A New Book: "Design is the Problem"


Industrial designer Nathan Shedroff has recently published released his latest book, Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must Be Sustainable. He explores many of the ideas and themes in a long interview with Core77's Editor-in-chief Allan Chochinov.

Chochinov raves about the book.

Filled with insanely pragmatic advice, persuasive argument, and impassioned calls for action, Nathan's book is essential reading for all designers, design students, business people, business students, innovation specialists, and advocates of all stripes.

Shedroff clearly does understand the power of objects to affect people's beliefs and values.

Connecting to people's values and meanings is going to be critical in order to change behaviors and choices and reach more sustainable goals. There's nothing inherently off-putting about sustainability at all. I challenge you to find someone who is in favor of purposely ruining the future. The problem is in helping people become aware of their impacts and connecting their perfectly adequate values to the effects their activities have. Most of the issues and imperatives around sustainability are simply invisible to people and if we can make them visible, in their languages, we can get more people on board. It's more than merely design but design thinking and processes can contribute tremendously to making this happen quickly.

But like so many other designers, he appears to have failed to recognize that sustainability is much more than greening or reducing unsustainability. The main chapters of the book ring with familiar themes: reduce, reuse, recycle, and, a new one for Shedroff, restore. I have ordered and will read the book, but if the interview tells the whole, or most of, the story, I suspect I will be disappointed. But only in that designers continue to follow traditional paths. They have power to change behavior towards authentic satisfaction and true sustainability, not merely to respond what the market tells their clients.