Design and sustainable development: what is the contribution that design can make? A case study of the Welsh Woollen Industry

THOMAS, Angharad (2009). Design and sustainable development: what is the contribution that design can make? A case study of the Welsh Woollen Industry. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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This paper reports on ongoing research examining the contribution that design can make to sustainable development, that is:
'… development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' (WCED, 1987, p. 43)

It outlines the need for global sustainable development and its adoption into global and governmental policies. Both of the key concepts of design and sustainable development are discussed, as is the relationship between them (Spangenberg 2001, Walker 2006). The contradictions between design as a stimulator of consumption and its potential contribution to sustainable development are examined.

The context of the research is Wales, one of the few nations to have a legal commitment to sustainable development (Welsh Assembly Government 2004a), and a selected part of the textile industry there. The policy background and the measurement of sustainable development in Wales are discussed. A background is given to the selected part of the textile industry, that is the Welsh Woollen Industry and a classification of it into ‘old’ and ‘new’ sectors is proposed.

The methodology of the study is outlined, having a social constructionist philosophy, informed by feminism and interpretivism. The methods developed to explore this relationship are principally qualitative (Rossman and Rallis 1998) within which a case study approach is taken (Langrish 1993, Yin 2003).

Analysis of data collected indicate that the use of design as a recognised activity is uneven, some producers using design strategically to give their work unique appeal and others not using it in a conscious way. In other contexts a design input does not contribute to economic sustainability as might be expected (Lorenz 1986).

Further work is outlined including concepts and tools to be used. More data will be collected from producers in urban areas in order to gain further insights and from key people working in both design and sustainable development at an institutional level.

Design; Sustainable Development; Wales; Welsh textile industry; rural producers

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 13:52

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