Dark Design:A New Framework for Advocacy and Creativity for the Nocturnal Commons

Dunn, Nick (2020) Dark Design:A New Framework for Advocacy and Creativity for the Nocturnal Commons. The International Journal of Design in Society, 14 (4). pp. 19-30. ISSN 2325-1328

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Urbanization continues to provide habitat for more and more of the planet’s human population. Accompanying this process are the energy, transport, and service infrastructures that support urban life. Enmeshed in these networks is artificial illumination and its unintended consequences. Light pollution, for instance, accounts for a growing global carbon footprint, yet more efficient artificial lighting methods using LEDs have resulted in increasingly higher levels of brightness at night. This is altering natural cycles of light and dark, directly impacting on the circadian rhythms of our bodies and having disastrous effects upon other species and their ecosystems. This issue of critical importance has been referred to by some scientists as a hidden global challenge but the public awareness and understanding of it is negligible. Where is design in addressing such poor performance? The growing problem of how we perceive darkness and the attempts to manage it, typically through artificial illumination, requires new design strategies to create viable alternatives to current pathways. How can we advocate for the “nocturnal commons” when the majority of society does not even know what is disappearing or understand the implications? This article proposes the concept of “Dark Design” to set out a new framework for advocacy and creativity to raise awareness of these complex issues and address them. By bringing together a diverse range of approaches, “Dark Design” seeks to establish a field for emerging principles and practices to design with darkness rather than against it. In doing so, it calls for the important and urgent need for design to commit, act and engage others in the future of our planet, its people, and non-human species.

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Journal Article
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The International Journal of Design in Society
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17 Dec 2020 11:55
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:01