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Learning from Traditional Practices and Products in India to inform Design for Sustainability

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Publication date3/03/2021
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventFifteenth International Conference on Design Principles and Practices: Towards a (design) new deal - Online conference, Monterrey, Mexico
Duration: 3/03/20215/03/2021
Conference number: 15


ConferenceFifteenth International Conference on Design Principles and Practices
Abbreviated titleDesign Principles and Practices
Internet address


Mainstream design approaches to developing more sustainable ways of living are often underpinned by the very modern values that have been instrumental in creating our unsustainable world. These values include those of consumerism, economic growth, efficiency and technological optimism – exemplified by mainstream Triple Bottom Line approaches, including the popular Circular Economy concept. Mounting criticism however suggests that such approaches are unlikely to lead to the scale of change required due to the emphasis they place on modern capitalist values. This paper is concerned with the nature of the products emerging from these approaches as these products often embody the aforementioned modern values, which can engender unsustainable practices by the end-user. The paper presents initial findings from an ongoing research project that examines what Design for Sustainability can learn from traditional products and practices that are not underpinned by modern, capitalist values. To do this, a range of traditional products and practices from India that are still in widespread use today are compared with their modern equivalents. The traditional products and practices from India were selected for their positive physical, emotional and/or spiritual relationship with the environment. From this comparison, key features of the Indian products and practices are drawn out that are transferable to contemporary product design. We conclude that these key features can inform the development of contemporary products that address sustainability in a more comprehensive and holistic manner than is currently the case.