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Posts Tagged ‘Valerie Casey’

Post-Compostmodern: Now What?

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We’d be lying to you, dear readers, if we didn’t admit that before this weekend’s Compostmodern conference, we were in a very bad place.

Maybe it’s just the typical occupational hazard that comes with being a blogger. But when you’re bombarded, every day, with designers touting the eco-sensibility of their newest utterly useless product you should buy for only $499.99, architects who want to be praised for using some non-toxic paint on their latest 500,000 square foot monstrosity, and creative people using up valuable resources to launch misdirected movements about using up valuable resources, it’s enough to make us want to reach our hands through internet until we can wrangle the mouse from their smug little hands and whack them over the head with it until they get it.

So when spoken word artist Dawn Maxey stood up and read her little poem on eco-hype yesterday (read the full text), we wanted to run up on stage and kiss her. Oh, how we feel you, sister.

Valerie Casey addressed that eco-fatigue we’ve all been feeling. But she coupled it with a very interesting point about movements in general–they spike, then dip, then slowly gain more solid acceptance over time. So don’t despair, we’re all just feeling that spike. The dip has yet to come.

Except now, this movement belongs clearly to designers. Activism didn’t work, said Adam Werbach. We are in need of better stories, said Alex Steffen. We need to stop making stuff, said everybody. And Casey made a great argument for why designers by nature are perfect to spearhead change. But when Casey showed the slide above, which was sent to her by, in her words, a “very prominent and well-known designer,” it really got us fired up. Because every single company we heard represented at this conference–Mark Galbraith and Nau, Jane Savage and Nike, General Electric and VSA Partners, yes, even Werbach and Wal-Mart–has realized the importance of not just being designer-centric, but being designer-dependent in order to make big changes. People: There. Is. No. One. Else.

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Valerie Casey Introduces the Designers Accord

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Jessie Scanlon‘s article sets it up perfectly. Valerie Casey (who used to be at frog, now at IDEO) was on her third cross-country flight that month and had just seen An Inconvenient Truth when it hit her. She decided to start doing some research. She came across an albatross carcass which had 1036 pieces of plastic in it. And she learned about giant sections of the open ocean where all the floating plastic in the world seems to congregate. She was suffering from acute apocaphilia (aka exposure to climate porn) and she was having something that sustainability guru Ray Anderson calls the “spear-in-the-heart” moment. Because her slides were so awesome, we’re going to include as many as we can.

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She decided to start putting together a plan that positioned designers as the leaders of this movement. Apparently, not all designers felt the same way.

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Compostmodern Kicks Off

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We were told there was no wireless here in Morgan Auditorium at the Academy of Art but it seems the sustainability gods are providing a miraculous mystery connection, at least for the moment. So, welcome, welcome to Compostmodern, a one-day conference on design and sustainability in San Francisco. That’s Laura Shore from Mohawk and AIGA’s national board talking about some of AIGA’s sustainable policies to open the show.

Already it feels a bit different—all the conference materials (corn and paper, mostly) are compostable, and advisers stationed at various recycling receptacles can counsel you on how to deconstruct the cafe-bought coffee cup you brought in. Also: no water bottles, no swag bags (yay!), and not even any name badges for the participants.

The conference–and a rather major announcement scheduled for this afternoon–has already garnered some buzz. We told you about Allison Arieff‘s post discussing the Designers Accord (the “Kyoto Treaty for design”), and Jessie Scanlon has written a great piece for BusinessWeek, “A New Model for Green Design” that talks to IDEO’s Valerie Casey, Allan Chochinov of Core77 and Ric Grefé from AIGA about why designers had to take charge.

Marc Alt Introduces the Center for Sustainable Design

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Last year, AIGA officially launched the Center for Sustainable Design, of which Marc Alt is a co-chair (along with the Academy of Art’s Phil Hamlett). Today at Cause/Effect, Alt gave a tour of a new site the group has produced that has lots of original content, and a long list of resources created for designers.

But perhaps most exciting is that Compostmodern, an impressive San Francisco-based AIGA conference, is now the official Center for Sustainable Design conference. Next year’s event will be on January 19, and already some favorites like Alex Steffen, today’s crowdpleaser Scott Stowell, Valerie Casey from IDEO and Mark Galbraith of Nau are on the roster. Register here.