Sustainable Futures?

Image: Natasha Carolan

I was recently invited to the Design Museum in London to view Sustainable Futures, an exhibition of design and architectural approaches to sustainability. This exhibition is a demonstration of the role that design and designers play in the sustainability and energy debate. Concepts exhibited ranged from Mathieu Lehanneur’s ‘Local River’ a conceptual domestic ‘refrigerator-aquarium’ that breeds freshwater fish and grows herbs to the ‘Energy Aware Clock’ by Interactive Institute, Sweden.

The ‘Energy Aware Clock’ is a beautiful design which functions by graphically displaying household energy usage enabling comparative analysis over selected periods of time.

Next, ‘Ration me up’ carbon ration book by “The Ministry of Trying to Do Something About It’ that aims to make individuals more conscious of their carbon consumption, by rationing a ‘fair share of the worlds resources’. This provides a one month quota of carbon ration coupons for water, food and clothing and grounds the information imparted in the users daily routine and in a way in which we can grasp the impact of consumerism.

‘Changing Habbits’, by Giraffe Innovation, is an online project where users are invited to create their ‘habbit’. This is a humaniod representation where distortion in the body of the “Habbit’ relates directly to the consumer behaviour of the user. The approach works on a visual level, where a users negative behaviour data is processed and presented in a way that is obvious and easily understood.

While this demonstrates the role of designers in the energy, sustainability debate, it raises the question as to what is the role of non-designers and what will they design?

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