Design Makes a Difference: The Ideas

Part of the TreeHugger mantra is “design makes a difference.” By changing the way we make things, we can effectively nip the problem in the bud, so to speak; by designing out the need for waste and designing in smarter materials and better production methods, the world can not only cut back on the extraneous waste caused by poor design, but use smart design to benefit both those in the developing world and here in the land of designed obsolescence and iPod worship. Here’s what we’re talking about here.

1) Good design can make something as simple as riding public transport more popular and more effective, as this graphic design promoting London’s Underground [] shows.
2) Design is about more than changing your perception; this study [] proves that good design is good for your health too. Conducted by Queens University researcher Karen Parent, the study of a new, well-designed hospital wing found that, among other examples, floors made of rubber or sheet vinyl reduce noise for patients. As a result, elderly patients, in particular, are less likely to need sleeping pills, less likely to suffer confusion because of the medications, therefore less likely to fall and, Parent concludes, more likely to have better outcomes.
3) This concept is well summarized by this discussion [] about “ethical design,” which makes asking the question “Is a green McMansion really green?” (for example) part of every design decision, architecture and otherwise.

4) “Design Like You Give a Damn” is a seminal work by Cameron Sinclair (the guy behind Architecture for Humanity), clearly summarizing the need to include “why?” in addition to “what” we design. The projects demonstrate ingenuity and cleverness about doing more with less, and efficiently living with less, and should be looked at as models for us all, for we keep thinking that “It can’t happen here” but as we have learned from San Francisco and New Orleans, it can and it will. Read our review [] for more.
5) As an example, check out how Architecture for Humanity’s work in Biloxi, Mississippi has exemplified how design can step up [] in the wake of a big disaster.

6) The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York recently hosted “Design for the Other 90%,” an exhibition that helps tackle a huge problem: Of the world’s total population of 6.5 billion, 5.8 billion people, or 90%, have little or no access to most of the products and services many of us take for granted; in fact, nearly half do not have regular access to food, clean water, or shelter. Read our review [] for more details, and take a closer look at one of the features, the Lifestraw [].

How can design make a difference in your life? Stay tuned for some more mainstream examples that you can incorporate into your life, later this week.