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Feb 04, 2007


Jeff Gill

Ben, this seems like an appropriate place to recommend

John Thackara: http://www.doorsofperception.com/

Worldchanging: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Worldchanging-Users-Guide-21st-Century/dp/0810930951/sr=8-1/qid=1170632626/ref=pd_ka_1/203-0840681-9723124?ie=UTF8&s=books



Fantastic post and very helpful.

The bit about toaster and kettles made me think about the role of great industrial design in cracking this problem.

About 14 years ago I got given an Alessi kettle and a Dualit toaster, because I was young and liked having lovely things around me. They were expensive and rather indulgent - the sort of thing youd expect a wannabe ad man to kit his flat out with in the early '90s.

But 14 years on and two kids later they are still our kettle and toaster. The Bird shaped whistle from the kettle is toast and the timer on the toaster sometimes gets stuck. But they still work.

In part because they were well made and in part because they are very simple. There is nothing to go wrong with the kettle and nothing complicated about the toaster.

Where perhaps we are tempted to consider good design marginal to the task of reducing our carbon footprint, its clear that the better designed the stuff around us the less likely we are to need to replace it every 18 months.


As part of my commitment to sustainability I'm going to re-cycle your ideas and use them again.

I'm even going to claim some as my own.

Here's my favourite example of being green - http://www.buildagreenbakery.com/ - a cool little neighbourhood bakery in NYC. Hopefully there will be more and more shops like this going forward.

Oh, and did I mention that emeco chairs - http://www.emeco.net/ - a design classic no less - make chairs that last 150 years. How's that for sustainability? So being green doesn't have to come at the expense of good design.


This feels like sustainability day. Wonderful essay! I love the examples. Here in Orlando, FL, I haven't lived in one place yet that offers recycling. That really urks me. I know it's available in some parts, but that's just sad. Not to mention the amount of waste I see pouring out of the public trash bins. The hardest thing to change is a person's idea that waste doesn't matter. If everybody cared, many things would change.

Currently I'm working on a personal design project focusing on the idea of green. I feel we're still in the "hippie" era of green. Too many people relate it to beards, sandles, and tie-dyes. We need to take the color out of the name, and replace it with the idea of sustainability.

Jeffre Jackson

I lived in Berkeley California for 10 years where I shopped at the Berkeley Bowl, a fantastic, large (it was built in an old bowling alley), market where fresh food was stacked in bins instead of packaging. When I left Berkeley, I was struck by the prevalence of bright blue in most other supermarkets, a color that has nothing to do with actual food and everything to do with the incredible amount of packaging it gets wrapped in.


In an effort to design responsibly with an eye on the future of my unborne children I have been following up on your idea).
First up I have no affiliations with FontFont, but thought that they have an interesting point about saving paper; their MT font (by Mr E. Spiekermann) claims to use less space, thereby less paper than other typefaces, despite not being a condensed version. That said, maybe one ought to just use condensed versions and save a twig...


Small thing, I know, but you showed two different Mcqeen products. Not sure what the intent was but the first one has no remote and does basically fill the box (my g/f's son has got one). The second one comes with a remote and so the packaging is bigger to accomodate this. Mcqeen appears to be smaller next to the open box, as you've placed the attention on Mcqeen and the box, and diverted it from the remote that was also in the box.

If you're going to use an item to demonstrate an argument, keep it consistant.

However, the box doesn't just provide protection, it also provides a better way to physically display the product: a whole bunch of shrink-wrapped cars won't actually stack on the toy-store shelf. It also keeps all the relevant items together: Mcqeen, the remote, the instructions and batteries (if included), again not something that can be achieved with a lesser form of packaging.


Rainbow-Fire2 - the toy store shelf is exactly the bit we should be rethinking and redesigning. Do we need to see a product in a flashy box to buy it?

Should we invent a better method of buying things that means we just go the shop to pick stuff up?

Do we have some kind of generic reusable packaging?

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