequently the least impactful

Make it more utile

Multiuse merchandises can cut down ingestion and in­crease convenience


Reduce stuff assortment

This can increase recyclability and can diminish man­ufacturing energy

Avoid toxic or harmful stuffs and chemicals

PVC, polystyrene, lead and BPA for illustration

Reduce size and weight

This reduces emanations during transporting

Optimize fabrication procedures

Powder coat vs. pigment. Pressure signifier vs. RIM

Talk to your makers about low energy, low waste options

Design packaging in analogue with merchandises

A green merchandise in a uneconomical bundle should be avoided whenever possible


Design for Upgradeability

Make standard internal constituents accessible and self explanatory

Create lasting and high quality designs

Make merchandises people want to maintain… and do them last

Design for life after decease

A secondary usage for a merchandise adds value and helps cut down waste


Make it modular

More easy repaired, and recycled

Maximize recycled, reclaimable, renewable, and biodegradable stuffs

PET, Polypropylene, HDPE, Wood, Steel, Aluminum and PLA for illustration

Minimize fasteners

Fasteners add weight, material assortment and assembly/ disassembly complexness

Do n’t utilize pigment

Painted plastics are less likely to be recycled


  • Bhamra, T. A. and Lofthouse, V. A. ( 2004 ) , ‘Toolbox for Sustainable Design Education ‘ . Available at: ( Loughborough: Loughborough University ) .
  • Birkeland, J. ( 2002 ) , Design for Sustainability: A Sourcebook of Integrated, Eco-Logical Solutions ( Sheffield: Earthscan Publications ) .
  • Bonsiepe, G. ( 1973 ) ‘Precariousness and Ambiguity: Industrial Design in Dependent Countries ‘ in Design for Need Bicknell, J. and McQiston, L. ( explosive detection systems. ) pp. 13-19 ( London: Pergamon Press, The RCA ) .
  • Burall, P. ( 1991 ) , Green Design ( London: Design Council ) .
  • Dewberry, E. L. ( 1996 ) , EcoDesign – Present Attitudes and Future Directions,
  • Heskett, J. ( 1991 ) , Industrial Design ( London: Thames & A ; Hudson ) . Industrial Design Society of America ( 1999 ) , IDSA web site. Available at:
  • Lofthouse, V. A. ( 2001 ) , Facilitating Ecodesign in an Industrial Design Context: An Exploratory Study, Doctoral Thesis ( Cranfield: In Enterprise Integration Cranfield University ) .
  • Mackenzie, D. ( 1991 ) , Green Design: Design for the Environment ( London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd. ) .
  • Manzini, E. ( 1990 ) , ‘The New Frontiers: Design Must Change and Mature ‘ , Design, 501, p. 9.
  • Packard, V. ( 1963 ) , The Waste Makers ( Middlesex: Penguin ) .
  • Papanek, V. ( 1971 ) , Design for the Real World ( New York: Pantheon Books ) .
  • Papanek, V. ( 1985 ) , Design pentru lumea reala ( Bucuresti: Editura Tehnica )
  • Ryan, C. ( 1993 ) ‘Design and the Ends of Progress ‘ in O2 Event: Dramatic Visions,
  • Schumacher, E. F. ( 1973 ) , Small is Beautiful: a Study of Economics as if Peoples Mattered ( London: Sphere Books, Ltd. ) .
  • Shooting in the Dark ( 2000 ) , Design on the Environment: Ecodesign for Business ( Sheffield: Shooting in the Dark )
  • Sparke, P. ( 1983 ) , Consultant Design: The History and Practice of the Designer in Industry ( London: Pembridge Press Limited ) .
  • Design for sustainability Sustainability ( 2006 ) , Trends and Waves. Available at:

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Contemporary influences on design practice. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

Contemporary influences on design practice

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