A thought provoking article for any would-be designer, especially those who already have William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle on their nightstand.

The authors, Brent Richards and David Carlson, claim that “We have become so successful in our ardour to improve and refine, that the act of designing has become part of the problem and not the means to respond to authentic human need.” I’m apt to dispute this, but it’s a worthwhile point. Certainly the ease of manufacturing designs has lead to an unsustainable glut of wanton disposable junk. But should we condemn the ACT of design? Design is the thinking, planning, fixing –not necessarily production– and how could more thoughtfulness ever be wrong? Aren’t well-designed products inherently appropriate to the society they were created in, meaning that in today’s world they would address the sustainability issue or fail? Some of these questions are addressed in the article, although I still take issue with the criminalization of Design.

Richards and Carlson redeem themselves in my eyes after going on to state that good designers should be “alchemists with creativity.” I couldn’t agree more with the old trash-into-treasure philosophy. Diminishing the waste stream by turning everything possible back into something to be consumed instead of discarded is probably one of the most important and easy things we as citizens can do. It is what designers MUST do. DIY isn’t a trend; it’s the only option with any longevity.

(Plus it saves you dollars. People really do pay attention to issues that hit them in the pocket book. This all seems obvious to this fresh-out-of-college 20-something in a tiny apartment in a big city, because I can’t afford to do anything else. My brain and hands force me to create, and my wallet forces me to use whatever I can find and not be wasteful.)

So please, use your powers for good and not evil. Go rummage around in your trash and make me something out of it.