June 28, 2020

Blog All Dog-eared Pages: The Sustainable Movement by Richard Z Hooker

The Sustainable Movement: The Defining Movement of the 21st Century by Richard Z Hooker was a good read, making me re-examine how I'm trying to help us tackle the climate emergency, and giving me lots of pause for thought about the collectives and impact of the Bauhaus and Ulm design schools, and drawing parallels with DoES Liverpool (despite it not being full of designers, nor a school...)

The book was a Kickstarter project, so I'm not sure how you'd get a copy, but if anyone wants to borrow mine give me a shout. Here are my notes/highlighted sections from it...

Page 42

Gropius made it central to the overall objective of the [Bauhaus] school to promote the talents of everyone who studied there. Collective work was to be celebrated over individual personalities, and the desire to share extended outwards to an embrace of the wider community.

Page 78

The year before the school officially opened, Max Bill was already beginning to imagine a future where a designer from the Ulm school would affect the public at two levels:

1. As a responsible citizen
2. As the designer of products that were better and cheaper than all the others and thus help raise the standard of living for broad levels of the population and create a culture for our technological era.

For Bill these principles applied to every area of consumer goods production, and all forms of design - from housing to modern transport. This was a rejection of a designer's tendency to retreat into dreams and fantasies, and instead, as the art historian Hatje Cantz explains, a concerted effort to devote a designer's energy 'quite pragmatically to the everyday world and its needs.'

Page 107

So the big capitalism truck continues to career down the road, increasingly out of control. There's now fewer people in the front trying to steer it, and more in the back trying desperately to unload whatever remains of its precious cargo. Meanwhile, with the route still set to the pursuit of infinite growth, the juggernaut just keeps on going, swerving dangerously towards an increasingly perilous cliff-edge of climate (and social) breakdown.

Page 130

Experimental thought spaces aren't useful just to the arts - the writer John Higgs points out that 'mathematicians during the 18th century played around with imaginary numbers for the fun of it and found them to be surprisingly useful. Over time their properties became understood and they became an important tool for engineers. Our understanding of phenomena such as radio waves or electricity is reliant on them.' So, as he goes on to suggest: 'Artists couldn't create without magical thinking, just as engineers couldn't work without rational materialism.'

Page 177

Danny Hills, an inventor, scientist, author and engineer explains: 'Technology is the name we give to something when it doesn't work properly yet.' The use of this label is then more than a little worrying considering a recurring belief throughout human history has been that 'technology will save us.' Silicon Valley has most recently tried respinning this flawed but still popular myth, and a financial climate led largely by speculation allows this fiction to flourish. Meanwhile, back down here in reality, technology will never 'save us', but the ideas and actions born from it one day just might.

Page 206

3. Professionals appear to 'DENY' or ignore 'The Negative', particularly about themselves of their projects.
4. Professionals appear to create and positively reinforce facades and perceptions until these facades and perceptions are 'perceived' to be fact (media do this all the time).
7. 'NORMAL' today appears to be 'professional values' rather than say 'Spiritual Values' or a reverence for life.

Page 223

Carne Ross, a diplomat with an interest in complexity theories, likes to say: 'We think we need to be big to be powerful, when in fact we can be small.' This can include the scale and reach of our own actions as well.

Page 237

'Now this thing about ecosystems' [Brian Eno] explains, 'is that it's impossible to tell what the important parts are. It's not a hierarchy, you know. We're used to thinking of things that are arranged in levels like that, with the important things at the top and the less important things at the bottom. Ecosystems aren't like that. They're richly interconnected and they're co-dependent in many, many ways.'

Page 238

To adapt and 'repurpose' an old Bill Moggridge quote: 'If there's a simple, easy design principle that binds everything together, it's probably about starting with the people and nature, and ending with the people and nature.'

Page 264

Through any transitional period bursting with new technology, the methods by which artists continue to contribute to culture, involves them continuing to also verse themselves in the use of all the new tools at their disposal.

Page 284

Parent trees protect their youngsters in the forest around them by shielding them from the worst of the wind and the rain. Despite the overwhelming evidence today that suggests capitalism isn't in such good shape. For the time being at least, a young movement embracing a more sustainable future, can help itself by growing close enough to its parents to still benefit from the shelter provided. Securing longevity may begin with accepting a few short-term contradictions.

Page 293

Dieter Rams, the modern product designer's spiritual guru, declared in 2009 a poignantly simple ambition: 'The future of design is in enabling us to survive on this planet. This is no exaggeration.'

Posted by Adrian at June 28, 2020 03:03 PM | TrackBack

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