Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) is pushing the design envelope with their new Master of Arts in Sustainable Design—an interdisciplinary, studio design-oriented degree that is also offered completely online. The Designers Accord talks to Director (and biomimicry education leader) Cindy Gilbert about the inspiration for the program and how MCAD plans to shape the next generation of global creative problem-solvers.
What is it about the reoccurring patterns and palettes that randomly occur in nature that make them inherently appealing? I can’t imagine not being enthralled by the rhythmic pattern of sand caressed by waves or even by the inviting waves as they crash and dissipate along a shoreline. Or the way dappled sunlight draws me into a forest. Or, how is it possible that a deciduous forest in its full color splendor is always “in season”?
Nature’s captivating patterns are chaotic and random yet harmonious. There is something impossible about the way the textures and colors emerge without a stylist’s help. These random yet beautiful patterns did not go unnoticed by David Oakey and his team of designer working for InterfaceFLOR. The team was asked to think about how nature would design flooring, and what they discovered is that nature designs with randomness.
When I think about what a community needs to be healthy, sustainable and thriving, my mind goes immediately to food. You don’t have a 4th of July celebration without food and you don’t have a community without it either. But how do we get these healthy foods? Where do they come from? Who grows them? Some sustainable food advocates say that we will need 50 million new farmers to grow produce, meats & dairy locally. 50 million!? What can I do to help create such an explosion of participation in the farming arts?
While there are lots of elements required to make this shift (policy reform, land reform, capital, etc.), my current work with Harvest Moon Backyard Farmers focuses on education and culture change. On the surface, what we do is cute, delicious, perhaps even delightful. On a deeper level, it is our hope and intention to change people’s minds about where they get their food, how it is grown, who grows it, how agriculture can fit in with natural systems and how they themselves can participate more directly in all of this. To illustrate what I’m talking about, I’ll share a little story….
When Valerie Casey founded the Designers Accord in 2007 to create awareness of sustainability issues in graphic design, she hoped it would be a short term project. One that would start the conversation and put in place industry standards for sustainability that would become the norm. Five years later, though, even with all the movement’s success, too many sustainable graphic design books, events, and conversations are still focused around the introductory topic of what sustainable design is, and why it’s important, instead of innovating beyond what should be obvious by now.
So why isn’t the sustainable graphic design conversation progressing?
New techniques and innovations in ecocentric paper, printing, inks, technology, materials, and manufacturing are being developed at a rapid pace. Yet, instead of discussing new inventions and techniques that affect the lifecycle of our deliverables, an embarrassing number of designers either don’t know that sustainability is an issue, or think that their responsibility stops at recycled paper and soy ink (hint: there’s a lot more to it than that).
During my spring 2012 semester in the Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program at MCAD, I had the opportunity to deepen my engagement in social media through a practicum with Joshua Foss from Metro Hippie. Josh is an adjunct faculty member of MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design and teaches the Introduction to Sustainable Design course, a foundational course offered in the first semester of the MA program. His online magazine shows how low-impact living doesn’t have to come at the expense of high style.
The objective of my practicum was to build on my existing blog, eco-chic design, that I had founded in 2008. Originally I was interested in blogging to promote a sustainable lifestyle through the lens of modern design. My biggest “aha” moment during my classes at MCAD was that sustainable design not only considers the environment but human health and social justice as well. That’s when it clicked for me why I was blogging and how I could make a difference.
“The natural world has found ways to work and live in harmony for a long time. If we want to also survive and create sustainability systems, biomimicry may be the key.”
Read the full Fast CoExist article authored by Erin Leitch with contributions by Denise DeLuca, MCAD Sustainable Design faculty:
Read more articles by Denise DeLuca:
- Creative Leadership for the 21st Century
- Creative Leadership
- Saving the World with Improv
- 12 Characteristics of a Natural Leader
Read another article about Resiliency written by MCAD’s Sustainable Design Program director during her 1,100 fundraising bicycle ride from Montana to Minnesota.
Denise DeLuca, P.Eng., LEED-AP (article contributor) is excited to be a part of the emergent Biomimicry for Creative Innovation (BCI) which she is a co-founder. Denise’s career has spanned both the public and private sectors and included running her own sustainable resource consulting business, Emergent Solutions. Denise lives in Seattle, WA and she will be teaching a new 15-week, fully online course called Biomimetic Design in Summer 2013 that begins May 14, 2013.
She also teaches Creative Leadership, a core course for MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design that focuses on nature-inspired leadership models. Applications for the MA program are now being accepted for Fall 2013. Learn more about how to apply. Application deadline is June 1, 2013).
Image courtesy of @pellaea
LEDs are already much, much more efficient than any other light bulb out there, but a group of scientists figured out how to make them a whopping 55 percent more efficient — by looking at fireflies.
Scientists Make LEDs 55 Percent More Efficient by Imitating Fireflies By Sarah Laskow of @Grist
Of course, they didn’t go out in a field, catch a bunch of fireflies, put them in a jar, and call it a light bulb. (Seems romantic, but really, you just end up sitting in the dark.) Like scientists are wont to do, they instead stuck the fireflies under a microscope, and took a look at the microscopic membranes on the bugs’ bellies. What they found was “a pattern of sharp, jagged scales on the fireflies’ bodies enhanced the amount of light emitted by the fireflies’ lanterns,” writes Yale e360.
Like causing ripples in a pond, a great marketing effort (or even just a good one), will take-on a positive life and energy of its own. An ill-conceived effort though will sink like a rock, causing barely a splash.
