BDW2016 Theme: GROWING SUSTAINABLY
The MENA Design Research Center, the founder and organizer of Beirut Design Week, is a non-profit organization that promotes the role of design in social impact, always taking into account the relevant local and regional context. The protests of summer 2015 around waste management got us thinking about how we can all be more sustainable. As a designer, have you considered the ways your products can be more sustainable? What about your process?
Let’s think through what sustainability means for a second. Sustainability is about developing materials and practices that protect and encourage our resources for future generations. A design product or process can be sustainable in several ways, ten of which we have outlined in our BDW2016: Manifesto. MENA Design Research Center and Beirut Design Week encourage designers to incorporate as many of these principles in their work as possible.
When we think about sustainability, we typically think about the effect we are having on the environment. What happens to the materials that you use when you make your lamp or chair once you throw it away? Are those materials locally sourced? Do you need electricity for your product or design process? Where does the energy come from to light up your installation or the lamp you’ve made? Does the production process release harmful toxins? How much waste do you produce in the process of making your product? How do you minimize the waste produced if say you have excess fabric for your clothes or excess paper cut off while printing a book? What’s more, does your product create waste when you use it? How has it been built to reduce the use of waste?
Sustainability, however, is not just about the physical environment; it’s also about the people involved in making things. Are the people involved in the creation of your productions able to keep on going? Are employees here in the same locality as you, or are they far away in another country with exploitative conditions and wages? How does your design affect the society around you? Does it have a positive impact on the lives of people? Does it support traditional craftsmanship? Does it respect the cultural identity of the people who are interacting with it?
As we develop our program for the year and welcome more participants into Beirut Design Week 2016, we will be asking these questions in order to develop a better understanding of sustainable design in Lebanon.