In this paper, design for change is explored as a means of contributing to socio-economic equity while minimising environmental damage. To create a material culture capable of accommodating technological progress and aesthetic development while also adhering to the principles of sustainability, it becomes important to recognise the potential role of design for change. This theme is explored here by considering design within an integrated strategy that includes mass- and local-scale manufacturing, service provision and re-manufacture. General design objectives are developed that provide a basis for generating ‘critical design’ concepts. Engagement in the process of designing requires a transmutation from generalisations to specific design decisions. This process enriches our understandings of design for change and the concepts presented here articulate the ideas via form, function, materials and aesthetics. In doing so, they provide tangible expressions of the strategic implications. These ‘temporal objects’, which in this case rely on a relatively stable technology, highlight the importance of localisation and more distributed forms of innovation. In addition, they clarify the designer’s role in developing useful things that are capable of being continually transformed through time, with continuous use of technological components and changing aesthetic components that, through creative employment of materials, have virtually no detrimental environmental impacts.