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Sustainism Is the New Modernism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era Paperback – December 31, 2010

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Sustainism - It's Got a Name, Now Do It - The New York Times

Sustainism will drive the creativity of the twenty-first century. By connecting the issues of sustainability, social networks, localism, biomimicry, community, urban planning, food and a host of others, Michiel Schwarz and Joost Elffers offer a canvas on which we might paint the future of our society.
                                -- Tim Brown, CEO and President, IDEO

Here's the skinny. Modernism is dead, and design needs a new "ism" to define it. Whatever that "ism" turns out to be, it needs to be all of the following: ethically and environmentally responsible; socially and geographically inclusive; collaborative; networked; sensitive to nature; and savvy enough to make the most of: a) leaps in technology, and b) both globalism and localism.

Sounds sensible? Sure, if rather familiar. There have already been several attempts to categorize this new approach to design as "the new design," "sustainable design" and part of the cultural movements of "polymodernism," "supermodernism," "super-hybridity" and so on. A book to be published next month is proposing another new "ism" -- "Sustainism."

Written by the cultural theorist Michiel Schwarz and the designer Joost Elffers, "Sustainism Is the New Modernism" bills itself as a "cultural manifesto" that proposes "a new vocabulary and a symbolic language for a new era." The result is more like a branding exercise than a conventional book. It identifies the principle elements of Sustainism -- responsible, inclusive, collaborative plus all of the other virtues cited above -- and presents them as a brief statements and slogans illustrated by different typefaces and specially created graphic symbols. --Alice Rawsthorn, International Herald Tribune, January 9, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers (December 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935202227
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935202226
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #615,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michiel Schwarz is a Dutch independent cultural thinker, innovator, researcher and producer, working from Amsterdam, Netherlands and the United States (Berkeley, CA; New York). He is the creator, with Joost Elffers, is "Sustainism is the New Modernism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era" (DAP Distributed Art Publishers New York, 2010. see:, in which the concept of 'sustainism' as the next cultural era was launched. For information on his manifesto for Sustainism see
His most recent book (2013) is "Sustainist Design Guide: How sharing, localism, connectedness and proportionality are creating a new agenda for social design". (With Diana Krabbendam. BIS Publishers, Amsterdam) The book was published in Europe in June 2013 (available via In the U.S. it will be available from October 2013.
Other books by Michiel Schwarz include "The Technological Culture" (with Rein Jansma), "Divided We Stand" (with Michael Thompson) and "Speed: Visions of an Accelerated Age" (with Jeremy Millar).
Since completing his PhD in the sociology of technology at the University of London, he has worked as a cultural consultant and has advised public organizations in the Netherlands and other European countries. He has initiated a wide variety of projects exploring global issues, design, technology, media and progress.
Currently he develops projects on sustainist culture, under the banner of Sustainism Lab.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By LinzF on April 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I must have misunderstood the description of this book, it is not what I thought it would be. This book touches on a concept which I see in my everyday life being an interior designer. I was ecstatic to see someone had written a book coining the term "sustainism" but once I received this from amazon I was disappointed to realize the book only briefly touches on the subject and doesn't elaborate or come to any real conclusions. The amazon description does mention the book having graphic pages, but the entire book is filled with what I would call conceptual graphic images. I read the entire book in less than a hour, and was inspired by probably 10 pages of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bofy on September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sustainism is a manifesto, this means that the authors dont need to explain an document everything in the book. As a researcher in the field i have to say i was not unaware of any of the concepts discussed and i was surprised by how comprehensive the book was. Nothing was missing. I am not sure about how accessible the information would be for someone with little or no background in sustainability. Beautifully made and meaningful book but not an introduction book to sustainability.
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