Sustainability and Beauty

Today's topic is built once again around sustainability:

  • Are sustainability and beauty concepts separated by nature?

  • How can we merge aesthetics into ecological approaches?

Especially this second questions is one I want to deepen in through my path in design. Some even consider green design and great design inherently different, being almost incompatible. But does it have to be this way?


Sustainable architecture, justifies itself by claiming to be pursuing a higher truth— in this case, that of saving the planet.
The goal justifies many design crimes, from the relatively minor ones of the production of phenomenally ugly buildings... to the creation of spaces and forms that are not particularly good for either the inhabitants or their surroundings.
— Betsky, A. (2010)

I believe that sustainability and beauty must go together. Sustainability is no longer an option these days, and beauty is our ultimate longing as designers, but also as persons. It is a universal human desire.

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty, I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
— Fuller, B. (2002)

On this realm, I would recommend a fantastic read: The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design. It has been inspiring for me, so I will share some notions on general concepts, and how this has shaped the view of sustainability in my design practice.

The Shape of Green cover (2012)

The Shape of Green cover (2012)

One of the key learnings were the Three Principles of the Aesthetics of Ecology:

Three Principals of the Aesthetics of Ecology according to Lance Hosey

Three Principals of the Aesthetics of Ecology according to Lance Hosey


  • Conserve: Shape things to respect resources. Shape for efficiency with the aim of smart consumption as well as smart production.

  • Attract: Shape things to be easy to use. Shape for pleasure and emotions.

  • Connect: Shape things to embrace place. Design to enhance local identity.

And one of the most important concepts I received was: "to turn beauty and sustainability into the same thing."  (Hosey, 2012)

Desktop mascot: woodtoy by  Nawis .

Desktop mascot: woodtoy by Nawis.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
— Keats, J. (1818)

The experience of design per se is a powerful trigger for emotional connection, and in the end, for the product conservation itself. I see this reflected in myself, I carry around objects that have personal meaning from place to place. We should not underestimate the power of this connections.

Beautiful objects enhance our lives and sustainability does not have to deprive us of these satisfactions. They should support each other through smarter, more meaningful design.

In the end, we conserve only what we love.
— Baba Dioum

What moves me is the idea of creation that nurtures a long-term value relationship with people and our surroundings. The fabrication of objects and spaces that have a multi sensory appeal, with a life span that delivers beauty, pleasure and joy constantly, not only at its first approach.

Because how much can something survive if it does not enhance our soul?

Design should inspire, evolve and last through time, proving how our actions can fit into the world with respect.

Thoughts on Sustainability. (2017)

Thoughts on Sustainability. (2017)