The acceleration of the environmental crisis directly involves economical development. On the one hand, because of the greater consumption of raw materials, on the other hand because of the increase in the emission of pollutants. Additional factors are the shorter utilisation life of goods that quickly become rubbish that must be disposed of, the felling of forests and the increase in the production and utilisation of synthetic chemical products. The time has come to renew the models that define societies, the concepts of richness and poverty, of space and time, of sharing and selfishness and of growth and degrowth. We are meditating on these topics because we believe mankind is facing an epochal challenge. A challenge that we can win, all of us together. To begin with, let’s open a debate on the deepest meaning of design and on its consequences in the perception of reality. In other words, we can ask ourselves whether the ability of a designer should be that of creating something useless for a chosen few or elaborating shapes to combine functionality and style for everyone. A democratic and humanistic concept of design, intended as a tool to simplify everyone’s daily life.
Demode doesn’t want to be a mere “Made in Italy” furniture brand that has chosen care for detail, ergonomics, product quality and respect for the environment as the cornerstones of its design philosophy. Rather, it wants to transmit the conviction that it is possible to create a different future by re-elaborating and promoting a new culture.
WHAT IS DEGROWTH?
Serge Latouche says that to talk about degrowth is like launching a challenge, risking a provocation. On the one hand it is an iconoclastic action, on the other hand it is a new way of talking about our being here, now, in the world. We want to try to question the divinity we have adored, or the maps and symbolic frameworks we have acted in for centuries and that we are in a habit of confusing with reality. One may ask oneself whether it is possible to question our imagery, whether it is realistic to set up a society that is not based on growth as an end to itself. We affirm that to recognise our ecological and social interdependence and our fragility as human beings is the only way to actual realism, the only way to avoid concluding a pathological process of adaptation that, by consuming the ecological basis on which our development took place, would have catastrophic results.
We are not against technology but for a different kind of technology. A sober, durable, sustainable and convivial kind. Our ability to reconsider our technological structure today may allow us to limit the risk of an unavoidable degrowth, or of one imposed by the authorities, tomorrow. We must prove ourselves able to reconsider our basic values and accept the risk of imagining the after-development phase, a society based on degrowth.
To be realistic today doesn’t mean adapting to a system that is destroying itself but to be ready to make long-sighted decisions, in a broader time and political perspective than we are normally used to reasoning in. This is why it is important to build a relationship and reach an agreement between generations: we have to learn to think in a time perspective of several generations and not just of our own. This also summons the need to create new national and international institutions and/or radically reform existing ones.
We’re neither talking about teaching ideal behaviours nor blaming anyone for each consumerist action. Rather, the most important challenge is the ability of putting together different social habits, relations that are symbolic, evocative, richer from a human and social viewpoint, in other words, more desirable.
We must simultaneously face a number of subtle changes in our frame of mind and in our life styles. It’s not a matter of suggesting abstract dreams or preparing technocratic plans: in a complex world we can’t be sure of what will happen next and when, but we can undoubtedly start to do something beginning from ourselves, from our current position, from our relations, from our territory, from the place we live in, to start virtuous processes. In this sense we suggest reinventing a different idea of beauty that leads us to view the city, the territory, the landscapes and human communities under a different light.
We are talking about on-going research that puts us deeply and radically to the test.
Redistribute: to guarantee access to natural resources and to a fair distribution of wealth to all the inhabitants of the earth, ensuring work satisfaction and a dignified lifestyle to all. To plunder less rather than to give more.
Re-evaluate: to review the values we believe in and on which we organise our lives, changing those that must be changed. Selflessness must prevail over selfishness, cooperation over competition, the pleasure of having spare time to spend over the obsession of long work hours, the pleasures of social life over unlimited consumptions, local over global, beauty over efficiency, reason over rationality.
Renovate: to adapt the economical-production structures, consumption models, social relations, lifestyles to this change in values in order to direct them towards a degrowth society. The more this renovation is radical, the more the systemic character of dominating values will be eradicated.
Re-locate: to primarily consume local products produced by companies supported by the local economy. Consequently, every economical decision must be taken on a local basis, with local needs in mind. Furthermore, if ideas must ignore frontiers, the transfer of goods and capitals must be reduced to a minimum, thus avoiding the costs connected to transport (infrastructures, but also pollution, greenhouse effect and climatic changes).
Reduce: both the impact on the biosphere of our production and consumption methods, and work hours. The consumption of resources must be reduced until it reaches the ecological capacities of one planet. The energetic power necessary for a decent standard of living (heating, personal hygiene, lighting, transportation, production of fundamental goods) is approximately equal to the power consumed by a small, continuously operating, radiator (1 kW).
Repair: to repair equipment and goods instead of throwing them into a dump, to overcome the obsession of the obsolescence of goods, functional to a consumption-oriented society, and the continuous need for something new. We are talking about lengthening the life-cycle of products.
Recycle: to recycle all the non-decomposable waste deriving from our activities.
Re-contextualise: to modify the conceptual and emotional context of a situation, or the point of view from which it is experienced, in order to change its meaning completely. This change is indispensable, for example, for the concepts of wealth and poverty, and even more urgently for those of scarcity and abundance, the “diabolical couple” that founded the economic imagery.