Good Visualization Approaches for Sustainability’s Bad News

As consumers, when it comes to sustainability, we are surrounded by bad news: Global warming, water scarcity, air pollution, loss of biodiversity, human rights abuses, carbon emissions, poor working condition… The list goes on and on. Fortunately, technology increasingly allows us to track and trace the back-stories of everyday products related to these sustainability topics


Learning From Nature

During the 2012–13 Biomimicry Student Design Challenge (BSDC) competition, I discovered that solving humanity’s biggest design challenges requires new skills applied within a comprehensive framework that integrates sustainability. I gained a deeper understanding of the Buckminster Fuller Institute‘s tenet of what Fuller described as “comprehensive anticipatory design scientists.” (Fuller, 1999) Learning from nature Biomimicry, the


Putting Theory into Practice

Practicing sustainability-focused design, like any art form, is a skill that requires craft and sensitivity. As designers, we are tasked to skillfully create consumable goods, services and systems that inevitably make an impact on many levels, many of which are not well understood or even measurable. By learning and then practicing various approaches, I have


A New Way of Thinking

We all know the plight of the typical industrial designer: make (more) stuff; repeat. But with the nexus of vast technical abilities and support systems to deliver ideas, where does responsibility and “design sensitivity” come into play? How will we be able to design with an understanding that every design decision is connected in some



Spring came early this year for the MASD program. Although Minneapolis is shattering historical records for extreme winter weather without any sign of spring in sight, we are tickled to announce the rebirth of the MCAD Sustainable Design blog in all of its colorful glory. For us, our blog redesign is like the first intrepid


Visual Communications for Sustainability

Arlene Birt (MDes) is an information designer who is dedicated to sharing the ‘visual stories’ of companies’ sustainable products and services. We recently caught up with her to discuss her career with Background Stories as well as her new Summer 2014 fully online course devoted to the subject of how to communicate sustainability stories, Visual


Design Rules for Sustainability

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 nature-inspired design and Bucky Fuller’s work called, Nature’s Design Rules for Sustainability. This is a 10-week course that is a core


Background Stories

With increasing focus on sustainability, companies are eager to tell their customers how they are working to preserve the environment. At the same time, consumers are demanding transparency from companies. Traditionally, eco-labels or similar “stamps of approval,” have helped bridge communications between companies and consumers about environmentally friendly products. But as the movement toward sustainability


Educating Global Change Agents

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


Happy Holidays!

Classes just ended. Final grades have been submitted. Final meetings have taken place. The calm after the storm of the semester is beginning to descend upon the school. 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