An extended version of Kjetil Fallan’s keynote lecture delivered at the 5th STS Italia conference in Milan last year, A Matter of Design: Making Society trough Science and Technology, has now been published in Tecnoscienza: Italian Journal of Science and Technology Studies. The article, ‘Our Common Future. Joining Forces for Histories of Sustainable Design’, seeks to map out the historiographical and theoretical landscape for the BaSF project.
A common ground is emerging for social and cultural studies of design. Design history is exploring the socially constructed and networked nature of our material surroundings; at the same time, STS is investigating design as the interface between humans and technology. This common ground is particularly interesting where it intersects with the rapidly growing fields of environmental history and environmental humanities. Today, environmental concerns, especially issues of sustainability, are essential parameters in all design practices. However, this ‘green revolution’ is a glaringly white spot on the design historical map, still awaiting its scholarly historicization. Historical understanding of, and critical reflection on, the rise of sustainability as the primordial trope in design discourse is essential to building a solid knowledge base and to underpin present and future decision-making. This article will argue for the urgency of charting this terrain, and call for design history, design studies, STS and environmental history to join forces in the pioneering efforts at studying histories of sustainable design.