Affective Sustainability. Is this what timelessness really means?

BORJESSON, Kristina (2009). Affective Sustainability. Is this what timelessness really means? In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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Sustainability is always about regard to the environment: an intelligent use of resources and not returning to nature what it cannot degrade without long-term damage. Politics, business and thus research have been predominantly concerned with the direct impact on the environment of the diverse human activities in our society. There is of course awareness about all the indirect effects caused by these activities but as these effects are more complicated to identify and calculate, it could reasonably be suggested that these have not got the same attention and hence have not been thoroughly explored. Important resources are required for the production of objects, which subsequently turn out neither to meet humans’ needs nor to fulfil their desires. This issue involves not just the misuse of resources but also the addition to waste problems. Needs and desires are not unrelated to material and function but reach mostly beyond the physicality of the object as argued by Krippendorf (2006), among others. Timelessness is unrelated to physicality and is most likely the ultimate example of sustaining. However, this phenomenon does not easily allow interpretation as it is basically philosophical, which also would complicate its transition into other domains.

The deconstruction of timelessness in an earlier work (Borjesson, 2006) resulted in the phenomenon being conceptualised as affective sustainability. Four notions were identified as mainly informing timelessness: time, tradition, aesthetics and perception. When subsequently studied in several disciplines, these notions produced indicators on how to understand better what makes objects retain their significance in a changing human context. These indicators are not to be categorised as a set of tools or even less as a model to be applied in the design process: they are directional rather than normative. Moreover, they are best understood as support and inspiration to develop design thinking and have been the subject for further analysis as part of continued research. This has increased the clarity of the directions not only in relation to design thinking but also where to continue research.

Sustainability, Human ways of living, Human ways of being, Lived and Learned experience, Emotion, Affect, Feeling, Cognition.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:04

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