Design Is The Problem

April 7, 2009 — 6 Comments

Nathan Shedroff has just written what is likely to become the sustainability manual for designers. Design Is The Problem is a thorough and informative survey of just about every aspect of sustainable design. It covers important frameworks, schools of thought and specific tools. It’s interspersed with good examples and case studies that reveal the complexity of the issue and that force the reader to engage with the topic rather than assume simple answers, which of course don’t exist. Design Is The Problem does not go into significant depth on each topic but it will give you a place to start on pretty much anything related to sustainability. Definitely an important book to have in your library.

Tim Brown


6 responses to Design Is The Problem

  1. I’m really enjoying this book so far. Thankfully Nathan’s writing is conversational and concise. Secondly it’s objective and doesn’t philosophically wax on. I’ve only previously read about 3 of the sustainability frameworks, in addition to having some generalist notions of LCA.

    This truly belongs on the desk of every product designer and brand manager.

  2. Great, thanks for the tip. I’m going to pick this up.

  3. In the spirit of sustainability I really welcome the idea of offering a PDF version.
    Just bought it. Now I have something to read for tonight :-)

  4. I have not read the book, but intend to.

    However, I do not agree with the title.

    I took a course on international development and I came away with one conclusion. The problem is very much still definition of the problem not designation to the problem. The two must be treated separately.

    As Einstein said, spend ninety percent of the effort defining the problem and ten percent solving it.

    We are always jumping to initiate a solution before we understand the fundamentals of what we are trying to solve.

    Is sustainability the problem? Then why does the author say the problem is design?

  5. I haven’t read the book..but would like to

    however, i think when the author says that design is the problem i think he means the “design process” followed is the real problem. It is alarming to read a title of this sort, which works to get the book and read it!

  6. I dare transcribe a paragraph from the introduction of the book (fair use I’d say), to state that the title of the book is just a catch, a marketing gimmick, and what’s inside is, instead, an interesting framework to innitiate discussion, as in this very same post, about the responsability design has on processes, experiencies, and sustainability:

    This isn’t a book about sustainable design. Instead, it’s a book about how the design industry can approach the world in a more sustainable way. Design is interconnected—to engineering, management, production, customer experiences, and to the planet. Discussing and comprehending the relationship between design and sustainability requires a systems perspective to see these relationships clearly.

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