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The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention

The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention
Author: David W. Orr
ISBN 13: 9780195173680
ISBN 10: 195173686
Edition: N/A
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2004-10-14
Format: Paperback
Pages: 248
List Price: $21.95

The environmental movement has often been accused of being overly negative—trying to stop "progress." The Nature of Design, on the other hand, is about starting things, specifically an ecological design revolution that changes how we provide food, shelter, energy, materials, and livelihood, and how we deal with waste.

Ecological design is an emerging field that aims to recalibrate what humans do in the world according to how the world works as a biophysical system. Design in this sense is a large concept having to do as much with politics and ethics as with buildings and technology.

The book begins by describing the scope of design, comparing it to the Enlightenment of the 18th century. Subsequent chapters describe barriers to a design revolution inherent in our misuse of language, the clockspeed of technological society, and shortsighted politics. Orr goes on to describe the critical role educational institutions might play in fostering design intelligence and what he calls "a higher order of heroism."

Appropriately, the book ends on themes of charity, wilderness, and the rights of children. Astute yet broadly appealing, The Nature of Design combines theory, practicality, and a call to action.


After Orr (environmental studies, Oberlin College) embarked on what was to be a fairly straightforward ecological design project on campus, he found himself entangled with architects, engineers, materials scientists, landscape ecologists, philosophers, fund- raisers, and other exotic professionals. The 21 essays here emerged from that experience. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)