The Political Economy of Design in a Hotter Time

Authored by: David W. Orr

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138650176
eBook ISBN: 9781315625508
Adobe ISBN:


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Design is all the rage. We wear designer jeans; some of us live in designer houses; a few drive cars with designer interiors. Buyers of luxury houses and buildings pay “starchitects” sizeable fees to design buildings that defy gravity, conventional geometry, and human scale. Some propose to redesign our genes by means liberated from sexual selection unhindered by philosophy or the piddling constraints of convention. The goal is super-human perfection, but the more likely result would be the geneticists’ version of an arms race. Others are designing the means to further expedite consumption by tailoring our electronically tracked proclivities to the expanding bazaar of commercial opportunities. The goal is higher profits. Whatever you want someone will design it for you but at a price high enough to exclude the great majority of humanity and without any thought for those who will follow us and will find their grasp on life, liberty, and happiness made more tenuous by previous design decisions.

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