The Emergence of Environmentally Conscious Design, from Fringe to Mainstream

1960s-1980s:

The Emergence of Environmentally Conscious Design,

from Fringe to Mainstream

 

 

Growing Dissatisfaction w/ Industrial Design + International Style

• In the late 1950s + the 1960s, design professionals were growing increasingly dissatisfied w/ industrial design’s response to global problems of economic inequity, disease + environmental pollution.

• The Milan Triennale of the 1960s became occasions for exhibitions + conventions about design moving beyond the obsolescence imperative.

 

 

Growing Dissatisfaction w/ Industrial Design + International Style

• By the early 1970s, there was also a widespread loss of faith in International Style aesthetics to solve social problems.

• The failure to build community w/in the many low- cost, high-density housing projects built in this style in the 1950s + the 1960s in US cities = symbolic.

• Amid a climate of critique, the 1960s + 1970s was a fertile period for experiment in alternatives to mainstream industrial design + International Style.

 

 

Victor Papanek (b. Austrian, active Britain, 1926-98) + James Hennessey, prototype for cooling unit for perishable foods using no electricity, c. 1971. Published in Papanek, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change (1971).

Papanek advocated environmental conservation + addressing basic needs in developing countries so people could depend less on major external technological investment.

 

 

Cover of Nomadic Furniture (1973), the first in a series of two such titles published by Papanek + Hennessey.

Note the subtitle of Papanek + Hennessey’s book: “How to Build and Where to Buy Lightweight Furniture That Folds, Inflates, Knocks Down, Stacks, Or Is Disposable and Can Be Recycled—with Many Easy to Follow Illustrations.”

This project reveals not only a conservation- minded approach to design but also one that emphasizes self-reliance (DIY) rather than dependence on what the authors saw as a wasteful consumerist culture + economic system.

 

 

ADHOCISM (1960s-1970s)

• The Adhocism movement, to which the Nomadic Furniture series partly belongs, advocated improvised building by people who don’t need to be professional architects from resources ready at hand.

• Architectural critic + historian Charles Jencks defined it in a book: Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation (1972).

• Adhocism advocated self-reliance, conservation, creativity + decentralization of power to define one’s environment + life (independence from big corporations + government).

 

 

Drop City, U.S.A., 1965-77. Colorado. Dome housing fabricated by artists + others who “dropped out” of mainstream society, using tops of cars from scrapyards for 25 cents each.

-An example of adhocism in practice: recycled materials to cut down waste + DIY.

-Drop City, an experimental housing project begun mostly by artists, also exemplified the amateurism of the movement—encouraging people to embrace DIY despite not being professional architects.

 

 

Joan Grossman, dir. Drop City. Film trailer. 2012.

 

 

Richard Buckminster Fuller (U.S., 1895- 1983), patent drawing of the Dymaxion (“dynamic” + “maximum” + ”tension”) Bathroom, 1940

Papanek + Adhocists alike were inspired by the self-taught architect Buckminster Fuller: early pioneer of environmentally conscious design. He had critical acclaim + attention in the 1960s, but most of his ideas were much earlier (beginning 1930s) + were unrealized.

Intended for mass production, but never so produced, his “Dymaxion Bathroom” = complete w/ fixtures + plumbing in only 5 sq.ft. of floor space. It weighed only 420 lbs. + had 2 sections: sink + toilet, bath + shower.

Maximum economy in $ + materials.

 

 

R. Buckminster Fuller, Geodesic Dome model, 1952. Elastic cord + metal. H: 20 ¼ “. Diam: 39”. Model makers = students of Buckminster Fuller. MoMA, NYC.

His most influential design = the “geodesic dome,” made from triangulated rods to be strong yet light + allow customized divisions of space.

 

 

R. Buckminster Fuller, Geodesic dome as United States Pavillon of the Milan Triennale, 1957.

-The geodesic dome design was flexible in working w/ a variety of other materials. -Here, fabric = suspended from the structure. In on next slide, plastic panels were used. -Flexible also in scale of execution. This one is relatively small-scale w/ 1 triangle layer.

 

 

R. Buckminster Fuller, Montral: United States Pavilion for EXPO 67: Man and His World, 1967. Given as gift to Montreal. Destroyed by fire 1976. Restored 1992.

This one shows just how complex the geodesic dome could be.

This one = as tall as a 20-storey building.

By 1967, “Bucky” = media star (lectures @ universities, TV + magazine interviews) in addition to being the Counterculture’s inspiration for “drop cities.”

In early 1960s, he was chosen to design this structure, the US Pavilion @ EXPO ‘67 (the World’s Fair).

It housed an exhibition, entitled Creative America, featuring art + technology.

 

 

R. Buckminster Fuller, door of US Pavilion @ Montreal World Exposition, 1967.

Detail showing the complex construction of triangulated rods in this example of a geodesic dome.

 

 

R. Buckminster Fuller, Montreal: World Exposition, US Pavilion at night, 1967.

-Light was controlled by mechanically operated shades. -Exhibits were on 6 floors of platforms accessible by escalators. -In 1968, it received a design award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

 

 

1980s: The Rise of “Green Design”

• By the mid-1980s, environmentally conscious design, newly called “green design,” was becoming more popular. Businesses began to recognize eco-conscious design as a potential market niche AKA “green capitalism.”

