cover image The Green Imperative: Natural Design for the Real World

The Green Imperative: Natural Design for the Real World

Victor Papanek. Thames & Hudson, $19.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-500-27846-8

When designer Papanek lays down precepts for design in the 21st century or questions a professional code of ethics, he is clearly addressing other designers and architects. But when he explains Le Corbusier's ``visual accoustics'' or the Wiener Werstatte, it seems safe to assume he envisions a broader audience of consumers who, if made aware of the possibilities, can demand better, more responsible design. As in his Design for the Real World, Papanek derides conspicuous consumption and rapid obsolescence. Using examples drawn from various cultures and other research to bolster his case, he urges designers and architects to incorporate ethics (Does an object help the needy? Does it use scarce resources?) and humanity (Do the light, acoustics and scale foster a sense of well-being?). While Papanek is all for fun in design, he dismisses such senseless elements as add-ons that don't really improve performance (the annoying car voice intoning ``your door is ajar'') or miniaturization that ignores the limits of the human body. He urges consumers to break the cycle of consumption and be aware of the difference between eye-catching marketing and good design. The Green Imperative itself lacks something in design: it covers so much that the argument is occasionally diffused. Still, Papanek is committed to his subject and becomes almost poetic when discussing Inuit and Balinese design or the necessity of integrating the ephemeral and the permanent. 152 illustrations; 46 in color. (Oct.)