Monday, November 23, 2009

Nathan Shedroff

Nathan Shedroff is a professor at the California College of Arts in San Francisco, an enrepenuer, and author of “Design Is The Problem: The Future of Design Must Be Sustainable.” In a recent lecture to design students at UC Davis, Shedroff posed questions about the future of our world and provided insight as to how intelligent design can help us make sure it is a world which is sustainable. Shedroff responded by giving form to the nebulous buzz word with venn diagrams showing sustainability as the area where economics, sociology, and ecology intersect. “When assessing sustainability” he said, “this is the triple bottom line.”

A definition this broad and complex is contrary to the prevailing notion of sustainability as being primarily, if not exclusively, concerned with ecology. This is perhaps due to the tendency of the word to be used in the same conversation, if not the same sentence, as the flagrantly over used term “green” when referring to that which is environmentally sound. Taking this further, Shedroff explained that economics were in fact at the heart of sustainability and illustrated this by displaying an image of concentric circles with economics represented by the inner most circle. He also emphasized that this was an important fact for young designers, or anyone concerned with making significant progress in this area, to remember. This is because we live in a society were economics are often thought of as the sole bottom line in any decision. This model though, Shedroff says, is “fundamentally flawed” because it fails to address the social and ecological aspects of the equation.

To end his lecture by emphasizing the relationship between successful design and sustainable design and charging the young design students with the task of expanding the scope of design in the world to consider not only product but purpose, meaning, effect, and longevity.

Find out more about Nathan Shedroff at

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