Holistic Sustainability Through Craft-Design Collaboration  book cover
1st Edition

Holistic Sustainability Through Craft-Design Collaboration

ISBN 9781138479470
Published May 13, 2019 by Routledge
276 Pages 130 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book explores the intersection of craft, design and sustainability in the developing world. It argues that most sustainable design approaches and efforts fall short of implementing holistic sustainability, and in order to reach this goal, design must be underpinned by alternatives to the mainstream, technology-intensive, industrial design paradigm.

Renewable materials such as bamboo, cork and hemp – which are abundantly available in the developing world – have the potential to be a viable resource base for sustainable development. Current sustainable design initiatives and approaches already recontextualize these materials using industrial techniques and technologies. However, these efforts fall short of impacting holistic sustainability and tend to focus on the ecological aspect. This book offers the development of one alternative to design for holistic sustainability, called the Rhizome Approach, which draws on existing sustainability praxis and craft. Holistic Sustainability Through Craft-Design Collaboration includes customizable tools which aim to empower designers to guide and evaluate their own designs. Through these tools, and the Rhizome Approach in general, the book aims to enable designers, and students of design, to move beyond green and sustainable design, to holistic sustainability design.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 

2. Sustainability and Development 

3. Sustainability by design 

4. To craft, by design, for sustainability 

5. The Rhizome Framework 

6. The Rhizome Approach 

7. The Bamboo Space-Making Craft Workshop 

8. Feedback on the Rhizome Approach 

9. Encouraging the use of the Rhizome Approach 

10. The Holistic Sustainability System 

11. Insights and Conclusions

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Rebecca Reubens did her Ph.D. on the intersection between craft, design and sustainability at Delft University, the Netherlands. She practices in the same domain through her sustainability design firm Rhizome, and is an ambassador for the World Bamboo Organization.

Featured Author Profiles

Author - rebecca  reubens

rebecca reubens

Founder & Principal Designer, Rhizome
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Learn more about rebecca reubens »


"This book offers a thoroughly researched, field-tested approach to design for sustainability in grassroots maker enterprises. With its practical framework, design examples and focus on renewable materials, it challenges our current unsustainable trajectory of unbridled growth and waste. It is an important, eminently useful and much-needed contribution to the field."Stuart Walker, Chair of Design for Sustainability, Lancaster University, UK and author of Design Realities: creativity, nature and the human spirit

"This book provides useful insight into sustainable product design practice especially for developing economies. It advocates for a sustainable design system that balances social, economic and cultural factors in production to consumption systems. The recommendations in the book by Dr Reubens, are backed by research and several years of experience in creating quality bamboo products which are sustainable."Lilac Osanjo, Director, School of The Arts and Design, University of Nairobi, Kenya

"Design practitioner Rebecca Reubens succeeds in bringing systematic design to crafts people that employ renewable, abundant materials. Her reflections in this book result in a practical framework for holistic sustainability to protect the environment and grow the economy, and also sustain and nurture the culture, skills and communities of craftsmen. Its application paves the way to craft out of poverty, with valuable and sought-after products, that sustain the planet and the culture and traditions of its people."René Van Berkel, PhD, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Project Manager Greening Handicrafts Value Chains in Vietnam

"The design fraternity talks a lot about design for inclusive sustainability, however, this is rarely put into real practice. Rebecca's tremendous work creates a truly inclusive approach for design for sustainability, by including cultural elements next to the ecological, economical and social. Her book and approach offer a new way of design thinking, and simultaneously a very hands-on approach to apply holistic sustainable design in daily design practice. This is definitely the way forward to walk the talk and tackle the wide range of the societal challenges we encounter nowadays!"Jan Carel Diehl, Associate Professor, Design for Sustainability at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

"The book is an insightful outcome of an exciting interplay between research and practice. Insights that can only emerge from someone who has deeply engaged with issues of sustainability both practically and critically. In challenging the typically narrow perspectives on sustainability, the work has much to offer to both practitioners and researchers interested in social enterprises and sustainability. The shout out for recognizing the critical role for craftspeople and indigenous knowledge in challenging complex problems is a call that needs to be heard across disciplines."Ankur Sarin, Assistant Professor in the Public Systems Group and Ravi J Mathai Center for Innovation in Education at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

"This book is an invitation to designers for imagining and developing alternative models of engaging with society, environment, and people that address sustainability holistically. While craft-based livelihood development models have been widely experimented with over the past 40 years in developing countries, this book does an excellent job of examining how designers are responding to current anthropogenic pressures in increasingly fragile ecologies."Tanishka Kachru, Associate Senior Faculty and Head, NID Publications, National Institute of Design

"This book not only explores the differences and interactions between sentimental value and aesthetic value, but it also offers practical approaches for implementation of a sustainable product design process. As climate change looms ever closer, the author provides well-written and inspiring research on how, as designers and consumers, we can take responsibility for creating a sustainable future. The writer has conveyed an in-depth knowledge of the subject so that it can be easily absorbed by a wide audience."Patrick Gilabert, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Director Brussels Office and Representative to the European Union, European Investment Bank, Secretariat of the ACP Group of States

"Rebecca Reubens has written an inspiring book which introduces a holistic sustainability design approach. The book clearly illustrates how collaboration of craft and design can contribute economic growth in developing countries with renewable materials. I suggest this book can open up new perspectives for researchers, practitioners and strategists who study sustainability."Gülay Hasdogan, Professor of Industrial Design, Middle East Technical University, Turkey

"This book is a result of Dr Reubens' devotion to not only researching sustainable materials, but to her hands-on practical experience and those of her students. Her discipline and natural design-sense combine to provide her with the keen perspective of the relationship between the environmental impact of how a society creates products, and how that impact can be minimized. Her dedication to bamboo has been well-recognized by her peers and this book contains the best information on bamboo available in print."Susanne Lucas, Executive Director of the World Bamboo Organization

"Some years ago, a group of us came together under an IUCN umbrella to try and understand what sustainability actually was, or could be. We concluded, after much ground investigation on several continents, that sustainability was a mountain wrapped in mist. We may not know precisely what it is, but we all want to get there. Mapping the journey with intelligence may be more important than predictions or arrivals. That is the value of Rebecca Reubens’ effort. Her experience reminds us that sustainability will ultimately need to be demonstrated by ordinary folk within the marketplace, through livelihoods, products and services that enhance the wellbeing of communities as well as of the environment that shelters us all. Although this book focuses on handcraft and on bamboo, its lessons extend well beyond the handmade or any one material. I hope this book will receive the serious attention which it so richly deserves, and most particularly among the generation now coping with the havoc my generation has inflicted upon them." — Ashoke Chatterjee, former Director, National Institute of Design, and former President, Crafts Council of India