Reimagining Alternative Technology for Design in the 21st Century, reviewed

We look at this positive, challenging and informative book by Brook Kennedy. You can see more about Reimagining Alternative Technology for Design in the 21st Century here.

Reimagining Alternative Technology for Design in the 21st Century, reviewed

This is an enjoyable book to read. It covers super important issues in a deeply challenging time for the human race. One important aspect is the importance of considering that, in many examples, we may have already invented, developed, and built, sometimes centuries ago, effective working solutions to our living needs. The photographs in this book play an important role is visually reinforcing Kennedy’s points. The images of natural heat cooling solutions for desert based countries immediately convey the potential to have summer AC in a smarter, non fossil fuel guzzling way.

The book is divided into logical chapters, tackling heating, transport, design, furniture, and, as increasingly the case with climate change, it forcefully illustrates that we already have many of the solutions to achieve a lighter carbon footprint. It seems slightly insane that LA had an electrified transport system almost a century ago now, which effectively linked up the whole city. It was then dismantled, and LA became the sprawling, carmagedeon nightmare that it now is.

European cities have aimed to return to smarter transport systems. Though as recently as yesterday the UK Premier sought to portray himself as fighting back against anti-car factions, which shows how deeply political, depressing and over simplified the issues can be. There is a need for better air quality, less CO2 released, and other polluting elements, and to get to work, school or home on time. To reduce this down to pro or anti car seems like desperate populist sloganeering by a UK government who are staring down the barrel of an electoral wipe out.

This book is about so much more than that, and it reminds us that greener solutions can both improve our quality of lives, and also save money too. Hopefully this book is the success that it needs to be if humanity is not going to fall even more deeply into a climate crisis of its own making.

More about the book

Reimagining Alternative Technology for Design in the 21st Century presents a new approach to design that harnesses still-valuable alternative, traditional and abandoned technologies alongside the creation of new ones to address contemporary global problems. It focuses on design opportunities that reduce energy and material consumption to tackle issues such as climate change and pollution in industrialized economies.

The book takes the reader on a journey surveying different facets of human activity to identify underused and discarded technologies that could be indispensable today. It critically addresses newer approaches to design and technology by comparing them to existing alternatives, unpacking examples including air conditioning with smart thermostats, electric lighting, durable reusable products, domestic maintenance tools and methods of transportation.

Written for practicing designers and students in industrial design, architecture, sustainable design and human-centered design, this book provides new ideas and tools for creating more useful, energy-and-resource-efficient product designs and systems.

More about the author

Brook S. Kennedy is an industrial designer and Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, Arts and Design at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), US. There his research focuses on topics in sustainable design, materials and biodesign.

Prior to Virginia Tech he spent 15 years in full time practice, including as an Associate Director at Inclusive Design pioneer Smart Design in New York City, where he helped Fortune 500 clients and start-up companies embrace the value of human-centred design processes.

He has been honored with numerous international design awards from the Industrial Design Society of America, International Forum (iF), Red Dot (Best of the Best), Spark!, European Product Design Awards and the Chicago Athenaeum among others. His work has been covered in the New York Times, PBS Newshour, Fast Company, NPR and the Washington Post and has been exhibited internationally. He holds more than 20 utility and design patents and has published and exhibited internationally.

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