Dysfunction, Deconstructing and Reconstruction: Exploring Sustainable Thinking Through Design Making.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    In this paper the authors describe an environmental design project, entitled Deconstruct Reconstruct, supported recently by SEPA, (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency), and SeDa, (Scottish Ecological Design Association), [1] which offers engineering, product and other design educators, insights into sustainable workshop techniques developed over a nine year period. The workshops reflect an anti-consumerist attitude toward the reworking of discarded products. The authors describe the project rationale, and illustrate how it embodies sustainable values, (rather than ‘green–gloss’). The workshop utilizes discarded, dysfunctional, and often fully functioning products from local waste streams and recycling centers. The authors contend that in order to comprehend global and sustainable contexts, and aspire to become what Kelly describes as true globo-sapiens, [2] local contexts need to be experienced first. The authors speculate whether traditional design sketching becomes redundant during this intuitive re-making process, and explore whether a ‘linear’ design process could be enriched, by embracing a much more non-linear and fluid creative process common to artists, but often missing from design education. This workshop allows students to establish a philosophical position within the difficult terrain of sustainability. Deconstruct Reconstruct challenges academic orthodoxy, in particular the rationalist mode of learning common in universities. Complimenting this with holistic learning, [3], experience prototyping, [4] and a play ethic [5], as valued alternative approaches which can enrich design and allow us to rethink our relationship with products, function and waste. Deconstruct Reconstruct provokes ‘meta cognitive’ thinking-about-thinking on sustainability, and transforms learners horizons from disciplinary toward global perspectives. The project represents a type of sustainable activism, and meets aspects of the Eco Pluralist Manifesto [6]. Deconstruct Reconstruct is part of a rich and provocative history of recycling, re-making and rethinking our relationships with objects and how we create, cherish, discard and then re-create products. Finally, the authors reinforce the transferable potential of this project to other disciplines, and discuss new sustainable initiatives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEducating Designers for a Global Context
    Place of PublicationSalzburg, Austria
    PublisherThe Design Society
    Number of pages6
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2006
    EventInternational Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Educating Designers for a Global Context - Salzburg, Austria
    Duration: 7 Sept 20068 Sept 2006
    Conference number: 8


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
    Abbreviated titleE and DPE
    Internet address


    • globo-sapiens
    • deconstructing
    • reconstructing
    • holistic
    • eco-pluralist
    • interiors


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