top of page
  • conshumourism

Why Design, Humour & Sustainability?

"It's funny to dream of an equal and just world!" ok, so be it!

  • Socio economic inequality exists due to systems of oppressions, which is a result of prejudice among those with power to design these systems.

  • The other side of this inequality story is that it produces immense privilege for a small section of society owing to their identity and institutional opportunities.

  • Climate crisis is majorly caused due to waste, pollution, biodiversity collapse and massive resource depletion. This is a result of consumerism promoted by capitalistic economy which is driven to maximise profit.

  • Sustainability aims to solve these problems of inequality and climate crisis.

  • Design in its large commercial sense has aided and accelerated consumerism and maximised profits for capitalists through deception. Design creates goods and services which moulds behaviour of people.

  • Prejudice in design has ensured systems of oppression continue to persist or has created new ones.

  • Conshumourism aims to employ humour to promote ideas for a more sustainable society through (discursive) design.

“Humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.”

What is humour being used for?

To design prompts to influence sustainable behaviour and get people (including designers) to think about sustainability. To think about what design is doing to the world and also how we behave as people in the social, economic, ecological and political spheres.

How is humour being used?

As a treatment of the interventions design to influence a certain sustainable behaviour and provoke thoughts around sustainability.

Why is humour being used?

An elaborate list of psychological, social, cognitive & political reasons exist for using humour.


  • is entertaining and playful.

  • aids in radical shifting of perspectives.

  • is a tool to speak truth to power.

  • is taken increasingly seriously in the age of internet.

  • makes truth palatable.

  • makes things memorable. We are hardwired (cognitive bias) to remember things that are funny as opposed to those that were not.

  • has snowballing effect. Humour builds through sharing.

  • helps in connecting dots. It is a creative exercise just like design. Both are based on observation and bisociation.

  • exposes absurdity. Helps in disillusionment.

  • provokes introspection and reflection.

  • acts as a social lubricant. Aids conversation.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is the idea that challenges and acts as a solution to the problems of socio economic inequality and climate crisis. Pollution, waste and systems of oppression are all designed problems.

Why design for sustainable behaviour?

Design for Sustainable Behaviour (DfSB) is one the many strategies under the idea of design for sustainability (as show below). Potential of sustainability is higher with systemic and people centric changes as opposed to product and technology centric changes. DfSB is an strategy that spread over the range of product, service and system levels and that addresses the socio-ethical along with economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability.

What is design doing wrong currently?

Design is largely only fuelling consumerism to profit the big corporations which is actively creating inequalities in terms of social and economical status of large masses. Design is employing deceptive techniques to lure people to continuously and mindlessly consume. Prejudice in design is largely unaddressed and it results in a society that disadvantages many people depending on their identity.

Design is greatly alienated from production and manufacturing and people are alienated from the producers. Fast has become a direction.

There is certain seriousness that is abundant in the design space that is diminishing the element of play which is central for any creative activity.

"Design has become so absorbed in industry, so familiar with the dreams of industry, that it is almost impossible to dream its own dreams, let alone social ones."

What kind of design will be employed?

Discursive design.

The word "discursive" comes from “discourse,” which can be understood most basically as the expression or treatment of a topic, part of a discussion or debate. A discursive design is an object that has been intentionally (and usually abstractly) embedded with discourse and/or is used to elicit discussion. Discursive design operates at the genus level, below which there are many species, such as critical design, design fiction, speculative design, etc.

21 views0 comments
bottom of page