MANY ROUTES
ONE DESTINATION
THE SUSTAINABLE DESIGN COMPASS

© seymourpowell 2013
BACKGROUND

CHARTING
A COURSE TO
A SUSTAINABLE
WORLD
If sustainability is the destination, then as
designers we need a too...
EXISTING

DIRECTIONAL AXIS:
The two main tensions across
which design operates
KEY QUADRANTS:

EXISTING

CROSS-CUTTING THE...
THE MODEL

OUR COMPASS
The Sustainable Design Compass provides
designers with a strategic tool to re-orientate
themselves ...
INTRODUCTION

SUSTAINABILITY
- THE ULTIMATE
DESIGN BRIEF
We begin by looking at the background and
context to sustainable ...
‘Design is the
fundamental soul of the
human-made creation’,
and great design helped Apple become the
wealthiest company t...
NS
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EXISTING

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KT:
Good design with
sustainability built-in. Our
KT packaging design can
be reused as a cable-tidy
under their desk. Less...
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BEH

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BE...
more likely to embrace design, while shares design of the soon-to-be-launched Tesla
in design-led business outperform the ...
NS

BIMBO:
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Our Bimbo packaging design
eliminates the useless and wasteful
cab...
TEFAL CORDLESS KETTLE:
World firsts: Our cordless kettle for
Tefal changed category rules many
years ago, but it also had ...
NS

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SUSTAINABLE DESIGN GETS UGLY
In a sustainable future, one thing design
will continue to do is beautify the everyday
and ma...
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One of our own philosophies is that
innovation is best delivered if you ‘step into
the future and drag the present towards...
CONCLUSION

DESTINATION
SUSTAINABILITY
Use our compass, explore its routes,
be a pioneer.

Our Sustainable Design Compass ...
REFERENCES

WHERE TO FIND
MORE DETAILS
http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/Documents/Documents/
Publications/Research/DesignIn...
Printed by Calverts, who are
certified to ISO 14001 by a
UKAS-accredited certification
body on 100% recycled and
fully FSC...
© seymourpowell 2013
Many Routes, One Destination - The Sustainable Design Compass
Many Routes, One Destination - The Sustainable Design Compass
Many Routes, One Destination - The Sustainable Design Compass
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Many Routes, One Destination - The Sustainable Design Compass

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If sustainability is the destination, then as designers we need a tool to help get us there.

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Many Routes, One Destination - The Sustainable Design Compass

