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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Imagining a Green Future with Viridian

Posted by admin | October 20th, 2006 | Filed under Design, Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

viridian.jpgAt least three or four times a week I troll my favorite website worldchanging.com. During a recent visit, I discovered Viridian, the design movement that takes its name from the Latin viridis, meaning “green.” The goal of the movement, started by Bruce Sterling, is to advance environmental awareness through revolutionary art and design, or as phrased on the official Viridian website, to “create irresistible demand for a global atmosphere upgrade.â€?

What I find so intriguing about Sterling’s Manifesto of January 3, 2000 is his supposition that global warming is not an economic or political problem but rather a design and engineering problem–even a problem of artistic sensibility. He goes on to posit a theory of change that requires creating an “advanced cultural eliteâ€? who will generate new awareness and requirements for more enlightened ways of living. Sterling argues that the task of this group is to:

“…design a stable and sustainable physical economy in which the wealthy and powerful will prefer to live. Mao suits for the masses are not on the Viridian agenda. Couture is on the agenda. We need a form of Green high fashion so appallingly seductive and glamorous that it can literally save people’s lives. We have to gratify people’s desires much better than the current system does. We have to reveal to people the many desires they have that the current system is not fulfilling. Rather than marshalling themselves for inhuman effort and grim sacrifice, people have to sink into our twenty-first century with a sigh of profound relief.â€?

In a world that has largely defined environmentalism in terms of constraint, sacrifice and doing without, I find the notion of fulfilling people’s desires through smart design not only refreshing but also radical. It’s a tall order, but presumably one worth aspiring to.

2 Responses to “Imagining a Green Future with Viridian”

  • October 25, 2006 at 9:37 am | douglas says

    Environmentalism as a design challenge is on the front edge of entreprenuerism right now. A great example of Veridian philosophy is the Tesla roadster, a Silicon Valley outfit’s electric sportscar. Unlike the current hybrids on the market, the Tesla roadster is 100% electric (solar panels as an option) and very fast (top speed 135mph, 0-60 in about 4 seconds). It’s sexy, too:


    Demand has been very high, they have a year of backlogged orders despite its $100,000 pricetag. Tesla’s planning on rolling out a cheaper luxury sedan and then a economy car in the coming years, but it’s telling that the company started with the high-end performance market first. Green isn’t crunchy hippy stuff anymore.

  • October 26, 2006 at 8:37 am | Ricardo Salcedo says

    For more on the future check out Sterling’s Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the NExt Fifty Years. Bruce, much like the approach in Sustainable Capitalism, beleives that change will come from commerce/ capitalism. Cool prducts (i.e. Nau)which are hip and sustainable are the way to a greener future.

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