The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design
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Does going green change the face of design or only its content? The first book to outline principles for the aesthetics of sustainable design, The Shape of Green argues that beauty is inherent to sustainability, for how things look and feel is as important as how they’re made.
In addition to examining what makes something attractive or emotionally pleasing, Hosey connects these questions with practical design challenges. Can the shape of a car make it more aerodynamic and more attractive at the same time? Could buildings be constructed of porous materials that simultaneously clean the air and soothe the skin? Can cities become verdant, productive landscapes instead of wastelands of concrete?
Drawing from a wealth of scientific research, Hosey demonstrates that form and image can enhance conservation, comfort, and community at every scale of design, from products to buildings to cities. Fully embracing the principles of ecology could revolutionize every aspect of design, in substance and in style. Aesthetic attraction isn’t a superficial concern — it’s an environmental imperative. Beauty could save the planet.
make sense of it all— to sort, absorb, and digest it. How do you sip from a fire hose? In such an economy, the most precious resource, claims Lanham, is human attention, and what regulates attention is style. “Attracting attention is what style is all about,” Lanham writes. “If attention is now at the center of the economy, rather than stuff, then so is style. It moves from the periphery to the center. Style and substance trade places.” In an economy of stuff, science and technology rule,
is delivered.” This groundbreaking method pins down the elusive connections between quantity and quality—stuff and life—and puts real numbers to Schumacher’s goal of maximum well-being with minimum consumption. By this standard, in 2009 the “happiest” place on the planet was Costa Rica, which reports the highest life satisfaction in the world and the second-highest life expectancy in the Americas, after Canada. (The United States ranked 114th out of 178 in the HPI.) The same year, Yale
things to enhance environmental, emotional, and communal appeal all at once. “The standard of beauty is the entire circuit of natural forms—the totality of nature,” writes Emerson. “Nothing is quite beautiful alone. . . . A single object is only so far beautiful as it suggests this universal grace.” We have lost Emerson’s concept of beauty as a quality of association, and today we judge things—buildings, objects, people—in isolation. One dictionary defines beauty as “the quality present in a
tenth for longevity. The United States is thirty-eighth. “Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight,” notes Ackerman, but designers have yet to learn it. While research into the benefits of sunlight has become the backbone of conventional green design, little attention has been paid to touch. Tactile stimulation should be a vital ingredient in design, since touch need not come from other people, or even from living things. Hospitals have found that placing newborns on natural lambskin blankets
place of such exquisite beauty. Ned Cramer, Amanda Kolson Hurley, and Braulio Agnese, of Architect magazine, encouraged me to toy with these ideas in my monthly column from 2007 to 2010. From 2008 to 2010, Susan Inglis and Margaret Casey, of the Sustainable Furnishings Council and the World Market Center, enthusiastically supported and sponsored the “One Good Chair” competition, our attempt to 181 182 | Shape of Green encourage this book’s ideas among young furniture designers. Thanks go to