2016Nine essential GDA perspectives on design trends
Soichi Ueda
Director’s Message

Living with nature’s blessing - and threats


The balance between human society and the natural world has been disturbed, as the surging global population continues to waste resources. Meanwhile, intensifying climate change around the world makes the future even less certain. Our coexistence with the global environment is growing alarmingly unbalanced. Yet we should recognize many attempts to disrupt this disruption and establish a mutual relationship on solid ground.

Living with nature's blessings

Coexistence with the global environment suggests two topics for consideration. The first is living with nature's blessings, and the second, which we also must remember, is living with nature's threats.

Needless to say, our lives depend on the bounty of nature. We forget this fact when we overemphasize economic gain, and by destroying the natural basis for this bounty, we are hastening our own demise. It is a deadlock we have been trying to break since the last century.

The will to tackle this issue head-on is seen in SOFORO. In an ambitious attempt to help us break free from detergents and cosmetics that rely on petrochemicals, this company has developed a way to create surfactants from microbial fermentation, which they have even taken to the stage of volume production. Widespread use of Soforo would have a significant positive impact. The efficacy of good design is seen in two other projects that promise - and deliver on the promise - to transform the negative image of garbage into the positive image of resources. One is the Urban oil field Exploration Project in Kyoto that produces bioethanol from municipal waste. Another is eco-bin that polishes the image of resource collection through effective design. Also deserving recognition is AGNI-HUTTE, and not only for its appealing appearance. By design, the stove can also burn cedar and cypress more efficiently, overcoming the difficulty of its use as firewood. Burning this wood puts a resource from beneficial forest thinning in Japan to good use.

Wise use of natural resources was also acclaimed in the Project of recycling oriented society using wind energy and hydrogen at island that promotes the use of renewable energy in remote places. Energy generated by a floating wind turbine was sufficient for a local community, and the surplus went to produce hydrogen for a fuel cell boat providing local transport. Admirable conservation also underlies the business model of the ECOproject. For more than two decades, this environmentally conscious construction has used local wood and replenished forests by planting three times the amount consumed. A similar cause - residential design honoring natural cycles and protecting biodiversity - MIYAWAKI GREENDO among mixed trees taps the existing terrain and ecosystem. And in Osaka, a conscientious real estate developer the Action to preserve biodiversity through local seeds and other measures.

Living with nature's threats

Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common, as shown this year by destructive Typhoon Lionrock's unusual path through Tohoku and Hokkaido. Living with nature's threats is also a pressing concern.

Flooding around river basins is likely to occur more frequently, but a laudable way to keep people aware of problems is the River Information System for Ishikawa prefecture , which integrates sensor data on weather and water levels. Users can receive flooding forecasts and news About evacuation on their smartphone. The design of FOMM Concept One - a compact, amphibious electric vehicle - may even save lives in the wake of tsunami or flooding damage.

Changes to climate and habitat have caused an array of problems, but the deer overpopulation that plagues some areas of Japan has found a unique response in a well-designed YUKURU. Many other entries, such as TOKYO BOUSAI and MUJI ITSUMO MOSHIMO, help us prepare for emergencies, although we also hope to see them address meteorological disasters.

Changing our views, cultivating awareness

Building a society in harmony with the global environment means fostering members of the society who have this wisdom and these sensibilities. Such innate nurturing qualities distinguish TAKAO 599 MUSEUM and the MORIUMIUS. The museum instills an appreciation for the nature of Mount Takao, and the learning center offers educational programs attuned to nature in Ogatsu, Miyagi.

AuthaGraph World Map reminds us that design can redraw the map of our world-view. The view presented by this world map is free of distortions in shape or size and has no definite center. It was designed to improve upon and correct past world maps, and we hope the message shared by this once-in-a-century invention will be appreciated by many.

Turning to my hopes for the future, I saw many projects in this year's program that are rooted in AI, IoT, biotech, or other advanced science and technology. Without a doubt, the impact of these developments may transform industries and everyday life. But precisely because they are so transformative, they should drive more efforts to solve local or global issues accounting for social values over the long term, instead of ending up in short-term innovation for immediate economic value.

I believe good design holds the power to channel good innovation into making coexistence with the global environment a reality.

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