Everyone operating in the worlds of architecture, design and technology knows that the world has changed since 2008, but the job of identifying and describing exactly how is only just beginning to happen. It was the contention of the convener of the first BE OPEN conference, Francesco Morace, that three new relationships in the world of design had undergone a huge and important shift. Morace suggests that a fundamental realignment in thinking has occurred in over the issue of sustainability, the idea of happiness and perhaps most fundamentally the relationship between the local and the universal. These theories were tested by the inquiring minds of some of the leading figures in the design world.
Claire Brass, formerly of the Design Council in the UK and now of the SEED Foundation outlined her project Food Loop, which is a design-led social enterprise that offers local authorities a blueprint system for localised composting of biodegradable waste on housing estates. Her vision of how food waste could be turned into compost and how it could become a product in a token based economy, formalising the existing relationships enjoyed by allotment owners and gardeners into a complex bartering system. Certainly if Morace is correct and this is a crucial paradigm in our lives, then a great deal of work on creating an alternative economies needs to still be done.
Other contributors such as Sass Brown, author of the book “Eco Fashion”, were more interested in championing those who have adapted existing commercial models to a more sustainable one. Brown championed a range of companies that she felt were exploding the myth that sustainable design is bad design, or just basic design. Through highlighting the range of companies producing desirable and well-designed apparel she felt that she was part of a general shift in the ethical outlook of consumer culture. Luisa Collina meanwhile addressed the way in which design students, professors, researchers and institutions can shape a more sustainable future. Collina explored new methods for the dissemination and valorisation of the best ideas and solutions for issues relating to sustainability.