Great Design is Sustainable Design


"There are professions more harmful than design," wrote Victor Papanek in the 1970s, "but only a few."

Papanek – considered the modern father of responsible design – accused designers of “creating whole species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe, designers have become a dangerous breed."

If this is so, then

why not consider social and environmental factors when designing future products? And having done this, why design unsustainable products at all? 

100% Sustainability Begins with the Design

According to the article, “100% Sustainable: Product Design,” there are three primary considerations when designing products.

You should make:

  • Products that use fewer materials
  • Products that use fewer components
  • Fewer products

This may seem like a quick way to squelch the creative process, forcing designers to think beyond just their own product design. However, quite the opposite is true. It allows them to imagine a better design, a better way of making their creation effective and effectively making their creation.

After all, sustainable design focuses on reducing the environmental impact of a product during its lifetime: design, manufacture, use, and disposal/reuse. This includes choosing strategies that avoid using toxic substances, minimizes material and energy use, and creates plans for reuse, repair, or recycling.

Sustainable Design Good for Business

In the December 2011 article, “IDEO's Steve Bishop on the Future of Sustainable Design Thinking,” Steve

Bishop suggests that too many people view sustainable design in a negative light.

Many people approach it from a glass half-empty point-of-view, which is not inspiring and not fun. It's not an inspirational topic for a lot of people; it's "we've got to save ourselves." 

Instead, Bishop suggests looking at sustainable design as an opportunity to make a positive impact and to grow business. For his team, it is about innovation and looking at the demand side – what people want and how to meet those needs. Rather than becoming clouded by ideas of “efficiency, supply chain optimization, or regulation,” he suggests figuring out how to find new markets, get new users, and be more sustainable.

That’s where Design 1st comes in. We understand how product development and sustainability coincide along with meeting your needs. From choosing materials, manufacturing processes and packaging requirements we help guide clients make sustainable decisions throughout the product development lifecycle. Contact us to discuss how we can help bring your product to life.

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