Illuminating the emergence of ecological design, from the original vision of independent thinkers in the 1920s to the powerful present-day movement, “Ecological Design: Inventing the Future” is a thematically stimulating if visually conventional documentary. Dealing with an important subject matter still obscure to the lay public, informative docu should air on public TV and also be used in classrooms.
Film features the ideas and inventions of pioneering philosophers and designers who have trailblazed the development of architecture, urban landscaping, energy systems, industry and public transport. Spanning seven decades of revolutionary thought, pic begins with the work of 1920s inventors R. Buckminster Fuller and Paul MacCready, outlaw thinkers whose visions went beyond the “convention and stupidity of politics.”
Because ecological design interweaves nature, technology and culture, docu relies on interviews with a diverse group of professionals, such as city planner Edmund Bacon, anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, biochemist John Todd and teacher/editor Jay Baldwin. Each pro sheds light on a different angle of ecological design, revealing theories, methods, goals — and commitment to a better future.
The movement strives for greater balance and harmony between nature, human beings and technology. Reflecting its comprehensive scope, “Ecological Design” illustrates its central concepts with location footage, animation, com-puter simulation, stills of patents and architectural blueprints.
Docu’s last and most practical segment is a detailed demonstration of how Jamie Lerner, mayor of Curitiba, Brazil’s “ecological capital,” engaged his whole town, including its poor residents, in a collective mobilization that involved new modes for garbage collection and public transportation.
Replete with ideas pertinent to the daily lives of average citizens, “Ecological Design” has significant implications for a radically different lifestyle in the future. While docu suffers from its format as an illustrated academic lecture, it should benefit such public forums as educational institutions, environmental conferences and national and regional museums.