Monday, February 11, 2008

Systems, Cities, and Sustainable Mobility - Review, Part I

At the Art Center College of Design Summit, "Systems, Cities, and Sustainable Mobility" that I attended last week, Alex Stefan of worldchanging.com said that you have to "speak to people's hearts" when it comes to sustainable design. I believe this is true of any design, but for something to be sustainable, people have to have an even more special connection to the new product they may purchase, the new system or a change in environment to which they have to adapt.

The three major principles that make or break society's connection to new, innovative (and as a result, sometimes controversial) designs are nostalgia, fear and aspiration. This "connection" seemed to be the issue each presenter felt would be critical to affect sustainable change in systems, cities and mobility within them in the years to come.

Why?

It's not just about the product, but the type of people we will become in the future. People are generally nostalgic. This explains the success of "new" designs derived from previous versions (ie: VW Beetle, recent iterations of the Ford Mustang), so moving forward must have an element of going "back to the future." There has to be a sense of one's history as they move toward the future.

We aspire to continually improve ourselves. The key question here is this: Does improvement mean obtaining more possessions, or owning our actions? For example, Stefan also stated that our aspirations of continuous consumption are not fitting of a "one world life." We are using up the limited resources we have to strive for our house on the cul-de-sac, the SUV, the home theater systems etc., and when we need a break from that which allows us to obtain such things, we "get away" to a much simpler environment. Sometimes an environment far disconnected from those things. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves what's really important, and how do we continually improve ourselves while limiting our consumption of consumer goods. Notice I said limiting and not E-liminating our consumption of goods, since there will always be a need for certain products. Furthermore, we can make better decisions on WHICH products we purchase in an effort to live a "one world life."

Fear. Fear of the unknown - very influential in the ease of transition to new systems and designs.

We at Local Motors will also strive to incorporate components in our designs and offer products which help promote a "one world life". It's our job as designers, engineers, and most importantly, the people that can affect change to keep these three factors close to our hearts as we design new products and systems.

The people of the world purchasing such products/navigating the new systems certainly will.

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