Last week I was in Amsterdam at Beyond Green 2009 with the central theme of Good Design. The day was filled with inspiring lectures but the one I enjoyed the most was Carolyn Strauss from slowLab. She titled her talk Slow Design and focused not only on the slowing down and repairing of objects or products but urged us as designers to take some distance and start looking at repairing behaviour, relationships and in essence, society. She talked about the need for both slow and fast knowledge to best understand how we can create change and that this change can also happen in small places. In short she reminded us that being a designer is a huge responsibility!
The was also a short video presentation by Monique van Heist talking about her new project called Hello Fashion: a collection which no longer changes with each season but instead the timeless designs are added to a catalogue and are continually available.
Beyond Green was specifically geared towards students and teachers from Dutch Design Academies, which created a lively mix of ages and disciplines exchanging ideas, experience, questions and expertise. Despite the small group of students at the back of the hall who seemed more interested in their mobile phones than the vast source of knowledge being presented throughout day, it seemed the event was a great success and it was inspiring to talk to so many people each with a unique take on what sustainability is today and what it should be in the future. Although I do think we have to be careful not to get too caught up in our bubbles, mixing only with like minded colleagues as it is the people who don’t yet understand the importance of social, cultural and environmental sustainability who need our attention the most.