As a Product design student I developed a strong interest in sustainable design and joining the Ecodesign Centre team was the opportunity to expand on my area of interest beyond ‘making things out of cardboard’ and understand what sustainability means in a professional world. I met with Frank the morning of my arrival to discuss areas of interest around design for the circular economy. We quickly decided that it would be good to investigate the life cycle of the disposable ball point pen, and the surrounding sustainable issues and possible opportunities to improve them, hopefully raise some interesting points along the way. My preconceived ideas on the investigation were that the ballpoint pens (the Biro) are clearly an unsustainable product and my goals were to find out how unsustainable, and what could be done to make it sustainable. During my time here however it became clear that in the world of sustainable design there is no simple black and white, and solutions are not straightforward. To gain a real understanding I had to analyse the life cycle in more detail. Luckily for me there is a wealth of knowledge on BIC® the company that revolutionised the biro and in particular their Cristal ballpoint pen (it’s got its own Wikipedia page). It made for some interesting reading as according to Wikipedia, up to 2004, 100 billion Cristal ball point pens had been manufactured, and as BIC® themselves admit their ’products are generally not designed to be recycled’, as the singular product is not significant enough in weight and volume to be considered recyclable (Societe BIC, 2005). It begs the question ‘where are they all now?’ To put that into context, if you were able to collect and stand each pen end on end, there would be enough to reach the moon and back 20 times and would weigh approximately 590,000 tonnes.
We have all experienced the annoyance of failing products. We are pretty much guaranteed that everything we own will break at some point in the future. Some large things we will keep repairing for as long as possible (houses, cars etc.) mainly due to the expense of buying new ones. However, a lot of products that break on us are quickly thrown away. Whether this is due to lack of time, knowledge or skills to repair them or just because it’s easier or cheaper to replace it with a new product. But what if we started to repair?Tweet Read More
Through investing in design Welsh Industry can contribute to a more sustainable society. This is best evidenced through looking at businesses designing products with more innovative features and reduced environmental and social burden. One such example is Orangebox, a Welsh furniture design company with whom the Ecodesign Centre have worked closely since 2007. Orangebox are a sustainability focused and design-led business whose innovative products are multi-award winning. Orangebox as a business are committed to investing in ecodesign which considers the full life cycle impacts of products and processes (from raw material extraction to end of life treatment).Tweet Read More
Watching the salterbaxter infographics on food waste made me wonder what role packaging plays in creating all this waste. For me the infographic demonstrates that we need to redesign the whole systems in order to get rid of waste. But if we were to just look at individual components such as packaging how would they look different to the current traditional designs. I’ve pulled together some latest developments in packaging to get a better understanding of what makes packaging sustainable.
On Wednesday I attended an Insider breakfast event hosted by Douglas Friedl at the Mercure Holland House Hotel, Cardiff. The event was well organized with a particularly good turnout from Welsh industry. Structured around a panel debate, to launch Made in Wales Awards 2012, the audience had been invited to submit questions in advance. The questions covered a broad range of issues including skills, infrastructure and the wider perception of Wales as a brand. My question centred on the panel’s view of environmentally and socially responsible design within their vision of sustainable growth. Their responses to my question are summarised here.
I presented at Business In The Community’s annual Mayday Summit last week. The key message I wanted to communicate was the value of creativity, through design and innovation, in delivering a Zero Waste Wales. The evolution of Orangebox’s product portfolio clearly demonstrates design as both a tool and a strategy for waste reduction across the lifecycle of a product.Tweet Read More
The ‘do’ chair is the latest in a line of ecodesign-led products from Welsh contemporary office seating company, Orangebox, who are no ordinary seating company. They take their environmental and social responsibility seriously. They care, and design accordingly. In fact design is at the core of their business model.
The ‘do’ chair is their most impressive offering yet. It looks great, has been designed to carefully consider its full life cycle (through to strategies for reuse), and shows without any doubt that ecodesign and good design are one and the same thing. The chair has a clear focus on less materials, parts and product miles without any compromise on style, quality or functionality.
image source: OrangeboxTweet Read More
image source: http://sugru.com/
I recently attended the INSPIRING MATTER innovative encounters between science, art and design hosted by the RCA‘s Materials for Living Hub and the Materials and Design Exchange of the MATERIALS KTN. The event brought scientists, artists, designers, anthropologists and material enthusiasts in general together to ‘facilitate dialogue’ across material related disciplines.
Materials are products. I’m not a material scientist, I am a design-researcher and I understand the difference between a good product and a bad one. This idea of a material being a product is not a new one, but there is a new level of material control or design intent that is available to us now that has not been previously. We can design materials to behave in unique and innovative ways that suit our visions and whims. We can create responsive materials, e-paper, and even, materials that appear to be invisible. It is clear that material science is undergoing some evolution. I see this from a number of perspectives . . .Tweet Read More
Have a look at the agendas for our ‘Zero Waste by Design’ event series.
The series starts on Wednesday morning, February 29th and finishes on Thursday afternoon, March 1st at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.
