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Is Good Design Bad for the Planet?

You betcha. As somebody with four iPods — from a clunky old fat white one from the Paleolithic era, to a sleek new iPod Touch - I’ll be the first to confess that I’m a sucker for a sexy gadget, an easy mark for a cool new pair of shoes, and utterly irresponsible when it comes to lavishly illustrated design books. Design lust has helped turn my carbon footprint from a dainty size 7 ½ to something Michael Phelps would appreciate.
That doesn’t square too well with our current passion for sustainable design.

Luckily, some of the world’s savviest designers are also grappling with their own culpability in trashing the planet, and trying to find ways to make cool stuff that doesn’t consume so many resources, or to use recyclable materials to create new ones.

Design blogger and author Marcus Fairs recently highlighted some of the best of these, including a stunning silk scarf by Dutch designer Elsbeth Joy Nielsen, for London’s "Independent." Fairs’s book, "Green Design," will be published next year.

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  • patrick denis

    Linda, I can't agree with you. Good design is not bad design. You confuse good design with trendy gimmicks or gadgets for which you most of hummanity until now has had little concern for their impact. Good design incorporates solutions that successfully deals with all issues of negative impact. I would inform myself better before making judgements and using design in such generic terms. Why don't you have a look for example at the work for eco-efficiency against cradle-to-grave product development which you describe as good design. Cradle-to-cradle cycles, whose materials are perpetually circulated in closed loops is currently true vogue - Good design is not borne out of guilt feelings but proposed intelligent solutions to current problem-solving issues -