Forms of Sustainability

Forms of Sustainability is a design research project inquiring into conceptions of 'form' in light of sustainable development. Arguing that such fundamental concepts in design are insufficient as we address such challenges, the project combines theoretical, historical and practice-based approaches to design research to surface and explore critical issues in, and about, design. The project builds on experiences from a series of previous design research programs, such as Static! and Switch!, the resulting international touring exhibition Visual Voltage (commissioned by the Swedish Institute), and from a series of cultural and curatorial projects involving the design community and the public such as DESIGN ACT, Tumult (Gustavsberg Konsthall, 2009) and Conversation in, within and about a Sofa (Arkitekturmuseet, 2011). The aim of Forms of Sustainability has been to develop theories and methods relevant to design practitioners, researchers, teachers, and students.

A culminating book has been published in 2013 by Axl Books, available in a limited print-run and in a free electronic version. The form of the book – its contents, format and sequence, as well as printing techniques, materials and binding, instantiates the ongoing dialog around 'form' and 'sustainability' that has taken place throughout the project.

Image (above)
A photo that I took during a project visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum

My role
I am one of the three main researchers in the project, which has involved organizing an internal seminar, conducting my own research, and contributing to producing and authoring the book. The DESIGN ACT project has been developed in part through my work in Forms of Sustainability. While my previous research has been practice-based or applied research, I have focused in this more basic research project on deepening and further developing concepts fundamental to much of my work over the last years. In my article for the book, I raise a series of questions about the politics of sustainable development and sustainable design. Through examples from my previous work and from examples of other practices featured in DESIGN ACT, I draw out implications of concepts from political philosophy and critical theory for 'critical practices' of design.

Forms of Sustainability, funded by the Swedish Research between 2009 and 2012, is led by the Interactive Institute and Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Project lead: Johan Redström; Participants: Mahmoud Keshavarz, Ramia Mazé, Lisa Olausson, Matilda Plöjel, Johan Redström, and Christina Zetterlund.

More about the project

See also

/ Projects / DESIGN ACT

/ Teaching / Thesis projects / Keshavarz, M., 'Forms of Resistance', MA thesis in Experience Design, 2011.

/ Publications / Plöjel, M., Mazé, R., Olausson, L., Redström, J., and Zetterlund, C. (eds) (2013) Share This Book.

/ Publications / Ericson, M., and Mazé, R. (eds) (2010) DESIGN ACT.

/ Publications / Mazé, R., Gregory, J., and Redström, J. (2011) ‘Social Sustainability’.

/ Publications / Mazé, R. (ed) (2010) Static! Designing for Energy Awareness.

/ Publications / Mazé, R. (2009) 'Critical of What?', in M. Ericson, et al. (eds) The Reader.

/ Publications / Mazé, R. (2009) ‘Critical Form(ations)’.

/ Publications / Mazé, R., and Redström, J. (2009) 'Difficult Forms'.