The time we live in is a unique one. The world around us is changing faster every day. When designing the world of tomorrow, we designers have a crucial role and should approach it responsibly. The United Nations gave us a clear path of improvement by listing seventeen global goals for sustainable development (UN, 2015). These can be classified into two main routes of improvement. The first is tending to the earth we live on. There is only so much time left if we don’t start caring for our planet. As Bio-Architect Neri Oxman beautifully states, “We should start to mother earth.” (Oxman, 2019) We are consuming more rapidly than the earth can manage. As designers, we have to zoom out. No longer designing a new button on a coffee machine, but rather redesign processes and systems to achieve more sustainable living. In an episode of Tegenlicht, architect Thomas Rau has an inspiring perspective on this subject. We should start offering services instead of a product. When offering light instead of a lightbulb, the means
of achieving this need to be well designed to be the most profitable. This way, we challenge the concept of our overconsumption.
The second path of development that is important is tending to the people living on the earth. While we are more wealthy than ever, there are still many people living in horrible circumstances.
A couple of causes for this are overpopulation, uneven distribution of food and other necessities of life, insufficient medical care and lack of education. These are problems that need solving if we want to raise the standard of living globally. Especially the second path is one needing more attention as this directly impacts the first. When living in poverty and lacking education, survival is more important than tending to the earth.
By raising the standard of living in less developed countries, sustainability will ultimately be on the global agenda.
During my Minor program at the HAN University of Applied Sciences, I spent half a year living and working in Hanoi, Vietnam. In Hanoi, I worked in a Friendship Village, a compound where physically and mentally disabled kids live, get an education and are attended to medically. I used cooperative design methods, like Participatory Action Research (PAR), to help improve the living at Friendship Village. I grew very fond
of these inspiring individuals who remained happy and positive, no matter how poorly their circumstances could be. I especially developed a drive for global development.
I hope to someday bring engineers together and cooperate with people in less developed countries to work on both paths paved by the UN development goals. I call it Engineers without borders.
Besides helping as a creator I want to use my enthusiasm for telling stories to share theirs. But most of all, let them inspire other people the way they inspired me.