Climate change, air pollution, and water scarcity—these are just a handful of reasons why you may be worried for Earth’s future. But all hope is not lost, at least that’s the attitude of writer and editor Jared Green, whose recent book explores 80 thought-provoking ideas changing our world for the better. In ‘Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World,’ Green speaks with 80 influential global leaders, from Bjarke Ingels to Diana Balmori, to ask the question: What gives you hope that a sustainable future is possible? The result is an eclectic collection of inspiring tales that will resonate with everyone from the uninitiated student to the veteran community activist.
Green begins the book with the bold and encouraging line: “We can’t give up yet.” ‘Designed for the Future’ is a beacon of optimism. It’s not a road map for how to save our world; instead, the book strives for change through inspiration. Even though the book’s 80 ideas and their descriptions are written in the words of the contributors, Green keeps the text refreshingly straightforward and jargon-free. The book is accessible to the general public and is functional for design professionals, who can use the book as a springboard for interdisciplinary design work.
Rather than group by type, the book lists the ideas democratically in alphabetical order, from Elizabeth Mossop’s mention of the Changing Course design competition to Toronto’s Sherbourne Commons Park praised by Christopher Hume. Contributors—which hail from areas like architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, academia, the nonprofit sector, art, and more—were asked to only select ideas or projects that they had not been involved. Green creates order amongst the many projects and concepts by slotting each answer into a rigid two-page spread template, with a full-page picture(s) on the right side and the text—the title, location, the contributor’s name and title, and the project explanation—on the left side.
“Nearly everyone had an answer to the question,” writes Green. “Out of more than eighty people I spoke to, only two said, ‘I don’t have much hope for the future.’ The rest seemed stirred by the challenge. I saw a few people’s eyes light up, intrigued by my challenges. Some had answers at the tip of their tongues, as if they had been just been thinking about this. Others asked for time to think, checking their assumptions and beliefs, searching for the right example. While I prompted sometimes, I didn’t tell people what others were talking about, so no one was influenced by anyone else.”
Solar Leaf Project, Germany, 2013 © Colt International, Arup, SSC GmbH ; Ann Demeulemeester Shop, South Korea © Yong-Kwan Kim