EcoLabs' article on Design Activism.  Creative Review, October 2008

Activists at Climate Camp 2007 march on BAA's Heathrow offices. The 'shields' feature images of a cross-section of the world's population. Photo © Kristian Buus 


The design industry is an import­ant player in the creation of a sustainable society. Designers could help the world collectively rise to the challenge, but only if we wrench our creative faculties free from their recent history as servants of industry, pawns in a game that spawns the conspic­uous consumption that is now clearly causing ecological overshoot.

In the wake of the latest IPCC reports, activists have become increas­ingly focused on climate change and are confronting the systemic problems that lay at the heart of the crisis. The Stern Report made it clear even within the highest corridors of power that climate change threatens to be the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen. We are now witness­ing a movement of people convinced that we cannot buy or sell our way out of this predicament.

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