Sustainable Design Versus Aesthetic Design - Sample Essay

Design is that area of human experience, where skill and knowledge is concerned with man’s ability to mould the environment according to his material and spiritual needs. It is used to analyse and identify problems to find an appropriate solution. Designers have created all kind of functional designs to help improve people’s lives. They were interested in the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.

Although there are examples of pre-historic art, they are rare and the guidelines that they followed are not so clear, Thus the aesthetic doctrines that guided their production and interpretation one mostly unknown. However, recently designer notice what happing to the world such as global worming due to human action. Then they set some laws in designing for the environment benefit only regardless of what the design look like, where this is not existed before.

However, defining and judging a good design have become rising concern between designers. Some believe in design just for design’s sake and that a design should stand alone and be judged mainly on its aesthetic merits. Others believe that a designer’s role is mainly one of social responsibility and that a good design should be judged by the degree to which it promotes human welfare and environmental sustainability.

This essay will explore the functional and environmental concern of The Designers Accord first and then discuss the aesthetic centred approach and will argue that the primary obligation of a designer is to promote the wellbeing of society and the environment without ignoring the aesthetic value in which it is as important as functional and environmental values. From a concern community of designer, The Designers Accord was born.

Swan (2008) defines The Designers Accord as “a coalition of design and innovation firms focused on working together to create positive environmental and social impact” which can be shown by either promoting new products or services; or guiding the consumer to develop pro-environmental habits. This accord aims to encourage designers to make a positive impact by producing a sustainable environmental friendly alternative designs (Sawn 2008). In other word, considering sustainability in manufacturing is the first step toward a cleaner and healthier environment (Swan 2008).

However, the Designer Accord has a well defined guidelines for designers, including: designing sustainability education; and providing sustainable alternative materials and strategies (Swan 2008). For example, planning smaller houses considered to be a green trend as it requires less material to build and less energy to function (Wolf 2010). A third point in this guideline is that every design firm should measures and significantly reduces its greenhouse gas emissions (Swan 2008).

Another point is reworking “client contracts to favour environmental responsible design and processes” (Swan 2008). According to Wolf (2010), a good designer should find a balance between the client requirements and the environment wellbeing. This balance can be achieved by educating the client about the detrimental impact of current designs and the sustainable alternatives (Swan 2008). However, the Designer Accord alone is not a complete solution as the complete require a complete participation from individuals, groups and endeavours working across a range of areas (Swan 2008).

Never the less, some believe in design just for design’s sake and that a design should stand alone and be judged mainly on its aesthetic merits. According to Donald et al (2008), designers, septically architects, have the right to experiment with new forms, processes, and materials without any regard to the environment. Moreover, they assert that “architects must become confident in architecture for architecture’s sake, asserting their trained eye for design rather than falling back on cliched cod-scientific justifications” as architecture and urbanisation is a simple of creativity and cultural sustainability.

For example, in old cities such as Barcelona or Copenhagen or the Victorian architecture style, all presents a local identity through aesthetic merits, which emphasize human attributes in architecture (to Donald et al, 2008). However, these cultural aesthetic merits have been undermined by very restricted pro-environmental guidelines (Donald et al, 2008) such as, The Design Accord. As a result, modern architecture has lost the engagement with the local cultural identity and the sense of creativity has been reduced (Donald et al, 2008).

Where experimenting and exploiting the plant resources will result in a better world than trying to protect the environment (Donald et al, 2008). A good architecture does not need any ethical diminution and responsibility regarding the environment and just design for the design sake (Donald et al, 2008). What they both fails to consider is that the aesthetic value and the environment value, if they are used together it will benefit the design.

Good design should have the flexibility, creativity and responsible design approaches and methods, and also good communication (Wolf 2010). According to Meyer (2008) the aesthetic value could increase the functionality of a particular the design. He also states that In designing urban eras parks consider as aesthetic value, but it also has an important effect on the environment in two ways: they are environment cleaning machines and shady groves of trees reducing temperatures, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

The aesthetic value engages all the senses sight, sound, smell, touch and taste and it includes both making of things and places, which means it could increase functionality of particular design (Meyer 2008). As a result, some aesthetic qualities solve more or less complex problems when its noticed and appreciated (Folkmann 2010). However, the issue of aesthetic in design is crucial, so raising this issue would only lead to diffuse and sometimes-unqualified discussions (Folkmann 2010).

In retrospect, the designer dilemma is deciding what are the values to conceder to judge a good design. Frome this perspective we have two group of designer. The first one believes that good design judged by the degree to which it promotes human welfare and environmental sustainability, which we can see in The Designer Accord guideline. Others believes that good design should be judged only on its aesthetic merits where some designer promote in their design and calming that the restricted pro-environment guidelines limited their creativity to produce good beautiful design.

This essay has argued that the best approach is to equally conceder both side in a good design, simply because the environmental have the right to maintain its integrity. Where the aesthetic help the design in many ways: engages all senses, increase functionality and solve problem. With out this balance the environmental design may not be used often and the aesthetic design might be useless.


Donald, A. Williams, R. J. et al. 2008, ‘Mantownhuman, Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture’, Mantownhuman. org, Viewed 14 August 2011.

Folkmann, M 2010, ‘Evaluating Aesthetics in Design: A Phenomenological Approach’, Design Issues, Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 40-53, viewed 14 August 2011. Meyer, E. K 2008, ‘sustaining beauty. The performance of appearance’, Journal of landscape Architecture, Vol. spring, no. 5, pp. 6-23. Viewed 14 August 2011. Swan, C. 2008, ‘Design and Social Responsibility: The Designers Accord’, Design Research Group, no. 10, Viewed 14 August 2011. Wolf, P. T. 2010, ‘a positive difference’ Luxury home design, Vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 302-303, viewed 14 August 2011.