The book review leads to creation 1 GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE / A book review by designer Tomoko Azumi09.07.08
In the series “A wealth of books and reading” of AXIS magazine, we have been offering book reviews by designers, which is titled ” The book review leads to creation.” In every issue, designers pick up a book from which they got some inspiration or new ideas etc.
Hear we pick up a book review from the back numbers. Unfortunately some of those books are only in Japanese, but we hope that you should understand designers’ thinking.
For the 1st installment we pick up a book review by Tomoko Azumi.
GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE─ HOPE FOR A TROUBLED PLANET Author: David Suzuki & Holly Dressel (Stoddart Pub)
“There are many things we can do”
A book review by designer Tomoko Azumi
I started riding the bicycle two years ago. I learned for the first time how fun it is to move around on my own power, feeling the wind on my body. Thanks to that decision my activities have changed one after another. I wanted to change my lifestyle that only wasted resources.
I removed some bulbs and reduced my lighting by about half, and I pull down the blinds after dark to prevent heat from escaping. I also buy vegetables from local organic farms, and for other foods, select those with short transportation distances and simple packaging as much as possible. I replaced my old car with a hybrid, and use public transportation or my bicycle as much as possible for going out. For traveling within Europe I stopped using planes wherever the railway is available. I carry a water bottle filled with filtered tap water instead of mineral water. I started growing vegetables and herbs, and started making compost by kitchen garbage and wrapping paper.
These are all truly enjoyable. The guilt from “wasting resources” I used to have deep down has been lightened and I feel my body has become lighter as well. As the result, I have reduced the money I spend on gasoline by 1/4, my garbage by half, and even my body fat level (though only by a little in this category). I started reading more articles about the environment, and having the urge to find out what kind of action other people are making for the environment, what changes in society are being brought by them, and what I can do in society as a designer.
That’s when I encountered this book.
Author David Suzuki is a well-known biologist and TV presenter in Canada. He has long been dealing with environmental issues with Holly Dressel who produced a program with the same title at CBC Television, and supports grassroots activities around the world. The stories they report strongly appeal to the idea that the environmental problem is an economical problem, requires political reform, and is therefore an individual problem for each of us. There are also many people who make a living in such activities as “businesses without contradiction” and live happily. People appearing in this book live their lives fully with vigor. They live doing what they believe in and like.
I used to believe, until several years ago, that “it is a taboo for designers to talk about environmental issues at the site of product development since they are deeply involved in industry.” I felt that if we discussed it, we would end up saying “it’s better not to make the product,” and feared that our profession might disappear.
Such fears, however, are unnecessary. I learned from this book that there are many roles the designer can take on. It is the designer’s job to assist communication, and reflect the community, local characteristics of the town and identity in the product. The designer can even reduce the environmental load by learning the properties of materials, such as thermal efficiency and recyclability, and providing accurate advice at the production site.
No doubt the road ahead is long, but it is certain that the road is a pleasant one that does not contradict our conscience. (from AXIS vol. 135)