There are still some places available on http://zerowastebydesign.eventbrite.co.uk/
We’re looking forward to seeing everyone on the day.Tweet Read More
This week I was delighted to attend the launch event of the Materials for Living exhibition, which is showcasing the work of selected RCA materials research at parliament. The exhibition is on display at the House of Commons, is sponsored by Coca Cola and run in conjunction with Policy Connect‘s APDIG (Associate Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group) and the APSRG (Associate Parliamentary Sustainability and Resources Group). The event was hosted by Barry Sheerman MP with speeches from Dr. Paul Thompson rector of the RCA and Patrick McGuirk, Recycling Director at Coca Cola.
On the 8th and 9th of September I attended the EPDE conference in London and presented a paper on strategic questions for design education for sustainability. The buzzwords that came up quite often during the conference were; change, empathy, cross-disciplinarity and transnational collaborations.
‘We are in a world of rapid change’ was the opening statement of the keynote by David Hughes and he argued that in this world, design helps customers in getting their jobs done by being functional and emotional. Design and innovation can be seen as strategies to change the techno-system. But to my understanding of Peter Childs’s keynote, if creativity and empathy feed into design, we can innovate the socio-cultural system. Peter Childs presented his own figure, but this is what I doodled. Would you agree with this model explaining two meanings of the outcomes of design and how empathy and creativity are key in changing the socio-cultural system?
I chaired a workshop on sustainability for the British Council today in London. The audience was 23 Creative Entrepreneurs from 19 different countries (Ghana, Nigeria, India, Latvia, Poland, Taiwan, Turkey etc.). These entrepreneurs were from various disciplines e.g. fashion, product, architecture and advertising.
I was lucky to have three good speakers Guy Robinson from Sprout, Tamsin Lejeune from the Ethical Fashion Forum and Chris Sherwin from Dragon Rouge (formerly Forum for the Future).
It was inspiring to be in a group of driven creative people running their own labels, businesses and trying to learn and improve how they do it. There were too many inspirational conversations to reflect on them all straight away but some of my take home points were’
- The commercial context is changing
- Big business is accelerating that change
- The cultural context is changing and the creative hubs of the future are not in Europe or the US
- Context is everything
- Creating connections is essential
- There is a need to balance commercial with self-directed sustainability projects
- Sustainability is a journey
Let’s see what comes next.Tweet Read More
“In the great creative periods of science the artists and the scientists worked very closely together and were in many cases the same people (e.g. Leonardo da Vinci). The result of this separation [i.e. science and art] has been the most incredible mutual ignorance.“ – J.D. Bernal
I have been working the last while on a small research project for the UK Higher Education Academy and Heather Luna looking at interdisciplinarity and design education for sustainability (in collaboration with Jane Davison from Newport school of Art and Design). Interdisciplinarity is a collaborative process that attempts to go beyond the traditional boundaries of disciplines in order to come up with solutions to complex and socially-relevant challenges.
The reason why i started this project was I always assumed that sustainability presents us with complex challenges and numerous ‘wicked problems’ and our current ways of thinking, doing and learning are not working very well. I also assumed that creating collaborations between different disciplines (e.g. design, business, social science, anthropologists, activists etc.) would lead to better solutions.
I also wanted to know how design education can remain relevant in a rapidly changing and dynamic world that is presenting us with complex challenges to which few appear to have solutions (or at least the ability to implement the solutions at an appropriate scale). In that question there is another assumption i.e. that we need to shift from teaching about sustainability, to teaching for sustainability which through a, yet to be defined, process of transformation will lead us to sustainable education.
On reflection, it all sounds very naive….Tweet Read More
I attended the 5th Nordes Design Research conference last week at Aalto university in Helsinki . The theme for this years conference was “Making Design Matter!”. This was a very interesting conference and provided me with some insight into the quality and direction of design research across Nordic countries.
I gave a presentation titled “Integrating sustainability in a regional design sector” based on a short exploratory paper I wrote a number of months ago. The paper provided some analysis and insight on experiences of setting up E:DN. The audience for the paper was predominantly policy makers and was informed by my wider PhD research.Tweet Read More
Following my talk on ‘Joined up thinking and ecodesign requires empathy’ (at the ‘joined up thinking‘ event, organized by the Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM) and Cylch, the Wales Community Recycling Network) I also ran a workshop titled ‘Ecodesign: Where do you start?’
11 participants attended the workshop, which was spread over two slots. I had hoped for more but may have scared them off with my impassioned plea for greater understanding between people, and people and planet! The premise of the earlier talk was there is a disconnect between people and people and planet and we need more societal empathy. The slides will be here eventually.
The workshop was to get participants thinking of how they could get involved in the ecodesign agenda. They were made up of representatives from community/social enterprises, environmental consultants, industry associations, recyclers and academics. We had 25 minutes per session which meant some serious time constraints keeping in mind our recent lunch-time experience with Lawrence Hallett on skills. I had devised the following flexible, evolving format to test out some ideas.Tweet Read More