This new journal from the Design Museum is on a mission to reshape sustainability discourse

Greenwashing is a word that’s cropped up more and more over the past few years, used to encapsulate the practice of brands, official bodies and governments purporting to be incorporating or following green practices while a primary scraping of the surface proves it to be lip service. It’s no stranger in the creative industry too. We recently spoke to the creative studio Companion–Platform about how illustration and design is currently being used to mask environmentally damaging practices, and how the studio actively counter these trends by thinking like ecologists.

It’s this sentiment that the journal is trying to fight against – empty narratives; it wants to provide a new future, and new visions. “Crucially, it is about expanding the frameworks within which design operates, opening up space for new narratives,” says Justin. “Because ultimately the green transition cannot just be a technocratic focus on cutting carbon, but must involve a shift from one story to another.”

The first issue of the journal focuses on bioregioning, “a practice that attempts to understand and operate within natural boundaries, rather than political jurisdictions”, says Justin. He continues: “The reason why that is interesting is because political borders (whether national or local authority) often cut across bioregions, and prevent a coherent approach to managing or indeed regenerating that landscape.” The concept was developed during the counterculture movement in the 1960s and 70s in tandem with the environmental movement. In recent years, it’s had something of a resurgence; taking into account how the core ideals of the concept can promote new biomaterials, moving away from global supply chains, but also, more intangibly, how it can help to grow local knowledge and skills. “You might say it is a much more networked version of the original idea,” says Justin.

Through each issue, the theme will be broken down into three interconnected sections: Forecast, Practice and Strategy. In issue one, Forecast (which acts a bit like trend forecasting for concepts) breaks down some of the key elements of bioregioning into a “vision for an alternative future”, while Practice supports the former with case studies, design practices, interviews and think pieces. And finally, Strategy “zooms out” to decipher systemic and policy implications of bioregioning. Just two pieces in amongst an array of brilliant writing, is an interview with anthropologist and design theorist Arturo Escobar about bioregioning in Colombia’s Cauca River Valley, and a deep dive into Kohei Saito – the Japanese interpreter of Marx, Kohei Satio – and the slow growth movement in Japan.

Through presenting new narratives and frameworks the journal wants to help foster – albeit complicated – a sense of hope. “Simply put, we want to revive the idea that we can still have a liveable future. That’s why our strapline is ‘Design, ecology and a future’”, ends Justin.

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