Sustainable Design: Radical and Rational

Sustainable Design

One thing I love about design is how it can span the gap that exists for most of us between imagination and reality.  What I love about sustainable design is that it goes a step further to span — and ideally close — the gap that between idealism and pragmatism, between sustainability and humanity. 

For sustainable designers, there is no difference between what is radical and what is rational. For example, a sustainable designer might think:


Radical:   I shouldn’t design things that contribute to climate change.
Rational:  I shouldn’t design things that contribute to climate change.

Radical:   I shouldn’t design things that result in toxic or plastic waste.
Rational:  I shouldn’t design things that result in toxic or plastic waste.

Radical:   I shouldn’t design things that increase environmental injustice. 
Rational:  I shouldn’t design things that increase environmental injustice. 

Radical:   I should design things that are welcome additions to the ecosystem.
Rational:  I should design things that are welcome additions to the ecosystem.

Radical:   I should design things that create conditions conducive to life.
Rational:  I should design things that create conditions conducive to life.

Radical:   I should design things that allow humans to be humane.
Rational:  I should design things that allow humans to be humane.

What might you add to this list? How might you close that gap?


If you’re interested in leveraging the power of design to make the radical rational, we invite you to explore our fully online MA in Sustainable Design program!  Our next MASD information webinar is Tuesday 16 February 2021 at 1:00pmCT.

If you can’t wait to get started, you can register for our no-credit fully online continuing education course Introduction to Biomimicry: A Sustainable Design Methodology that starts February 22.

Denise DeLuca / Director

Denise DeLuca is the Director of MCAD’s Sustainable Design program. She was co-founder of BCI: Biomimicry Creative for Innovation, a network of creative professional change agents driving ecological thinking for radical transformation. Denise is author of the book Re-Aligning with Nature: Ecological Thinking for Radical Transformation, which was illustrated by MASD alum Stephanie Koehler. She also teaches with the Amani Institute.

Denise’s previous roles include Education Director for the International Living Future Institute, Project Manager for Swedish Biomimetics 3000, and Outreach Director for The Biomimicry Institute. Denise is a licensed civil engineer (PE) and holds a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering with a focus on modeling landscape-scale surface and groundwater interactions.  In addition, Denise is a Biomimicry Fellow and a member of the Advisory Council of The Biomimicry InstituteBoard Member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), on the editorial board of the Journal of Bionic Engineering, and an Expert with Katerva. Denise is based in Oregon.

contact:  [email protected]