Sustainability brings us echoes, arriving from the most diverse sources, from a contemporary speech centered in the desirable evolution of a simultaneously political, economical, environmental and, of course, cultural conscience regarding the impact of man’s changing presence and action in the world. Therefore, the concept emerges in association with an increasing insistence on practices that define – and are defined by – design.
To think design from sustainability, DESIGNA’s second edition theme, contemplates the need to reflect on design’s role and responsibility in a complex system dictated by the tensions of a liberal economy built over hegemonic-predisposed production and communication mechanisms, formatted to a worldwide scale throughout the last decades. The complexity of this system reflects the itinerary of an industrial and technological society towards a world apparently ruled by information, reflecting not only the course of design itself, but also its leadership in the definition of production and consumption logics set upon a philosophy of project whose ambition easily abandons the object’s confined universe (in its most distinctive configurations) to set foot in the creation of the total environment that frames it.
Even if the market’s expansion demands the industry and therefore design to, together with the satisfaction of consumer’s needs, diversify forms and explore the superfluous in order to create an economic value that will end up generating a culture of dissatisfaction and squander, nonetheless last decades have been promoting a speech increasingly defined by rationalization and resource management strategies. As a result, designers are confronted with a new challenged, outlined by optimization and concession, within which they are led to think themselves as a sort of social programmers, trying to articulate ecological logics and practices able to redefine production from a new table of principles – such as recycling, non pollution, durability, efficiency, maximum advantage and minimum impact – and, consequently, (re)establishing the balance among the market’s needs, production’s possibilities, consumer’s satisfaction and the environment.
Therefore, it’s not difficult to apprehend the uneasiness and apprehension that come with considering the role of design in a society still abounding of an euphoric, misguided and naïf belief in the unstoppable character of technological progress, so many times defined by mere entertainment. DESIGNA 2012 would thus like to contribute to criticize that role, pointing the cultural debate to the project’s teleology and leading the scientific community, once again, to a joint reflection about the possibility (or impossibility) or a “nicer, more humane, domestic, habitable, tolerant and pleasant” design that reflects a sort of collective intelligentsia, as established by Medelín’s Maniphesto, in 2002.