Design for a Better World: Meaningful, Sustainable, Humanity Centered
How human behavior brought our world to the brink, and how human behavior can save us.
The world is a mess. Our dire predicament, from collapsing social structures to the climate crisis, has been millennia in the making and can be traced back to the erroneous belief that the earth’s resources are infinite. The key to change, says Don Norman, is human behavior, covered in the book’s three major themes: meaning, sustainability, and humanity-centeredness. Emphasize quality of life, not monetary rewards; restructure how we live to better protect the environment; and focus on all of humanity. Design for a Better World presents an eye-opening diagnosis of where we’ve gone wrong and a clear prescription for making things better.
Norman proposes a new way of thinking, one that recognizes our place in a complex global system where even simple behaviors affect the entire world. He identifies the economic metrics that contribute to the harmful effects of commerce and manufacturing and proposes a recalibration of what we consider important in life. His experience as both a scientist and business executive gives him the perspective to show how to make these changes while maintaining a thriving economy. Let the change begin with this book before it’s too late
Praise for Design for a Better World: Meaningful, Sustainable, Humanity Centered
"A brave attempt to expand the scope of what one considers the possibility and responsibility of good design.”
"Norman’s book is admirably ambitious."
—Fast Company's Co.Design
"Don Norman has worked in electrical engineering, cognitive psychology, computer science and design, in academia and industry. Now in his eighties, he draws on this experience to explain how designers, governments and industry must “broaden the notion of design from human centred to humanity centred”. In other words, they must emphasize quality of life, not monetary rewards, and reject harmful economic metrics. Only thus, he argues, will we survive the current environmental and economic crises."
"Norman (founding dir., Design Lab, Univ. of California–San Diego; Living with Complexity) looks out on a world beset by climate change, inequality, and unconscionable waste. Nonetheless, he is optimistic. He believes that humans can change what they’ve created. Design is the key, for it can mobilize systems to address the complex interface that technologies, policies, and people have."
"Norman (emer., Univ. of California, San Diego) offers a treatise on sustainable design, positing that too much of the world is designed rather than natural. According to Norman, people are surrounded by artifacts such as homes, clothes, tools, and books. This situation projects backward over millennia to hunting and farming existence. People born into this way of living have difficulty thinking of alternatives. Norman challenges readers to change their way of being, recognizing that people, nature, and the environment are a single complex system in which any change to a part might impact the whole. According to Norman's argument, designed things change the way people behave, act, and live: "we design the world, and it, in turn, designs us" . He calls for a mobilization of the many to change the world into one in which success is measured not in money but in the wellness and happiness of all people. He believes the design profession must be rethought and move toward a circular economy centered on recycling through designing for repair, regeneration, and reuse. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students and professionals."
"Don's Design for a Better World challenges the reader to critically examine the normative existing systems that inform and construct our everyday lives. Through pragmatic explorations, the book uncovers biases within calendar systems, scientific measurements and other constructions that constrain our existence for potential meaningful change. This book is an excellent introduction for those interested in human-centered design, design justice, systems design and the role of design in informing sustainable practices. Don's perspective is refreshing and optimistic, urging everyone to consider dismantling existing systems of power to bring about a 'better world.'"
—The Association of Registered Graphic Designers