What is ethics-based marketing?
Ethics-based Marketing put simply — is telling an honest story. It’s also the strategic umbrella under which a variety of forward thinking marketing efforts are undertaken.
- Ethics-based Marketing: Aveda, Patagonia, Peace Coffee and Stoneyfield use ethics-based ideas to inform everything they do.
- Cause-based Marketing: The “Red” product series to support AIDS efforts is an example.
- Sustainability and Strategic Marketing: Coke’s “Plant Bottle” is an example.
Take this between-semester breather to slow down, hit the brakes a bit, relax, recharge, unwind, reflect, and play.
We wish you and yours much peace and happiness during the holiday season, and all the best in 2013. See you then! read more…
We in MCAD’s Sustainable Design Program are as proud as peacocks and happy as clams. This week one of our amazing students, Kendra Hargens, makes history at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) as the first student to graduate from the Master of Arts in Sustainable Design Program. She also creates a new benchmark in MCAD’s 125-year history as the first online student to “walk” at MCAD’s commencement ceremony. We are so proud of you and your inspiring sustainability work, Kendra!
At the beginning of October 2012, an article by GreenBiz’s Joel Makower was posted on livingprinciples.org about the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) long awaited release of the revised Environmental Marketing Claims Guidelines* – noting you can’t call something “green” or “eco-friendly” unless you can prove it really is “green” or “eco-friendly.”
And while the FTC chose to side step the term “sustainability” – saying they wanted “to avoid proposing guidance that duplicates or contradicts rules or guidance of other agencies” – there really are no agencies that have stood up to declare without exception, what “sustainable” really means in finite terms everyone has endorsed. There are scorecards and other metrics tools helping us move in the right direction, as well as Brundtland asking us to mind future-generations. But the final place – “sustainable” – is not a single state, with a single certifying body, you could readily point to right now saying you’ve totally arrived on all levels without leaving yourself open to easy criticism.
This documentary film explains how people like you and communities using renewable energy provide hope that we will achieve a sustainable future. Renewable energy sets the stage for a world where political and social autonomy is possible, energy crises are history, climate change is halted, and oil/nuclear war can be averted. Featuring award-winning scientist and world-renowned environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki, Chris Turner author of the Geography of Hope, and Right Livelihood (the alternative Nobel prize) award-winner Dr. Hermann Scheer, the architect of the German Renewable Energy Act.
WHERE: MCAD Auditorium 150 @2501 Stevens Ave. S., Mpls. MN
WHEN: 7pm on October 9
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s (MCAD) Sustainable Design Online (SDO) program grew out of a lecture series and the Celebrate Sustainability Film Series started nearly a decade ago. This film series continues to be curated by MCAD SDO faculty, Curt McNamara, who has taken the lead on this project for the past several years. Curt teaches several core and elective classes in MCAD’s MA program, including Systems Thinking (fall semester) and Innovation Tools and Techniques (spring semester). Thanks for all you do, Curt!
Image courtesy of @mysticpolitics
When I try to explain to friends and family what sustainability is, I try to avoid the definition of being ‘green’ because everyone automatically assumes I am a hippie and am going to chain myself to a tree. I define sustainability in a broader sense, not just in terms of meeting today’s needs without compromising future generations, but as an encompassing theory, outlook, and way of life that is relevant on an individual, local, national and global scale. For me, sustainability is an approach that is efficient and logical.
“I want to be an instigator of change.”
A master’s program in sustainable design? Taught completely online? Led by a biologist? Requiring a course in leadership? What are they thinking?
But for those of us out there who are relentlessly exploring and developing and driving solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, the responses to these questions are:
- That will create so many new opportunities!
- What a fantastic perspective!
- Why didn’t we think of that before?
- They are thinking so progressively—and so pragmatically — about what the students need, and what the world desperately needs, to succeed and thrive into the future.
- Right on!
In 1988, filmmaker Kevin Tomlinson filmed and interviewed a group of back-to-the-land hippies—living off-grid, insulated and isolated from mainstream culture. In 2006, he tracked down his subjects again to find out what had become of their families’ utopian plans and dreams. The film captures a time-lapse view of these back-to-the-landers, told with moving personal stories of non-conforming tribal families with a lot of freedom but little cash, unflinching political activism in the midst of small-town, rural America, and hippie kids who ask whether free love was really free.
WHERE: MCAD Auditorium 150 @2501 Stevens Ave. S., Mpls. MN
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s (MCAD) Sustainable Design Online (SDO) program grew out of a lecture series and the Celebrate Sustainability Film Series started nearly a decade ago. This film series continues to be curated by MCAD SDO faculty, Curt McNamara, who has taken the lead on this project for the past several years. Curt teaches several core and elective classes in MCAD’s MA program, including Systems Thinking (Fall semester) and Innovation Tools and Techniques (spring semester). Thanks for all you do, Curt!
Images courtesy of @haytraveler
The time is ripe for his ideas. Sustainable design was a new concept when he started in the 1930’s, and even by the 1970’s it was part of the creative edge rather than the mainstream. Bucky famously said that he worked 50 years ahead of his time. In that way he didn’t experience a reaction against changing the present.
Curt McNamara is an experienced engineer, biomimicry educator and Buckminster Fuller scholar. We recently caught up with him to discuss his career as well as his fully online course devoted to the subject of Bucky Fuller’s work called, Geometry of Thinking. The course begins May 29 and registration is open. This is a 10-week course that is a core part of MCAD’s Sustainable Design Online Program.