Confessions of a Sixties Idealist
Article by: Susan S. Szenasy
Pages 20-24


Table of Contents

Susan S. Szenasy, a professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, examines the responsibility of a designer to design with sustainability in mind. We are called to be stewards of our natural environment, Szensasy claims, and designers should abandon industrialization in favor of ecologically-minded thinking. Architects and developers have an obligation to combine a goal of sustainability with the materials they are already using in their line of work; design can reshape institutions, and doing without ill-gotten luxuries would help keep our planet intact.
An electric wire reel repurposed as a table. (From Wikipedia)

Szenasy, along with her class of twenty-eight professionals pursuing careers in architecture; interior, product and graphic design; fashion; and photography, probe "how designers can become active participants in the great system of living organisms that dwell" on our planet. (21) As designers, acting on your "obligation to [the] human family can result in rewards far beyond" what you could have ever anticipated. (22) Designing for humanity entails designing with necessary resources in mind.


Good design and responsible design aren't mutually exclusive. Why can't each be combined into a simple design principle that is practiced by designers all across the board?

Well... it can. Multinational business are already doing so. Corporations like Ikea are modifying the methods in which they procure and utilize materials and distribute their furniture to reflect a growing interest in sustaining our environment. These modifications reduce negative impacts on the environment and, consequently, build a better brand for the corporation at an opportune time when consumers are already concerned with purchasing and utilizing "green" products.

Sustainable design is good design. A design does not have to look drastically different to become environmentally-friendly. It is only when "sustainable" design and "good" design become synonymous that we will be able to eliminate these unnecessary, descriptive words.

"We'll just call it design - a noble and necessary human activity." (24)