Bamboo: From Green Designing to Sustainable Design, Rebecca Reubens, Rainbow Publishers,
Pp 264, Rs 2300.00
Written by a designer who believes in sustainability in designing of bamboo for durability and for adoption of designs by poor but skilled people, this book presents the history of local use and design with bamboo, showing the beauty in everyday products. It also highlights bamboo’s potential for contemporary design and building in traditional uses and shapes for modern use.
The designs and technology are discussed in the context of social and environmental changes, providing a technical and cultural journey through the world of designing and bamboo.
The author inspires designers to move beyond “green” or eco-design into the realm of holistically sustainable design by focusing on bamboo – an ancient renewable product, which has recently seen resurgence in its popularity, in both design and sustainability. Besides highlighting bamboo’s versatile applications and their impact on ecological, economic, social and cultural sustainability, the author offers a holistic hands-on approach for designers and other stakeholders to develop sustainable products by applying the ‘Rhizome Approach’, a framework developed in this specific context. The approach not only includes the traditional sustainable ‘pillars’ – people, planet and profit, but also integrates the cultural dimension, which is very significant in the context of bamboo, craftspeople and rural communities.
The Rhizome Approach is designed to function as part of a holistic system, where natural resource management, community mobilisation and organisation, market analysis, designing and development, skill training and capacity building and institution building form a comprehensive strategy or the framework. Some positive aspects of the framework are many. For instance, most traditional craftspeople are unable to perceive or cater to markets outside their villages as they are accustomed to traditional markets, with their direct links between producers and buyers. Designers explain the modern markets to the craftspeople through collaboration innovation, enabling them to cope with the process and consequences of industrialisation.
The designer can refer to the triad of traditional material, technique and context and to design the crafted contemporary artefact in collaboration with craftspeople.
The Rhizome framework records and creates a cultural repository through PLW or Product Library Workshop and links craft documentation and facilitates the production of the cultural capital and intellectual property rights of traditional craft communities through geographical indicators.
Collaboration between the designer and craftsperson maximises the skill and knowledge each brings to the innovation process. While the craftsperson brings indigenous knowledge and practices validated over time as being sustainable, the designer brings value with his access to transformation and technology on current issues, including sustainability.
Finally, different ways of working with bamboo and how they impact sustainability are discussed. On reading one tends to agree with the author when she says “While bamboo is one of the most renewable materials known to man, it has much to offer beyond green designs.”
(Rainbow Publishers, 19/11, Parishram Apartments, Satellite Road, Ahmedabad: 380 015; www.biblioasia.com)