  1. 1. MANY ROUTES ONE DESTINATION THE SUSTAINABLE DESIGN COMPASS © seymourpowell 2013
  2. 2. BACKGROUND CHARTING A COURSE TO A SUSTAINABLE WORLD If sustainability is the destination, then as designers we need a tool to help get us there. This publication, and the work within it, was sparked by two parallel events. The first of these were discussions with my Seymourpowell design colleagues who asked, ‘Chris, this sustainability stuff seems like everything and nothing; how do I know what to focus on, and how would I know when I’m doing it right or not? We need a clear path or sustainability roadmap,’ they said. That really got me thinking: what would a complete roadmap for the future of sustainable design look like? Serendipitously, Seymourpowell started talking to the Guardian Sustainable Business team about publishing something on their excellent blog. They invited us to write a series of articles that unpack the issues around sustainability and design. The following pages feature the seven, separately published articles on the Guardian’s blog between September 2012 and February 2013, synthesised into an integrated whole. But what do the articles cover? EXPLORING DESIGN FOR SUSTAINABILITY The need for business and society to move to a more sustainable future is increasingly clear and accepted; the role of design within this transition is not. The articles explore the various ways designers can contribute to, and help build a sustainable future. The series was partly inspired by my frustration that the design community has been slow to the sustainability table, taking time to realise the huge responsibilities and opportunities available. But I’m also optimistic that, with a bit of help and direction, designers will be inspired and do the right thing. FROM ROADMAP TO COMPASS Rather than looking at a specific challenge, like integrating lifecycle assessment into design, or a specific method, like cradleto-cradle, I was eager for the article series to explore and celebrate the many faces of sustainable design. That’s where the idea of a roadmap with various routes came in. Between then and now I became strangely uncomfortable with the ‘roadmap’ metaphor used in the Guardian series. It felt too mechanistic, unidirectional, just too connected to the car industry! So I’ve reinvented our model as a Compass – helping the design community find a better, more sustainable pathway. USING THIS REPORT Over the following pages, the Sustainable Design Compass will map out a sustainability route that works for you, your context, your strengths and skills. It presents a series of discreet pathways designers can follow on sustainability. These can work for individual designers and the wider design community too. So pick up the compass and let’s get started, as we chart a course to sustainability. CHRIS SHERWIN Head of Sustainability, Seymourpowell This booklet is based on a series of articles originally published by the Guardian Sustainable Business blog.
  3. 3. EXISTING DIRECTIONAL AXIS: The two main tensions across which design operates KEY QUADRANTS: EXISTING CROSS-CUTTING THEMES: The way design processes must change across all quadrants VI N A B O U LE R D VI ES NE SI IG O N & W NS M M ET O HO DE DS LS CLE AN D E A BI SIG LIT Y N L IA TION A INN SOC OV H EC T IN TA S U S A LL IN TECHNOLOGY Differing routes or pathways for sustainable design AI T S U S EHA B
  4. 4. THE MODEL OUR COMPASS The Sustainable Design Compass provides designers with a strategic tool to re-orientate themselves from our current wasteful, unjust, unsustainable developmental path; towards a fairer, more meaningful world that operates within the limits of the planet. Think of it as a mid-course correction for design. THE COMPASS IN SUMMARY The Compass shows how the sustainability movement can get more out of design, plus the main areas and ways that design needs to step up on sustainability. The pages that follow unpack the Compass, covering each sustainable design ‘route’ in more detail. But first we will introduce the Compass itself and explain how it works: The Sustainable Design Compass consists of North/South (X) and East/West (Y) axes, each representing the two main tensions across which design operates: TECHNOLOGY VS. SOCIETAL DRIVERS: in which design is led more by new technology or by user needs and behaviours. EXISTING VS. NEW STUFF: in which designers make small changes or big, breakthrough leaps through their projects. The resulting four quadrants present different routes or pathways in which design can build a sustainable future, which are: 1. SUSTAINABILITY IN ALL DESIGN: in which sustainability is integrated as a factor in all projects and briefs, simply becoming part of what constitutes good design. 2. CLEANTECH BY DESIGN: in which design is used to help humanise and commercialise new green and clean technologies, so that they succeed. 3. DESIGN FOR SUSTAINABLE BEHAVIOURS: where designers make sustainable behaviours and actions easier and more desirable for people. 4. SOCIAL INNOVATION: where design is driven by the ‘real’ needs of people and the planet. Two further themes cut-across our four quadrants, covering the ways in which the design process needs to change. These can work with each thematic quadrant or as a stand-alone, and are: 5. NEW DESIGN MODELS: in which design embraces the new skills and working practices required for sustainability. 6. CREATING DESIGN VISIONS: where designers create inspiring and imaginative future visions of how the world can be better through sustainability. So six distinctive, but different sustainable design routes, mapped out in the following pages. Before using our Compass to identify the best route for you, let’s orientate ourselves a little, by looking at where we’ve come from and how we got here. The next section begins by asking why ‘design’ for sustainability?
  5. 5. INTRODUCTION SUSTAINABILITY - THE ULTIMATE DESIGN BRIEF We begin by looking at the background and context to sustainable design, arguing that design will be key to the next wave of sustainability. ‘There are professions more harmful than design’, wrote the godfather of sustainable design, Victor Papanek in 1972, ‘but only a few’. He accused designers of creating useless, unnecessary and unsafe products; of wastefully propagating product obsolescence; of creating ‘stufflust’ to promote materialistic lifestyles. Glimpse at the pages of most mainstream design mag’s or websites today, one wonders how much has really changed. Are the objects of desire emerging from these pages destined to bulge our landfills or secure our future? DESIGN MATTERS The material world with which we surround ourselves - the signs that direct you, the smartphone pages you flick, the way you use buildings, how you move around cities – is consciously or unconsciously designed. Sometimes well, but frequently not. There are sustainability implications to this too. