The recent spate of publications on 'green design' tend to view the greening of design as a relatively straightforward process of applying certain environmental principles to the practice of designing products for industry, 'sustainable development' poses fundamental and uncomfortable challenges to the design status quo as it does to other professions and disciplines (Burall, 1991).
Such criteria within the environment and development movement introduce into the debate over design, industry and ecology a whole range of issues that have been discussed in the ecological literature for at least three decades. Because this literature is by its very nature 'holistic', a study of design and ecology requires an inter- or multidisciplinary approach.
Throughout its history environmentalism has been, if not overtly political, at least oppositional, and key texts are usually part of a continuing debate. It is this which makes a historical perspective particularly necessary because it can help to clarify the confusing range of current ideas and issues and explain their origins and thus begin to offer a critique of today's conventional wisdom. Changes in terminology, for example, can sometimes indicate changing values and priorities, although they can also disguise continuities. In the design field the change from 'alternative design' and 'design for need'-the catch-phrases of the 1970s -- to 'eco-design', 'green design', or 'environmentally affirmative design' in the 1980s and 1990s reveals an underlying shift in social and political attitudes.
The study of design and ecology over the last twenty-five years can therefore help to contextualize current practice, and ecologically based research into the history of design in this and earlier periods can provide a new perspective on the nature of design in pre-industrial and industrial societies, and lead to the reassessment of familiar material. This review is not intended as a definitive introduction to such a history of ecological design but as a preliminary guide to the source material and literature in the relevant areas of design, ecology, and technology.
Green Ideas and Issues: A Guide to the Ecological Literature
It is impossible to approach the subject of design and the environment without delving into the ecological literature, because not only is there a paucity of material on ecological design but ecological design cannot be divorced from ecologism. However, the general literature on ecology and environmentalism is so enormous that it is difficult to know where to start and how to evaluate the different kinds of material available. What follows is a highly selective discussion over the design issues and history.
The envisioning of structures, networks and facilities for the benefit of human beings. 'The planning and patterning of any act towards a desired, foreseeable end constitutes a design process' (Victor Papanek, 1975). The problem with much design is that it has inappropriate goals, usually financial ones. Green