This is a transcript of the video David Berman keynotes at agIdeas Melbourne: Making The Planet Your Client: Designing Sustainability.
(David Berman appears on camera in front of his presentation displaying on screen and faces the audience for the duration of this video. David is wearing a dark grey suit with a black shirt and tie.)[MUSIC PLAYING] Listen. I don’t want to freak you guys out. But I came all the way from Canada to tell you that the future of civilization is our common design project.
Now, when I first met Ken, I was in Taipei. And he told me something that I thought was quite profound. He said there are only two types of design– good and bad.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about this. How do we decide what is good and what is bad? Now that we can do anything, what will we do? And the challenge in redefining what is good and bad in design juxtaposes with this time we live in.
We are privileged to be in a most remarkable age. 10,000 generations of human beings have come before us. But we live in a time of abundance and hope. We have never had more power than we do today as designers.
And yet we live in a very fragile world. And so I think there’s a need for us to redefine what we mean by sustainability. Because we can focus on using recycled papers. We can focus on all sorts of techniques that have to do with making a softer impact on the Earth.
What I’m showing here is a typeface designed in the Netherlands. And it’s so simple. It’s called an ecofont. And by removing 25% of the letter by putting little white dots in, any font can be turned into an ecofont.
And so, overnight, simply by deploying a font in a corporation, one can reduce the amount of ink or toner being used by a quarter. And not just a designer can do that. We live in a time where everyone’s a designer.
Erik Spiekermann is one of my favorite designers. And when I was in Berlin, I met him. Now, Erik designed the Deutsche Bahn logo. That DB up there. My favorite initials.
The thing is that when Erik redesigned the Deutsche Bahn logo, he, with one small tweak, paid for his entire fee. Because there’s the old logo.
And when they repainted the new trains with a new logo, just because there was more white in the logo, they saved more than 100,000 euros just in the cost of paint. And that’s pretty toxic paint. So his fee was paid for entirely by that.
I love this double hit. This is a poster designed by an ad agency in South Africa. And it, of course, speaks of supporting the homeless. But the very message is printed on a blanket that a homeless person can pull off the wall and use overnight. And then in the morning they put it back. Someone else uses it.
It was 20 years ago that Gro Harlem Brundtland, who was the Prime Minister of Norway, coined the term sustainability for us. She was a design thinker. And early on when we spoke about sustainability, we thought about it in terms of the idea of not just profit for profit and planet.
We’ve gone further than that. People often speak about a triple bottom line approach– prosperity, planet, and people, where we bring social responsibility into the game.
But I want to make it even tougher. Because what makes us humans different than all the other animals is our ability to record knowledge. I really believe that the dolphins would rule the world if they had opposable thumbs. But, unfortunately, they have no way of writing down their knowledge.
So they have to reinvent it from generation to generation, where we live in this time where anyone can share information over great distances over generations. And so I challenge us to have a quadruple bottom line approach to design thinking, where we have to take care of prosperity, planet, people, and design.
And the reason I say design is because it’s a matter of cultural sustainability. We can choose to take a pledge where we would commit at least 10% of our professional lives to doing projects that help make the world better– that help repair the world. Because there’s two million designers in the world today.
And if every one of them spent just 10% of their time– that’s four hours a week– two million designers– that’s eight million hours a week. And I tell you, there isn’t a problem our world has that cannot be solved with eight million hours a week of loving, creative design thinking.
(Text on screen:
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Melbourne Victoria Australia
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Producer and Director: Design Foundation
Video Editor: Shaghayegh Moshtarikhah
Director of Photograph: Streamcast
Work in order of appearance: Photographs copyright David Berman Developments Inc 1999-2014
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Reviewed May 22, 2012