What Is Ecological Design?

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As he discusses in his book Ecological Design, Sim Van Der Ryn makes a very important statement: “In many ways, the environmental crisis is a design crisis” (Van Der Ryn 1996:24). That is, it is a matter of how things are made and how the environment is used. For many, “green” is merely something that combines or replaces everyday products with recycled ones, or perhaps has a few good ideas about raising awareness for environmental issues. However, this is not enough. The word “sustainable” in the dictionary is defined as something that is “able to be maintained,” which doesn’t do justice to the type of change that needs to be made in how we relate to the natural world. Van Der Ryn maybe has the right idea in calling it “ecological design”, …show more content…
For many, it means breaking bad habits as much as it means acquiring new ones. This is also why a philosophical shift needs to take place; sustainable design requires a whole new approach to what it means to be a designer. This is an essential distinction to make because in the early development of this idea, people merely viewed sustainable design as an aesthetic undertaking, which it most definitely is not. “Sustainable design is an approach to design and not an aesthetic exercise and thus it can never go out of style or be discussed as a fad, as some critics have described it” (McLennan 2004:5). This is similar to Jedlicka’s idea of adopting a holistic, or systems view, rather than a linear view of design. When dealing with nature, it would be wise to apply organic solutions. “Rather than seeing design problems as something to be divided into the smallest bits, the systems view sees them as opportunities for interconnecting the world back together” (Jedlicka 2010:146-147). That is to say, as a philosophical approach it can encompass any form of design, really it can extend to any project within the design category – from graphic design to fashion design to architecture. As sustainable design continues to develop its own concepts and principles, it will begin to migrate from the outer periphery to the inner workings of design, and integrate into every element of the design

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