• A symptom of this mainstreaming: Beginning in the late 1980s, there was a proliferation of exhibitions + publications on “green design,” which suggest its acceptance by more consumers + businesses.

• Examples: the landmark Green Designer exh. @ Design Center, London, 1986, + publications The Green Consumer Guide, 1988, + The Green Capitalists, 1989.

 

 

Body Shop store, 1980s. Toiletrees + cosmetics company.

-Pioneering example of what was popularized as “green design” + “green capitalism.” -Success story of the green corp., founded 1976 in UK by Anita Roddik, inspiring other companies. -Note refillable container station in store!

 

 

Organic cereal packaging, c. 1988. Cardboard. 8 x 10”. Manufactured by New England Organic Produce Center.

In the 1970s, organic food industries began as part of the rise of intertwined movements of environmentalism + health consciousness, esp. concern about the effects of industrialized agriculture on health.

In the 1980s + 90s, the label “organic” gained popularity + became part of a growing convenience-food market.

As “organic” became a lucrative market niche, organic products attracted top talent + resources for design + marketing.

To attract a larger market, aesthetics would increasingly become as important as appeal to ethics in eco-conscious design.

 

 

Lush “shampoo bars,” c. 2018.

Here is a recent example of the merger of successful business + eco-conscious product via sensual appeal.

Lush designed a shampoo that is its own container. It is supposed to last as long as 3 medium shampoo bottles (c. $10.45–$14.95 as of 2018).

 

 

Lush store display of the package-free, long-lasting product “shampoo bars,” c. 2018.

This store display design makes evocative use of language + the product appeals to multiple senses (w/ color, texture, scent), thus making an eco- friendly product attractive (+ marketable) to consumers who may or may not be eco-conscious.

 

 

Impossible Foods, Impossible Burger. Launched 2016. -Here is the ultimate convergence of aesthetic design, eco-consciousness + marketing savvy! -A massive market success, sold first through select fast-food restaurants, such as Burger King. -Craftily advertised as “plant-based,” rather than the more alienating “vegan” or “vegetarian,” and designed to replicate ground beef in every sensory respect.

 

 

Discussion of Readings

Victor Papanek (1971): 1. According to Papanek, what is the problem

with industrial design, and what is(are) his solution(s)?

2. How does Papanek define design, and why do you think, in the context of his argument, he defines it that way?

3. Why do you think, in the context of his argument, he is against patents + copyrights? Do you agree with him?

Iván Asin (2020): 1. What does Asin consider essential to “D4S”? 2. Which of Asin’s suggestions for D4S can be

most easily implemented today? Which are harder? Why?

 

 

1980s—2000s:

Early “Branding”

 

 

1980 to c. 2004: Early “Branding”

• The mid-1980s saw the beginning of a paradigm shift among corporations in advanced consumer economies: to define themselves no longer as producers of goods but as producers of brands (identities + identifications in the form of concepts images + consumer experiences)–thus making marketing the core activity + financial investment of corporations.

• This shift –as aided by postmodern conditions of outsourcing + use of part-time or temp. labor, which increasingly meant the cheapest offshore production.

 

 

View of 42nd Street, “Times Square,” NYC, c. 2000.

The power + value of brands (independent of their products) was demonstrated famously in 1988: Philip Morris bought Kraft for $12.6 billion, 6 X what the company was worth on paper. Price = for the word Kraft. This sale quantified what was earlier intangible.

 

 

”Branding” v. Advertising

• Another temporal marker of branding’s ascent: The 1998 United Nations Human Development Report stated that growth in global ad spending ($435 billion) had outpaced the growth of the world economy by 1/3.

• However, advertising, like celebrity endorsements, cultural sponsorships + logo licensing = only a small part of branding, which encompasses the entire process of defining + popularizing the brand.

• In an increasingly competitive marketplace of brands, branding knows no boundaries + has required colonizing new frontiers of cultural + physical spaces not yet branded but open to privatizing/corporate influences.

 

 

Late 1990s article reporting on the trend toward turning airport concourses into shopping mals featuring outlets by major brands from Gap to Victoria’s Secret to Starbucks.

In recent decades, branding operations have extended to or have become more elaborated in institutional spaces previously unbranded….

 

 

Airports + airplanes (as malls)

Train stations (same)

Museums (beyond gift shops, as museums become more like malls)

Schools (branded educational materials or research in exchange for funding, food service, et.)

Libraries Churches Military bases Hospitals…etc…..

 

 

Claritas (precision marketing) Company’s PRIZM system for breaking down “lifestyle clusters”— defined by variables including demographics, psychographics, consume preferences, activities, cultural + political outlooks—by zip code.

-Branding has relied increasingly on market segmentation. -This has accelerated + been refined since the late 106-s w/ evolution of market research, as in Claritas’s development of “lifestyle cluster” analysis in the 1980s. -By 2004, Claritas could break down cluster data to residential block + household levels.

 

 

Common Early Branding Tactics (Before Social Media)

 

 

View outside Niketown, London, c. 2000.

