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Raising awareness of sustainability through design

[photo]
Graphic design students gather for a screening of Objectified, a 2009 documentary examining human relationships with manufactured objects.

[photo]
The film featured interviews with about 20 designers across the world, at companies that produce assortments of products from toothpicks to telephones.

January 26, 2010—

In an effort to get design students thinking about objects from alternative angles, LAU’s Graphic Design Department in Beirut organized a film screening on January 21 of Objectified, a 2009 documentary that examines human relationships with manufactured goods.

“Design has to move from being marketing-centered to being sustainable and user-friendly,” says Mithra Zahedi, visiting assistant professor at LAU from the University of Montreal who teaches foundation courses.

“When we design, we should think about the context and our relationship with the object,” she adds. “At the moment, not everyone is considering that.”

The film featured interviews with about 20 designers across the world including Japan, the United States, France and Germany, at companies that produce assortments of products from toothpicks to telephones.

A large part of the film focused on the issue of sustainability, explaining that despite the belief among many designers and manufacturers in the need to move toward producing sustainable products, the task has proven to be very challenging.

The film explained that in order to transition toward sustainability, companies must reconsider every aspect of manufacturing their goods — from material sources, to design, production, shipping and even developing a way to dispose of the product responsibly — which is an expensive and tremendously difficult undertaking.

Objectified also pointed out that sustainability is still a relatively recent trend that has been forcing designers to adapt to the green movement.

“You have to be a responsible designer,” says Randa Abdel Baki, chair of the Graphic Design Department in Beirut. “Being conscious of your environment is one of the most important aspects of design.”


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