This project explores the historical conditions for, and development of, sustainable design. Today, sustainability is a key feature of all design practice, education, research and mediation. However, the history of this 'green revolution' remains to be written. Understanding that history is essential in order to build a solid knowledge base for present and future decision-making staking out the road to a sustainable future. The immense societal significance of sustainability and the crucial role played by design in its past, present and future, makes it a highly topical subject for design history in particular and for research in the humanities in general. The project has shown that traces of a rising concern with issues such as ecology, nature, and sustainability can be identified in a broad range of design discourses, from the UK-centred Appropriate Technology Movement, via Italian radical design and US counter-culture, to Nordic design education and trade magazines. The first two doctoral theses emerging from the project were completed in 2017 and discuss, respectively, key design ideological responses to the sustainability imperative since the 1960s, and convergences between ecology and cybernetics in the discourse surrounding the design exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape (MoMA, 1972). In September 2017 the project managers organised the conference Making and Unmaking the Environment - Design History Society Annual Conference 2017 at the University of Oslo, gathering 170 delegates from 30 land. The project has produced a number of international peer-reviewed publications, and more are in preparation.
This project will explore the historical conditions for, and development of, sustainable design. Today, sustainability is an essential parameter in all design practice, education, research and mediation. However, this 'green revolution' is a glaringly whi te spot on the design historical map, still awaiting its scholarly historicization. Historical understanding of and critical reflection on the rise of sustainability as the primordial trope in design discourse is essential to building a solid knowledge ba se and to underpin present and future decision-making. Given the immense societal significance of sustainability and the crucial role played by design in its past, present and future, the project will also have great relevance both for contemporary discou rse and cultural history broadly defined. Researching the design history of sustainability requires new, interdisciplinary collaborations and approaches, as well as new methods of inquiry. To that end, this project will forge bonds with the field of envir onmental history, and explore the untapped but promising potential of the Digital Humanities in a sustained effort to renew the discipline of design history more in tune with an ever more pervasive design culture.