Forms of Sustainability

Forms of Sustainability investigates intersections between critical practice and sustainable design, material culture and design history. Aiming to further develop the theoretical and methodological aspects of critical and conceptual design, the project inquires into conceptions of 'form' in light of the contemporary social and environmental challenges posed by sustainability. Combining theoretical, historical and practice-based approaches to design research, we explore how design critique and critical practice can be combined to surface and explore issues in, and about, design.

The aim of Forms of Sustainability has been to develop theories and methods relevant to design practitioners, researchers, teachers, and students. The project builds on experiences from a series of previous design research programs, such as Static! and Switch! (funded by the Swedish Energy Agency), the resulting international touring exhibition Visual Voltage (commissioned by the Swedish Institute), and from a series of cultural and curatorial projects involving the design community and the public such as DESIGN ACT, Tumult (Gustavsberg Konsthall, 2009) and Conversation in, within and about a Sofa (Arkitekturmuseet, 2011).


Forms of Sustainability was funded by the Swedish Research Council (project number 2008-2257) between 2009 and 2012, led by RISE Interactive (formerly called Interactive Institute) and Konstfack. Main researchers include Johan Redström (project leader), Ramia Mazé and Christina Zetterlund, with additional participation from Mahmoud Keshavarz and Matilda Plöjel.BESbswyBESbswyBESbsw Lisa Olausson is also a contributor to the book.

The book

The project results in a book - click on the link in the sidebar for more information - SHARE THIS BOOK: Critical Perspectives and Dialogues about Design and Sustainability (Stockholm: Axl Books, 2013). The book is available in print and free digital editions through the publisher's website and many traditional and online bookstores. In the book are original articles, dialogs, examples and images by Ramia Mazé, Lisa Olausson, Matilda Plöjel, Johan Redström, and Christina Zetterlund. In its thoughtful content and experimental form, the book has wide appeal for design practitioners, researchers, teachers, and students. To order the book:

Print version:,,,, etc.
Electronic version (free download):




Announcing the first comprehensive book about this substantial research project by the Interactive Institute and Konstfack!

Matilda Plöjel, Ramia Mazé, Lisa Olausson, Johan Redström, and Christina Zetterlund (eds) (2013) Share This Book: Critical perspectives and dialogues about design and sustainability. Stockholm: Axl Books. ISBN (Print) 9789186883140 ISBN (E-book): 9789186883195

This is a critical time in design. Concepts and practices of design are changing in response to historical developments in the modes of industrial design production and consumption. Indeed, the imperative of more sustainable development requires profound reconsideration of design today. Theoretical foundations and professional definitions are are at stake, with consequences for institutions such as museums and educations as well as for future practitioners. This is ‘critical’ on many levels, from the urgency need to address societal and environmental issues and the reflexivity required to think and do design differently.

This book traces the consequences of sustainability for concepts and practices of design. Our basic questions concern how fundamental concepts that have become institutionalized in design may (or may not) be adequate for addressing contemporary challenges. The book is composed of three main, authored sections, which present different trajectories through a shared inquiry into notions of ‘form’ and ‘critical practice’ in design. In each section, there is a dialogue between text and image – theory and practice, argument and experiment – in which photographic, graphic, facsimile, or other materials act not as illustrations but as arguments in another (designed) form. Each argument interweaves theoretical, historical and practical perspectives that, cumulatively, critique and reconfigure design as we see it.

Table of contents

Introductions, p. 5

Form-Acts: A critique of conceptual cores, Johan Redström, p. 17

Beyond institutionalized practice: Exhibition as a way of understanding craft and design,  Lisa Olausson (design) and Christina Zetterlund (text), p. 49

Who is sustainable? Querying the politics of sustainable design practices, Ramia Mazé, p. 83

Concluding dialogue, p. 125

Extended colophon (or Why share this book), Matilda Plöjel, p. 129

Interim pages, Lisa Olausson and Matilda Plöjel, p. 15, 47, 81, 123

The form of the book embodies concepts explored in the book and breaks with many of the unsustainable logics of large-scale publishing. It is published with the forward-thinking Stockholm-based Axl Books and is available in a limited print-run and a free electronic version (Creative Commons license).

order the book

Print version:,,,, etc.
Electronic version (free download):

press release