Fall 2020: Although this work is over ten years old, given the circumstances we find ourselves in during the COVID-19 global health crisis, we have been forced to slow down on a scale never before seen. It feels fitting to bring this research back up to the surface, and to be revisiting old friends who have been working away at slowing down in pursuit of a more sustainable existence on Planet Earth.

This body of work seeks to understand evolving social processes in tandem with sustainable design strategies in order to reorient the design process from early conception to realization. With slow design, the goal is to reduce the social and environmental impacts locked in during the design process by effectively slowing down cultural and industrial metabolisms, and focusing on holistic well-being (individual, socio-cultural, and environmental).

Ecological and slow design author Alastair Fuad-Luke writes in ‘Slow Theory’ that setting such goals encourage those engaged in design to take a long view; stimulate a renewed joy in design (and its outputs); celebrate diversity and pluralism; and focus on the present.

Read Sarah’s thesis paper here.

Conceived as a floating structure, built mostly of salvaged materials, the project component of the thesis (RAFT) is used as a way to test and work through the creative possibilities that surround slow design.

RAFT is a research tool – a conceptual and physical sounding board to uncover and develop a template for practicing slow design. The method was conceived primarily for industrial designers, and therefore more often than not includes a physical product output. It has the ability to transfer to other forms of sustainable design and production.