Branding tactic 1: Making associations: Example: architecture of Niketowns, beg. early 1990s. A longstanding technique of upscale marketing = drawing formal analogies between a brand’s retail spaces + institutions of high culture (e.g., art galleries).

 

 

Niketown stores were developed in cities w/ relatively high median incomes + were designed like museums to appeal to upscale targets: “exhibits” w/ pedestals, displays of collectible memorabilia among items for sale, display niches w/ curatorial explanatory texts + more space given to display than merchandise.

 

 

From 2006 brochure for Mini Cooper, obtained from Universal City, California.

Branding tactic 2: Storytelling: To identify brand w/ particular people + lifestyle types, use of narrative techniques.

 

 

From 2006 brochure for Mini Cooper, obtained from Universal City, California.

-The narrative(s) = constructed not only in single spreads but throughout the brochure. -Narrative techniques: scene setting, character development, plot.

 

 

From 2006 brochure for Mini Cooper, obtained from Universal City, California.

How does this two-page spread in the brochure tell a story?

 

 

Branding Tactic 3: Creation of Media Formats

• Creating formats gives media brands (all types: TV, web, etc.) their “personalities.” Formats encompass qualities of setting (wardrobes, décor), plot (pacing, sequences + their length, kinds of action), p.o.v. (camera angles, perspectives, “voice”) + graphics (including animation).

• Formats = crucial to the definition of media brands.

• In the era of branding, formats = designed as much to repel audiences outside the target market as to attract the targeted.

 

 

Branding Tactic 4: Environmental Theming

• Theming = design of spaces to evoke other places or times. Involves theatrical techniques of scene-setting + designing spaces to “stage” the special events (e.g., entertainments) or normal activities (e.g., shopping) to be encouraged.

• Like the other branding tactics, theming = not invented in the contemporary period (recall: World’s Fairs, followed by theme parks). But it is a powerful tool in branding.

 

 

Branding Tactic 4: Environmental Theming

• Theming may be more or less overt.

• Overt theming makes symbolic representations of the theme.

• Less overt theming makes formal analogies to a theme w/o iconic resemblances to it.

 

 

Jon Jerde, City Walk, Universal City, California, developed 1992.

Urbanism = a (less overt) theme in some suburban mall design, as here.

 

 

Interior with restaurants inside The Venetian Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 2007.

-Example of overt theming: The Venetian (here simulating Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy). Also an example of the overtly-themed environment functioning as a mall.

 

 

Interior with shopping strip within The Venetian Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 2007.

There must be a spatial progression, as here, that extends the theme in a way that incorporates distinct component brands w/ their own aesthetics w/o disrupting the mall theme or the components’ styles.

Important to this negotiation = placement of pedestrian passageways, seating, advertising, stores + restaurants.

 

 

Interior of shopping strip within The Venetian Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 2007

Transitions between the architectural style of the themed environment + that of the branded component (here: store) show designers’ attempt avoid conflict between the themed mall’s aesthetics + those of its branded components.

This conflict is partly avoided well before the architectural design phase. In the market research phase, developers choose mall stores + restaurants, etc., for compatibility of their brand images + target markets.

 

 

Designing Branded Experiences

• The theming (overt or less overt) of spaces is a way of designing branded experiences. (brand-distinctive fusions of entertainment shopping).

• This involves construction of “scenes” (overtly symbolic or not) + transitional passages. Movement is propelled by scenic “landmarks” (unique stand-out features)

 

 

Designing Branded Experiences

• Ultimately, the consumer’s relation to the environment is a loosely “scripted” interaction + navigation (parallels in non- architectural space: video games or web sites as ”cybermalls”).

• Disneyland is the prototypical historical example of theming used for branding via the mall type.

 

 

Hayden Saunders of marketing firm Epsilon EMEA, from PPT presentation of 2011.

-Experience Design/Experience Marketing: emerges mid-1990s.

-It represents the next level of collaboration between design + marketing. From a marketing perspective, experience is engagement w/ a brand via a system of “touch points”—product, packaging, message, consumer service, social media, etc.

 

 

Capital One Bank lobby-as-café. Image from Capital One website, December 2018.

-From a design perspective, experiences must be “staged” to create interactions between consumer + brand so that the experiences are positive + memorable.

-Brand managers B. Joseph Pine II + James H. Gilmore were early + influential theorists of experience design + experience marketing. Their 1998 article “Welcome to the Experience Economy” defined the historical origins + basic tenets of so-called “experience design.”

 

 

Discussion of Reading: B. Joseph Pine II + James H. Gilmore, “Welcome to the Experience Economy” (1998):

1. The authors briefly explain the historical origins of the “experience economy.” What is the ”experience economy + what did it evolve from?

2. According to the authors what is the goal of designing ”experiences”?

3. After considering what the authors say are

a. the 2 dimensions of “experiences,” b. the 4 realms of “experiences,” and c. the 5 key principles of “experience design,”

come up with a contemporary example of “experience design” that you think is successful. Present to the class what it is, how the “experience” was designed + why the group thinks it’s successful. (If the group disagrees, present the disagreement for class discussion.)

 

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