Design Idea

Designing for Descent

Design strategies to help avoid a chaotic freefall.


‘Designing for descent’ embodies the spirit of our age.

  • Our civilisation may be on the verge of ‘collapse’. But collapse can be a steady, controlled contraction — a degrowth — rather than a chaotic implosion. Like a tree withdrawing the nutrients from its foliage in anticipation of winter.
  • It’s about making challenging design choices that might help stop us ‘overshooting’ our planetary boundaries, our increasingly unfavourable environmental and resource constraints. Guiding us down from stratospheric levels of consumption and emissions, in a controlled descent, to safer ground. 
  • Not to the destination we had once imagined perhaps, but to the one we may actually reach.
  • Adaptation and mitigation are both important components of any strategy, as we face up to realities, rather than procrastinate.

As we reach the end of the line of our exploitative mode of living, we’re going to have to get a lot leaner and more efficient in terms of what we create. 


“There is no such thing as sustainable development, only sustainable retreat”

James Lovelock

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