Environmental design: does it have anything to do with the environment?

The word environment has always been linked to location. Unconsciously we think of sustainable buildings. However, I believe that environmental design is much more than that.

Nowadays, location is relative. New technologies allow us to visit virtual places or to virtually visit real places. So the word environment might now entail new meanings. The social environment can sometimes be much more important than the physical one.

With this new definition of environment as the social, cultural & physical context, I would say that environmental design is based on a community: “individuals who share something”.

That “something” can be the location, but can also be a common interest, a need or a way of thinking.

As it is no longer bounded to a place, this opens up a new range of possibilities for environmental design. And in many occasions it will overlap with product or service design, and the techniques used will also be similar and transferable.

So at this point, I wonder how necessary it is to label what we do or how we do it. After all, designers (though it is not always the case) are meant to design for people, taking in account their needs and wants, the context and their environment in all their meanings.

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