From Gadafi to Eco-feedback: design and ingenuity
Article for online trends magazine TheTrendNet
Let’s begin another post by referring to the revolutions occurring in the Arab nations, specifically, the revolution taking place in Libya today. We’re not going to attempt to make a profound evaluation of the revolution itself this time, but rather the reaction it has received throughout the rest of the world.
It is clear that in view of Gadafi’s pedantic barbarism (and barbaric pedantry) the whole world’s governments have been forced to position themselves explicitly against him, but how fearfully! The power the Lebanese leader still has over oil and our economies’ dependency on this source of energy turn Gadafi into the worst enemy, because his power is far greater than we can imagine. But perhaps imagination is exactly what we need to find renewable energy sources. This is one of the revolution’s many consequences that has hit home: the urgent need to raise awareness and support initiatives reminding us of the importance of finding new sources of energy and taking care of the environment.
And now, let’s talk about design, precisely, after this initial reflection, in order to present something called Eco-feedback, a form of communicating, taking part, in and promoting approaches of environmental sustainability and care through design. It involves including certain information on a product so that consumers can be responsible for its usage and know how to recycle it correctly, making a contribution to caring for the environment. This means that the phrase; “Before printing this email, consider if it is really necessary” is already Eco-feedback. But there are other examples that stand out due to their design, like this towel dispenser made for the WWF (”World Wildlife Fund”), campaign, that doesn’t need much explanation and certainly doesn’t need instructions.
Eco-feedback’s intended reactions are achieved through a combination of play and design. To illustrate this end, here are three examples from DDB, a Swedish studio that recognises the potential of having fun.
1. Bottle Bank Arcade or how to turn bottle recycling into something of a video-game. During the time it was in use, recycling went up by up to twice the normal amount.
2. How to make people see throwing rubbish away as something surprising.
3. Yes, if the stairs are a piano, who is going to bother to use the escalators?
Examples of initiatives that through design, promote an increasingly necessary attitude that celebrates the capacity of ingenuity. Maybe this is our own particular revolution as designers against all the Gadafis who not only deny the rights of the people, but also those of the environment.