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.
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.
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
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
Last week I gave a presentation to approximately 50 designers, manufacturers and other business people in Latvia via the web. It was part of a workshop run by the British Council but planned and facilitated by Guy and Helena from Sprout design, Jonathan Chapman and myself. It was great to be able to connect and share experiences with people in Latvia from the comfort of my house in Cardiff. The main aim of my presentation was to demystiy some of the complex issues of sustainabity and design while highlighting lessons from some designers and companies in Wales that have already gone on the same journey I expect these companies in Latvia will be going on now.
It was an extra special honour to present to Latvian industry because my Msc thesis addressed the issues of design for sustainability in transition economies with a particular interest in Baltic states. I was fascinated by the shifting cultural context in post communist countries and how this would impact on design and sustainable development. It was great to see these same issues being discussed by companies in Latvia now. In fact, the event was way oversubscribed with more than 100 companies wanting to join.Tweet Read More
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?
Last weekend I went camping at the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire with 300 other interesting people. We were all there for the Uncivilisation festival which despite its name is a cheerful and extremely friendly festival of ideas and doing. What is different about this festival is that, while there is music and ale, people mostly came for the talking, story telling, listening and sharing. The overriding topic of the festival was our collective future and the potential scenarios we face with combined collapses (e.g. global financial crisis, changing middle east, climate change, peak oil etc.). Despite my initial reservations that it would be another rehash of dated deep green thinking (which was partly true) there were lots of interesting and inspiring sessions.
On reflection it was really a conference held outdoors but the vibrant mix of people and setting made for an enjoyable experience. It seemed perfectly comfortable moving from a panel debate on “collapsonomics” with people well versed in economic collapse into a workshop on homebrew held in a yurt. There was a pleasant randomness to the sessions and it was easy to pick and choose what sessions you went to. It was an open space format in the true sense.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