Sustainability means “development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Although primarily focused on ecology and the environment, it also involves social, cultural and economic aspects of life.
The MENA Design Research Center -founder and organizer of Beirut Design Week- is a non-profit organization that focuses on the role of Design in social impact, always taking into account the relevant local and regional context(s). The summer of 2015 marked the beginning of a major waste management crisis that led to massive protests on a national scale in Lebanon. Design can offer many solutions to the issues that arise from waste management and develop ways for citizens, businesses, and public entities to be involved in the process. Therefore, MENA DRC has decided to focus on sustainability as the major theme englobing all its activities for 2016. By partnering with local and international organizations and professionals, we can help build awareness and provide resources for designers to play a key role in changing the behaviors and mindsets of citizens in Lebanon and the MENA region.
Sustainable design is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability. MENA DRC has adopted ten essential guidelines for the development of the program that may also act as criteria for participation in Beirut Design Week 2016.
QUESTIONS & CONSIDERATIONS
Sustainable design is primarily concerned with developing materials and practices that protect and encourage our resources for future generations. A product or process can be sustainable in several ways, ten of which we have outlined in the 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 a lighting structure or chair once the consumer throws it away? Where do the initial parts come from? How much energy does it take to produce? Does the production process release harmful toxins? How much waste do you produce in the process of making the product? How do you minimize the waste produced, like for example with excess fabric for 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?
We presented many of these questions to the participants of Beirut Design Week 2016, and we are proud of our Design Community who took on the challenge and developed more than 100 events that are aimed to create awareness about sustainability with the audience.