The Object of Nightingales: Design Values for a Meaningful Material Culture
This discussion considers a basis for design values that is congruent with age-old understandings of human meaning as well as with contemporary notions of sustainability. A critique of naturalistic materialism and its relationship to unsustainable interpretations of progress and growth is followed by a consideration of practical, social, and personal meaning and the relationship of these to human values. A basis for meaningful values emerging from the world's wisdom traditions, and thence a basis for ethical judgment, are related to design decision-making. Some common, but ethically questionable, unsustainable design practices are considered - including product transience and distracting modes of use. Finally, ethical, sustainable design decision-making is considered, which includes notions of moderation, the appropriate place and role of products, and the justification for their production in the first place. The result is a basis for product design and production that aligns more closely not only with sustainable principles, but also with deeper, more enduring understandings of human flourishing.