Monday 25 March 2019

The Green Imperative by Victor Papanek

The Green Imperative: Ecology and Ethics in Design and Architecture

This is a useful and insightful book for anyone interested in making design more ecofriendly and at the same time more human friendly (ie design that takes people's real needs into account instead of becoming obsessed with aesthetics for the sake of aesthetics). Papanek looks at designs for buildings and machines with an eye to using ecofriendly materials and ways of extending the lifestyle of items. He looks at designs made by various peoples across the world including a fascinating chapter on Inuit design (he spent a lot of time with Inuit people).

It's a book that fits neatly at the point between text book and creative non-fiction, being written in an engaging, accessible style and lavishly illustrated, while being creatively useful and informative. Ideal reading for anyone who designs things from architects to jewellery makers.

It feels like a very timely book.

Depressingly it was actually published in 1995 and this is the second time I've read it. Why are we so slow at doing the obvious? Why are so many new objects destructive of the environment in the way they are made, their short lifespan and the amount of waste that they produce?

The Green Imperative by Victor Papanek published by  Thames and Hudson.

Victor Papanek died in 1998 but his work lives on in the Victor Papanek Foundation, University of Applied Arts Vienna, which 'seeks to advance the understanding of design from the perspective of social responsibility. It supports design as an innovative and creative practice with the potential to transform societies and enhance human well-being. Inspired by Papanek and his collaborators’ critical and cross-cultural approach to design culture the Foundation furthers an inclusive and socially-informed approach to contemporary design'.

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