In the early days of conversation about Nau, long before we officially opened for business, we talked about the idea of living a “considered” life. We thought about it as it related to our own lives. We also thought about it as it related to our business and, more specifically, our product. The idea was to consider every detail of our product in the context of our overarching design philosophy. We said we wanted our product to be beautiful, perform in the functional sense of the word, and be as sustainable as possible. As part of that aspiration we wanted our product to be multifunctional and durable, physically and aesthetically, so that in the end you’d have to buy less of it. Not business as usual but what we believed to be the way of the future.
The recent financial crisis has caused us to return to this conversation. In fact, I suspect it’s a conversation that is being repeated elsewhere. We seem to be re-thinking the notion of consumption and, in some instances, our relationship to the material world.
That’s why I was so struck when I read Bruce Sterling recent essay The Last Viridian Note . In it he reflects on his own personal relationship to goods and services (mostly goods) and how that relationship has been revolutionized since he wrote his seminal manifesto Viridian Design in 2000. In his most recent writing he asks the question:
“What is “sustainability? Sustainable practices navigate successfully through time and space, while others crack up and vanish. So basically, the sustainable is about time ” time and space. You need to re-think your relationship to material possessions in terms of things that occupy your time. The things that are physically closest to you. Time and space.”
He goes on to say that possessions should be divided into four distinct categories:
-Emotionally important things.
-Tools, devices and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.
Sterling argues that anything in the “everything else” category should be documented in a digital image bank and then removed from “your time and space.” Although they may belong to you, they don’t belong with you. He goes on to say “Their blissful absence from your life makes new time and space for something better for you ” and for the changed world you want to live to see.”
It’s a provocative read from a person who has demonstrated the ability to see the future. I highly recommend creating some time and space (in this case about five minutes) to The Last Viridian Note .