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A second look at Slow Design and when to respect petroleum

In reaction to fast food, fast fashion, fast information and the resulting disconnect between people, things and our environment, a movement has grown- slowly- over the past few decades among some designers who want to provide a “deep experience of the world” for the people who use their products.

This Slow Design has many authors and definitions, and while most would agree that “slowness doesn’t refer to how long it takes to make or do something”, there is a trend away from single-use objects and toward articles that last a bit longer.

Spanish architect Juli Cappella argues that this focus on duration should be applied with care. While he agrees some products should be built to last, others should be viewed like nature, where “everything is primary material for what is to come”. If this sounds a bit like Cradle-to-Cradle design, Capella would agree he’s right in sync with this philosophy that there doesn’t need to be waste if everything is designed to be nutrients for future generations of things.

Capella takes this viewpoint to an extreme, arguing that even petroleum comes from nature and is the “waste” of dinosaurs. He says he “loves petroleum”, but not as we use it as fuel for our cars, but for its power to save lives (i.e. for plastics in pacemakers). Capella cautions against viewing any material as inherently good or bad, arguing it’s all about how we use them.

In this video, Capella talks petroleum and plastic, flowers and lollipops and why materials can’t really be eco-friendly nor eco-harmful.

We also have videos with Capella on design as happiness, not sales and design to save the world.