Objects, Environment and Meaning – a lecture by Stuart Walker

Welcome to Stuart Walker’s lecture on Thursday the 2nd of February at 14.00-15.00 in Mediafactory:

Objects, Environment and Meaning
Practice-based research in design for sustainability

This lecture provides an overview of a practice-based methodological approach for design research in academia that recognizes subjective, intuitive responses, serendipity and aesthetic sensitivity as important elements of creative design, alongside more conventional, rational, objective approaches and evidence-based methods. The theoretical ideas being explored are introduced, and illustrated through propositional design examples from my own practice. These design responses are not ‘products’ – they are not so much design objects and objects about design objects. In this kind of work, design is regarded as a question-asking activity, rather than a problem-solving activity. Conclusions are drawn that attempt to identify the areas in which original contributions to knowledge emerge from such research. An approach to design for sustainability develops that recognizes the importance of localization, symbolism and spirituality in our approaches to material culture. This expands our understanding of design for sustainability through a quadruple bottom line in which Personal Meaning is recognized alongside Practical (environmental) and Social Meaning and where economic considerations are regarded as a means rather than an end.

Stuart Walker:
Stuart Walker is Professor, Head of Design and Co-Director of the ImaginationLancaster, creative research lab at Lancaster University, UK. For many years he was Associate Dean at the Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Canada, where he retains an affiliation. He is also Visiting Professor of Sustainable Design at Kingston University UK. His practice-based academic research combines writing with the development of propositional artefacts. His work on design for sustainability and design and meaning has been widely published and his conceptual designs have been exhibited across Canada, in Italy and at the Design Museum, London. He is author of Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice, Earthscan/Taylor and Francis, UK, and Enabling Solutions for Sustainable Living, co-authored with Ezio Manzini and Barry Wylant, University of Calgary Press. His new book, The Spirit of Design: objects, environment and meaning is published by Earthscan/Taylor and Francis, UK.

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