Lecture #6 Questioning Material Culture

Sylwia Ulicka, a designer from Puebla, explains that there have to be global actions to save our ecosystem because the regulations that are in place now are not sufficient. Millennium goals were not accomplished. There are three major aspects that need to be considered when it comes to sustainable development: the ecological, economical and social dimensions. This is called the triangle model of sustainable development. It aims to maximize economic gain while minimizing or eliminating environmental and social damage. I think the triangle model of sustainable development is helpful and can be used to save our ecosystem in the future if we use it properly.

The eco-efficiency approach comprises three main principles: reduce, reuse and recycle. We’ve convinced ourselves that these principles (and new technologies) help us to be more eco-friendly, but this is not always the case. Carbon dioxide emissions continued to grow and increase by almost 60% between 1970 and 2010 while global biodiversity decreased by 30% between 1970 and 2008. The growth of the population and the increase in consumption are the two main causes of this loss. 

In his book, Alastair Fuad-Luke describes three types of design that typically play out at three levels. At the first level, there are social design or user-centred design. At the second level are gender design and design for social innovation. These first two levels are usually economically viable. Third level designs are speculative design or radical design, which are outside of the paradigm. Walker S. proposes that for a candle holder you could just use a potato and a fork, but this is not aesthetically pleasing to us, so we have designed candle holders. Design is not only a problem-solving activity. Personally, I agree that aesthetics are just as important as functionality. A product can work perfectly, but not look appealing and therefore nobody wants it. 

Sylwia Ulicka has worked with students on objects of discomfort and describes them as being radical, critical and speculative. We cannot talk about sustainable design without questioning the status quo. (www.objetosincomodos.com) I found the project “casa de campagna” especially interesting. In 2019 there was an earthquake in Mexico with a magnitude of 8.2, which destroyed thousands of homes. There was a proposal to help with the reconstruction of the most damaged estates by donating about 20% of the campaign budget, but this, unfortunately, did not happen. Therefore, students decided to make a tent out of posters of the campaign.