Design Uncertain

Pete Davis (Plymouth University, UK)


The aim of this paper is to explore the idea that design can be a catalyst for fundamental/sustainable change and that designers can provide imaginative solutions to the questions surrounding sustainability and the integration of business and the corporate world. Every day new solutions are being found to ensure our survival; but it is more than survival it is about evolution and growth not only in terms of economy but also in terms of us as human beings understanding our development. 
Design, inventions, realisations, how ever you describe it, are endeavouring to benefit all humanity, this paper will seek to show a few alternative ideas while focusing more on root and branch change for our communities, in education, business and design. Design Matters: Good design works on many levels, functionally, rationally, and aesthetically. It is pleasing to use, to look at and at its best, it makes life easier, safer, slower, faster, it can be amusing, it enhances the experience of the built environment, we all take this as a given in the developed world.

Our failure to realise and appreciate that our planet as a fantastic design, or to act on this thought, is why our efforts are now so concentrated on its survival. It is also our failure to understand ourselves, which has thrown our very existence into jeopardy. Designers have always dealt with conflict, ambiguity, difficulties and diverging requirements. Their job is not to ignore certain aspects or compromise, but to be innovative risk takers in their quest to find solutions. Design has the power to convert difficulties into improvements; 
good design has the power to connect people emotionally, rationally, and scientifically. That is why it is ideally placed to play a leading role in reshaping our understanding of why and how we need to move forward realistically into the 21st century. Several themes have emerged over the last five years that as Design Educators, Designers and Design Entrepreneurs we have to take into the future, this paper charts these envisaged solutions and offers some alternatives to the status quo.

Keywords: Transition, Sustainability, Environment, History, Design


Peter Quinn Davis is Director of the MA Postgraduate programmes in Design, incorporating, Design, Maker and Materials, Product Design, Spatial Design and Sustainable Futures. MA Post Graduate teaching Thinking/Sustainable Futures, within the School of Arts. Design and and Architecture: Programme Leader for MRes Design Thinking and the coordinator for Design Knowledge Research.

Research interests are art, design, architecture and the creative disciplines. Focused interests include, notions of place, in terms of transformation, object making, identity and memory.  The research concerns reflect the multiple contexts of art and design as it has evolved through the twentieth century and into the twentieth first century. The research reflects a high level of relativism, contextualization and pragmatism.  I am interested in ideas of personal identity/how this contributes to place-making, artefact manufacture and the understanding of heritage, through the industrial and post-industrial ages. I also work outside the university in other sectors, schools, forums, councils and institutions and artist’s studios.

Creative practice & artistic projects: Audi Design Foundation ‘Sustain our Nation‘ (national campaign 2009) Through 2009 and 2010 I have worked in partnership with South West Design Programme.Teach-In 2012: ‘Eco-literacy in Design Education‘ at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. October 2009. Curating and organising a major project and exhibition with Plymouth City Museum and UOP School of Architecture and Design, detailing the responses of twelve architects and designers to the museums collections, 2012; Envelope a major exhibition featuring 50 of the worlds best designers, responding to the idea of Value. 2015: Pen Arts Plymouth. Showing work in Milan and Dutch Design fairs -2014-15-16: Exhibition: Design Latitudes – Alberta, Canada 2016.

Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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