INTRODUCTION - written 2005. This booklet could be considered as a form of manifesto, a word that has become unfashionable in a world that cares more for style and consumption than for ideologies. The manifestos of the early twentieth century came out of an idealism for a better world after the horrors of world wars. Maybe we now face a similar crisis and the time is right for both idealism and practical ways of attaining those ideals. I went to Antarctica with the Antarctica New Zealand programme that takes two artists to the ice every year. The intent of this laudable initiative is to communicate something of this amazing and unique place through the sensitivities of artists of all disciplines, rather than through the normal scientific journals or national geographic-type articles.
In a planet overloaded with material things what justification is there for one more new design? Can we afford to squander our dwindling resources on ephemeral fashion changes? - on something new for the sake of being new? Energy and raw materials are used both in an object's creation and in its (invariably too soon) disposal. The only justification for me is not the object itself but its message. If it acts in some way as an agent for change, if maybe it causes a few thoughts and reflections then it has a value. The waters that are parted by a sailing boat's passage come together in its wake and leave no trace of its passing. I would like to live like this and yet I see a trail of litter behind me and an irreversible change on the planet.
Essay for catalogue for exhibition of the same name, Hawke's Bay 1998. Imagine a small block of wood, an off-cut say of indeterminate species. What would you think about it? To answer, you would need to know where you are visualising it. Lying in a log basket its only value would be calorific -- too small or of the wrong species to be of practical value. Neatly stacked on a woodworker's shelf, the same block would have the value of potential use. So the way we think about an object, and the value or meaning we give to it, depends on where we are seeing it -- on its CONTEXT.
Every year, as part of the DesignIsland festival , Arts Tasmania invites an overseas designer to run a retreat workshop. It is held at an eco-lodge in one of the most beautiful and remote parts of Tasmania, the Bay of Fires. Mid-career participants are selected from across Australia by local Arts Councils. In May 2009 David Trubridge was asked to host the workshop and he came with his partner Linda as co-host.
No thinking or caring person doubts that we are at a crucial moment in human history. Enough of us are acutely aware of how overconsumption is threatening our environment and our future. There is a groundswell of concern, but action and solutions are alarmingly scarce. Just what can we do? Small steps have been tried and have largely failed. Reading the advertising copy you would be forgiven for thinking that “eco-design” has solved the problem. It hasn’t and it won’t. Eco-anything has become an advertising spin to promote the business of consumption as usual. There is only Good Design or Bad Design -- if design is not actively trying to preserve our future it is, by default, destroying it.