Keynote: Experiencing Sustainability
Climate change, environmental degradatiion, resource depletion, peak debt and peak energy: these are all stakes being driven into the body of business as usual. The days of acting as if infinite growth were possible within a finite system are over.
Where does this leave interaction design? Last year, a new product was launched every three minutes. Many of these involved the design of an interaction or an experience. But the overwhelming majority of these products and services also waste stupendous amounts of energy and natural resources – and eighty percent of their negative environmental impact is determined at the design stage.
We need to develop products, services and infrastructures according to tough new principles: low-carbon, zero waste, resource-efficient. In this new world of better lives with less stuff, the keywords are resilience, and regenerative design.
What will the experience off these new solutions be like? Where should we look for answers? How do we scale up promising new ideas?
We should start with changes already underway; social innovation is all around us. Amonf more than a million grassroots environmental organisations already out there are Post-carbon Cities; Energy Descent Action Plans; Resilient Communities; Transition Towns.
My lecture will focus on live examples including Dott (North East England); CityEcoLab (St Etienne); Sustainable Daily Life (Southern California).
John Thackara is Director of Doors of Perception, which was founded in 1993 to create a conference of that name in Amsterdam. It now produces festivals and projects that engage a worldwide network of designers, media artists, technology innovators, and grassroots innovators to imagine (and begin to design) sustainable futures. He also works with cities and regions seeking to build next-generation institutions.
A former London bus driver, and later a book and magazine editor, John was the first Director (1993-1999) of the Netherlands Design Institute. He was programme director in 2007 of Designs of the time (Dott 07) a new biennial in North East England. In 2008 he is commissioner of City Eco Lab at Cite du Design in St Etienne, the French design biennial. John is an Associate of The Young Foundation, and is senior advisor on sustainability to the UK Design Council. His most recent book, In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World (MIT Press) will appear this year in Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese.