I want to write a text about the ultimate purpose of sustainability studios offered to industrial Design students. I want to ask the agencies or sustainability organisations who engage with design students – why do you do so? And I will now proceed to answer the question. These agencies offer studios to broaden the field and not to develop practical solutions to implement in the world. Some studios do come up with artefacts – a more sustainable object – but that’s when studios are set up this way to come up with a short-term solution. More frequently studios in sustainability have a PSS (product service system) mandate – this refers to their desire to come up with new product service combinations to transform the way we live, share, work and consume. The clue to this can be got from the methodologies the studios employ and the propositions that accompany studio publicity. For methodologies they may privilege scenario thinking and life cycle thinking. For propositions they may state ‘no private ownership of cars’. Such studios therefore constitute contexts of exploration which have a much longer time frame in mind – the “long now” project looks at a ten thousand years framework. Exposure to these ways of thinking can be magical for students – and giving them access to the frontiers of sustainability thinking around the world then becomes a goal of the studio. This is a fundamental nature of a studio that is porous and one that is divergent as against one that privileges the location of all knowledge and expertise in the tutor.
When agencies – such as Kathalys – engage in studios they too are keen to broaden our sense of the possibilities inherent in design propositions.
I too have indulged in a proposition in the recent months – to visualize a world where private ownership of cars will be prohibited – banned. You can see links to the projects here.