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