Whether it’s horror at plastic littering the world’s beaches, or despair at the melting of the polar ice caps, the world is gradually waking up to the impending climate disaster. In The Green Imperative, Papanek argues for design that addresses these issues head on. This means using materials that can be recycled and re-used, no more pointless packaging, thinking about how products make us feel and engage all our senses, putting nature at the heart of design, working at a smaller scale, rejecting aesthetics for their own sake, and thinking before we buy.
First published at the close of the 20th century, the book offered a plethora of honest advice, clear examples and withering critique, laying out the flaws and opportunities of the design world at that time. A quarter of a century on, Papanek’s lucid prose has lost none of its verve, and the problems he highlights have only become more urgent, giving today’s reader both a fascinating historical perspective on the issues at hand and a blueprint for how they might be solved.