Jonathan Chapman Speaks at NASA’s Langley Colloquium Series


Professor Jonathan Chapman, Director of Doctoral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, will be speaking at the Langley Colloquium Series, a forum on science and technology sponsored by the NASA Langley Research Center and the Virginia Air and Space Center. The Colloquium Lectures, currently entering its 50th year, provide monthly lectures and demonstrations related to science and technology.

These lectures are intended to stimulate the creative processes of Langley employees, and enhance the quality of life at Langley by providing more opportunities for learning. Chapman’s featured Colloquium talk takes place on November 9th to an audience of NASA engineers and scientists. Chapman joins an incredible list of former Colloquium speakers which include Alexander Rose (Long Now Foundation), Margot Lee Shetterly (author of Hidden Figures), John Mather (recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics), and Nate Silver (author of The Signal and the Noise).

Chapman’s talk, Design that Lasts: Sustainable Design Thinking for Positive Change in the World, looks at the devastating ecological consequences of our current “throwaway society.” This lecture calls for an economy of better, not more. Through an inspiring repertoire of theoretical ideas and practical examples, Professor Chapman investigates why we throw away things that still work, and shows how we can design products, services, and systems that last. 

“Never have we wanted, owned, and wasted so much stuff,” said Chapman. “Our consumptive path through modern life leaves a wake of social and ecological destruction—sneakers worn only once, bicycles barely even ridden, and forgotten smartphones languishing in drawers.”

“By what perverse alchemy do our newest, coolest things so readily transform into meaningless junk?”

A sustainable design specialist who serves as a consultant to global businesses and governmental organizations, Chapman calls for the decoupling of economic activity from mindless material consumption and shows how to do it. 

“Obsolescence is an economically driven design decision—a plan to hasten a product’s functional or psychological undesirability,” continued Chapman. “Many electronic devices, for example, are intentionally impossible to dismantle for repair or recycling, their brief use-career proceeding inexorably to a landfill.”

Chapman shares his vision for an “experience heavy, material light” design sensibility. This vital and timely new design philosophy reveals how meaning emerges from designed encounters between people and things, explores ways to increase the quality and longevity of our relationships with objects and the systems behind them, and ultimately demonstrates why design can—and must—lead the transition to a sustainable future.

Much of what Chapman will talk about is featured in his latest book, Meaningful Stuff: Design That Lasts

Learn more about the Langley Colloquium Series >>

Buy Meaningful Stuf: Design That Lasts >>

Learn more about the Doctoral Program at the School of Design >>

Date Published: 
Wednesday, November 3, 2021