Designed for the Future | Book Review
A book review of “Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World” by Jared Green.
In Designed for the Future, Jared Green tackles the topic of contemporary design ideas that are creating a more sustainable world. The format of the book is a direct result of his approach to research for the publication. In asking eighty designers, landscape architects, planners, and engineers what they believed was moving the allied design professions to a more sustainable future, he compiled eighty ideas and project case studies which are featured in the book.
Green starts the dialogue about the need for green and environmentally conscious design with professionals and then transfers that to a reader friendly format appealing to a wide audience. Not only is the book a useful tool for project ideas but it is also a strong starting point for case study research as it provides a concise yet in depth project snapshot of each idea. The work is a summary of cutting edge, innovative, creative, and technologically advanced ideas designers are deploying today for a more sustainable tomorrow.
Designed for the Future
Judge a Book by its Cover
The comfortable size of the book makes it appealing to stash on a bookcase at home, on a desk, or in a bag for traveling. Graphically, the cover is appealing and establishes a design language that is carried throughout the book, from front to headings to subheadings to back. More successfully, the excerpt on the back cover is but a few sentences, followed by a three-column list of names, instead of an overbearing, multi-paragraph synopsis.
The list names 80 global leaders in sustainable design, including architects, landscape architects, journalists, urban planners, environmental leaders, and artists, who all share their insights and philosophies within the book. First impressions are strong, as this is a well-packaged book that is easy to leaf through.
The book is a compilation of 80 ideas offered up by those 80 sustainable design leaders, each with a one-page write-up and supporting images. For a casual reader or someone looking for quick inspiration, this is a great book to flip through. Since the explanations are short, the reader can learn a wealth of information about a topic or project in just a few minutes.
The reader should not expect to become an expert on a specific topic, as this book does not delve in to the nitty-gritty details but rather presents generalizations and broad overviews of ideas. The topics covered in the book range in discipline and scale, from Mikyoung Kim’s small-scale playscape to Mia Lehrer tackling poverty and urban sprawl at a community planning level.
The format of this book makes it easy for the reader to digest information and know what to expect on the next page. Each project or idea is given a name (example: The High Line), followed by a designer (example: Jeff Shumaker.) Before the multi-paragraph project description, there is a tagline in red that grabs the reader’s attention (example: suspend disbelief and see the potential). With that information and a supporting image or collage of photos to the right, readers gain a quick understanding of the idea being presented.
In the case of The High Line example, Jared Green explains the history of the project, tells how it came to fruition, speaks to the public-private partnerships that made the project a reality, and emphasizes how collaboration was influential in making the idea a reality.
By looking at the title, designer name, tagline, and biography, the reader can grab information to plug into a search engine and begin more in-depth research or study on a topic. The book is repetitive in format, which makes it predictable and easy to read.
About The Author
Jared Green may be a familiar name to landscape architects in the online publication realm, as he is the editor of “The Dirt,” a blog produced by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). As Senior Communications Manager for ASLA, he researches, interviews, and writes on a variety of topics including apps for landscape architects, the impact of infrastructure and cities and general project reviews.
Why Should You Get This Book?
“Designed for the Future” is well written and easy to read, appealing to a wide variety of designers, both professionals and students. The ideas are refreshing, the information is specific without bogging down the reader with too much technical language, and the photos are eye catching.
This would be a great book for a student in the design field or someone outside of the design world looking for an introduction to all that architects, landscape architects, urban planners, and environmentalists study. A comment about a specific project can be taken into a broader sense in saying that the goal of this book is to “form a new language of sustainability that is beautiful and legible to everyone.”
If you love this book, check out these other book reviews:
- Drawing for Landscape Architecture
- Detail in Contemporary Landscape Architecture
- Visual Communications For Landscape Architecture
Pick up your copy of Designed for the Future today!
Review by Rachel Kruse
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