By Amy Tourgee, guest blogger, Kent Place School alumna and Environmental Studies undergraduate at Princeton University
On Sunday afternoon, I accidentally but fortuitously read a certain New York Times article. Since I now live at a research center in the middle of nowhere in Kenya, I thought I’d bounce over to NYT online to see what was happening in the world. The article was titled “Why We Love Beautiful Things,” which I thought might have to do with fashion or something (okay, I got a little distracted from world news).
It turned out to be much more interesting. It was about how certain geometrical patterns in nature have universal appeal to humans because we are programmed in our genes to like them. For example the classic 5 x 8 “golden rectangle,” takes the form of a credit card to the Parthenon. Paintings with these certain proportions and geometry can reduce stress and boost productivity in the workplace. The article even mentions the fractal density of the famous acacia trees of African savannas (clearly, a personal shout out to me). The point is: great design comes from science, from nature.
So I downloaded the free sample of the book the article is kind of based on (The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design by Lance Hosey) onto my kindle. Two pages in, I get that traditionally, great design has rarely equaled green design. It seems Hosey is out to disprove this. And I can’t help but think of the economic consequences of a movement that allows great and green design to coexist.
“Does it pay to be green?” is a question that arose a lot in my Environmental Economics course. Incorporating environmental awareness into the design of buildings and businesses may allow companies to increase their profits. Not only can you market your business as having corporate social responsibility by being green, but also innovation for green reasons may reduce inefficiencies. For example, if a business innovates to cut back its use of water, it also then saves money by using less water. The whole concept of great design = green design may have a powerful economic effect on business.