Cognitive Futures 3

Design Futuring or Designing for future worlds:

  • Sustainable =
    • Longevity
    • non-destruction of the world (humans animals, environment, economy, religion and resources)
    • Eco-friendly
    • recyclable
  • How is a washing machine sustainable? 
    • energy rating
    • water consumption
    • power usage
  • How is a washing machine NOT  sustainable?
    • materials
    • power/electricity
    • detergent
    • water

Cameron Tankinwise: Sustainability & Design 

(21:40 ‘Suberbanization’)

Suburbanisation: A population shift from central urban areas into suburbs, this is due to cheap oil. ‘There is a shrinking of the household but an increasing in the number of ‘things’ in that household’. 

Levittown, New York: It was farmland north of New York, but the land became unusable making it very cheap. Therefore the land was turned into a housing community. At one point there was one house built every sixteen minuets.

Every house in Levittown was given a washing machine. ‘As an explicit political strategy to not have socialised domestic production, to not have common facilities.’ ‘Replace social engagement with people, through things.’

Freedom from people, but owning ‘things’. Owning things so that you don’t have to have to communicate/interact with people, the devices do it for you.

Unsustainable: ‘The existing housing stock has fewer and fewer people in it.’ There are less people living in a home which was perviously lived in by multiple people. Each home contains a TV, Fridge, etc. but those items are not being shared between a larger group of people.  There is more ‘stuff’ per person = A growth in consumer products.

‘We are free from people, but we find ourselves burdened by things.’ 

In some cultures there is now the idea that people want social interaction and want to be free from things. People are starting to become away of the burdens of ownership. Is this due to the rise in oil prices?

My reflection: It is incredible to see a specific example of a moment in which a community and the inner workings of it were transformed, and by an object that we now take for granted. I have researched Song Dongs installation ‘Waste not’ before (image below). It seems impossible that his mother lived with that much stuff in her house. I wonder how people through history would view and react to the amount of stuff the average person owns now.Song_Dong,_Waste_Not,_2005.jpg

How can a kettle shape our behaviour?

  • Electric Kettle
    • It is easy to boil the kettle, get distracted and have to boil the kettle again; therefore wasting resources.
  • Whistle Kettle
    • The noise forced you to come back to the kettle and remove it form the heat and make your tea, meaning you only boil once. Is that more sustainable?

‘Tech’ isn’t always the best solution, it can support unsustainable behaviours.

Task: Visualization and Presentation

  • Map the ways in which a Fridge/Freezer has changed the social relationships through being adopted or owned.


Tony Fry: Design Futuring (Fry, T., Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics, and New Practice, Bloomsbury, London, 2009, pp. 53-58)

Q. What does he mean by redirective practice?

‘Green’ products sell better. The result of improving the environmental impact of one item can then have a negative consequence because that item now needs to be mass produced. ‘…Any advantage towards sustain-ability is negated by market growth.’ Products are made more sustainable for the individual, but what about the greater impact?

Redirective practice elevates the seriousness, importance and futuring potential of design […] It takes design beyond a disciplinary model’ (p.54).  

Redirective practice uses a different way of thinking. Different from ‘multi-discipline’ and ‘inter-discipline’. ‘Redirective practice means the meta-discipline‘ ‘…a practical transformation of knowledge in action.’ (p.55)

Meta = Is a greek term to mean after or beyond.

Meta-discipline = Thinking through disciplines. Moving our own discipline forward.

Redirection practice is now in the ‘formative stage’. People around the world consider themselves redirection practitioners, and it is now arriving in design education.

‘Design is never just a ‘problem solving activity’.’ (p.57) The context of the problem must be considered.

We must learn from history, and continue to redesign design itself. ‘…Change towards sustainment, cannot occur without design.’ (p.58)

Task: Redirect the object that you critiqued in Part 1 (Fridge/Freezer)

Our fridge, would have a timer so that it could only be opened at meal times. Everyone will therefore have to eat at the same time. To further expand this idea, there could be thumb scanners; everyone eating must scan their thumb on the fridge in order for it to ‘release’ the amount of food required for the meal.

Task: As a group identify your own object to analyse its behavioural/ social conciquences and redirect it.

lecture theature.jpg


Author: Crisiant Williams

I am a Fine Art student, studying at Cardiff School of Art and Design.

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