In 2011 Danish architect Bjarke Ingels first coined the term “Hedonistic Sustainability” and since then, the idea has taken root and influenced industries well beyond architecture. The basic idea is that sustainability can and should be pleasurable.
When our founder and CEO Andrew stumbled upon this concept years ago, it immediately resonated with him. Since then, it's been an influence on how we operate as a company — everything from our ordering process to repair program — and we believe it has and will serve us well for years to come.
In order to understand the concept more clearly, it’s helpful to break apart the two words which the term combines, and what it means to LIVSN as both creators and consumers of outdoor apparel.
Hedonism often conjures up images of indulgence to an almost shameful degree. Think of the type of individuals who would put twinkies on their pizzas and regularly commit other similar atrocities without batting an eye. The reality is not near as harsh, as all that hedonism literally means is that one values and enjoys pleasure. Enjoying pleasure seems relatable enough for most.
All our etymology and Greek mythology enthusiasts out there might recognize the root word, ‘Hedone’, who was the child of Psyche (mind) and Eros (love). She was known as a goddess of pleasure and delight, and there is little evidence to suggest she was the twinkies on pizza type. Hedonism can be understood quite literally as a harmonious link between the mind and its desires.
While people might twist the means of acquiring pleasure into unsavory forms, the desire in itself is as natural as any other human need. It’s only once these pursuits start taking a toll on our planet that some stopped to think - how long can this go on for and is there perhaps a less destructive path forward?
A More Modern Approach
Enter the mid-20th century sustainability movement, a sort of collective human hangover from the Industrial Revolution. What exactly did we do the last millennia, and for the love of all that’s holy, how can we make the throbbing stop?
Sustainability became the counterweight to industrial capitalism, but in recent years the term has become so ubiquitous these days in modern advertising that it’s lost some punch through overuse.
At its most basic definition, sustainability means a system function to meet the needs of the present without depleting natural resources at a rate that will make them unavailable in the future. It’s a core concept for most companies these days, but most would struggle to define what that means for their supply chain aside from basics like recycling and waste reduction.
An Odd Couple for the Ages
Tying hedonism and sustainability together might seem like an odd pairing initially, but something about it starts to click upon further inspection.
The core message of Hedonistic Sustainability is that products can bring about pleasure both in the immediate physical comfort and the long-term mental assurance. Businesses should strive to produce goods that function like an indulgence due to their function, last due to their quality, and preserve more than they consume due to a sustainable supply chain. Products that are pleasurable and sustainable remove the guilt often associated with pleasure and give both customer and company a new metric in evaluating a product’s value.
This kind of mindset highlights the connections between products and people, seeing them not just as ends and means, but a connected ecosystem of sorts that rely upon one another.
Back to Basics
If this is starting to sound a little too New Agey for you and we’ve lost you, then let’s come back down to earth and talk simple nuts and bolts.
Virtually everything we use or consume on a daily basis had a long journey through its unique supply chain before reaching us. Whether it’s an hour or a decade, this journey extends to the time before you gain it and after you discard it. Hedonistic sustainability aims to unite the before, during, and after of any product under its umbrella, while also making you smile and feel sort of fuzzy when you use it due to the pleasure its use brings in the immediate and broad sense.
A Balanced Business Model
Hedonistic Sustainability is about balance, and this philosophy struck a chord with our founder, Andrew Gibbs-Dabney, way back when LIVSN was just a twinkle in his eye. Ever since, it has served as an undercurrent for the company as it has grown to its current state (and my oh my what a glorious state that is!)
We all pursue pleasure in various forms throughout life, but increasingly so, we are more aware than ever of the impact upon the environment our desires create. If there’s a happy medium between rabid overconsumption and bland austerity, Hedonistic Sustainability neatly fits the bill and our brand’s philosophy.
If nothing else, it is an intriguing concept and one we are eager to explore as we grow with like-minded individuals.