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) estimates that 75% of UK consumers’ carbon emissions come from the products and services they use. We also know that 80% of the environmental impacts of those products and services are determined at the early design stages. These two figures tell us that sustainability is chiefly about ‘stuff’ - about the purchase and use of goods and services as part of consumerist lifestyles, and that the impacts of those products or services are pretty much ‘designed-in’ (or ‘out’ for that matter) from the very outset – making them predominantly questions of design. So design really does matter, not only in how we shape and order our world, but also in determining the main sustainability impacts on our lives. That’s even truer for industrial and product designers as they design those products and services we use and consume. We’ve made some serious headway on sustainability reporting and monitoring, governance, production, supply chains, communications, but paid much less attention (and budget) to how we design more sustainable products, services and systems. One probable reason for this is, beyond a few notable individuals, a lack of leading voices on sustainable design as part of the broader debate. Though design may be guilty of past malpractice (who wasn’t?), there’s a growing sense that in the next wave of sustainability, focussed on creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation and practical solutions, design skills will feature heavily in our toolkit. Californian design professor, and Papanek progeny, Nathan Shedroff captures this well in saying, ‘Design is the problem as well as the solution’. If environmentalism’s success was in spotlighting sustainability problems to the world, the success of design will be in helping deliver solutions. WHY ‘DESIGN’ FOR SUSTAINABILITY It may be fair to ask how much designers have earned the right to play in the sustainability space if they lack sustainability leadership. Yet there are positive signs of change: from the take-up of design methods like Cradle-to-Cradle and biomimicry, through to industry ‘design’ collaborations like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. From the many thousands of designers voluntarily signing the Designers Accord sustainability principles, to celebrity designers like Philippe Starck, Wayne Hemingway and Yves Behar pinning their colours to the sustainability mast. Why, you may also ask, should you turn to a designer, rather than a supply chain, factory manager, comms/ad agency or technologist? Great design makes the heart beat faster, solves tricky problems creatively, makes weird, new stuff seem normal, makes things cool, can make lives better, and make businesses richer. Steve Jobs understood this intuitively in stating,
  6. 6. ‘Design is the fundamental soul of the human-made creation’, and great design helped Apple become the wealthiest company there is to date. We now need to take design way beyond what Apple has done with it and turn its skills wholeheartedly and single-mindedly to the challenges of sustainability. We need people saying ‘ooh’, ‘wow’, ‘ah ha’, and ‘oh yeah’ to really great sustainable design. Reading Papanek’s Design for the Real World as a young design student convinced me that sustainable design was the only route for me, and I’ve worked in the field ever since. I’m hoping our Compass and booklet triggers two critical things amongst the sustainability and design communities: Firstly, that clients and the sustainability movement will turn more to designers on sustainability problems and their solutions. Secondly, that the design community can move beyond the image of being stylists and fashionistas, to step up and see sustainability as the ultimate design brief it really is. So that’s where we’ve come from and where we now are on sustainability and design, but where should we be going? The next sections unpick the various different routes for sustainable designers.
  7. 7. NS S SI R OU DE A SI G BEH N EXISTING EXISTING DE L VI BEH VI IG N M O R OU ES VI A S M O R OU D VI BEH DE L VI S SI O O CLE AN NS CLE AN NS O M O R OU DE L VI S SI O SI DE L M O VI IG N SO C D ES CH TE GOO D D A SO C L IA VI CH TE GOO BEH N D D SI G GOO GOO DE SO C L IA NS CH TE L IA CLE AN SO C L IA CLE AN CH TE A EXISTING HOZELOCK GROWBAG: This Growbag concept for Hozelock makes watering your plants easier, increases crop yield by 50% and reduces water use. A real win-win-win. NS O A EXISTING The brief provides the rules to work to and then check your designs against at the end, while the designer’s job is to balance these technical, commercial, brand and customer parameters. You can exceed the brief, but certainly never under deliver. So if this is the all-powerful blueprint for successful design, why not embed sustainability in it to ensure it happens systematically? Here lies the first challenge of our compass for sustainable design - getting sustainability into the design process, so TE M O CH DE L S SI R OU VI BEH IG N EXISTING GOO D R OU VI VI S DE L O ES Next we map a series of sustainable design routes for you. The first of these promotes the integration of sustainability into each and every design project. Here’s how the majority of design projects work. A client writes a brief, clearly laying out a set of requirements for the project they are commissioning. This brief can contain: customer needs and profile, technical specifications, price and cost boundaries and manufacturing recommendations, in other words all the essential ingredients of a successful design. BEH A NS SI D M R OU VI A VI S BEH SO C O CLE AN NS DE L M N D SI G GOO DE D I TA S U S EHA B O VI SI O CLE AN CH TE C S OO V IN N VI N A B O U LE R CLE AN L IA D VI ES N SI IG O N & EW NS M M ET O HO DE DS LS SO C N SIG DE CH TE GOO D E A BI SIG LIT Y N L IA TION A INN SOC OV CH TE L IA EMBEDDING SUSTAINABILITY IN ALL DESIGN IN TA S U S A LL IN TECHNOLOGY ROUTE 1 I AT A L IO N CLE AN EXISTING it is part of the normal way we design, whether through briefing or some other mechanism. The good news is that, in our experiences, sustainability is coming through now in client briefs. The bad news? It’s not in all briefs and as of yet is not a default consideration in design. Just 14% of designers say that green issues were an important factor in them winning or delivering work for clients.1 SUSTAINABILITY IS JUST GOOD DESIGN ‘Good design is sustainable design’ announced the UK Design Council’s strategic plan in 2008, but I believe we must go one step further, not only making sustainability part of good design, but of all design. Mike Barry from M&S echoes this in targeting sustainability in ‘every product’ the retailer sells. In the Introduction, I explained how designers’ shape the next generation of products and services so critical to the sustainability of the UK economy. Factoring social and environmental considerations into the design of future
  8. 8. KT: Good design with sustainability built-in. Our KT packaging design can be reused as a cable-tidy under their desk. Less waste, more useful. products can ensure we hit our longterm targets for carbon emissions, resource efficiency, waste reduction, and reduced toxicity. Historically, we’ve targeted specific ‘sustainable’ products within a portfolio (an eco-range), or high impact products (the areas of DEFRA’s Product Roadmaps)2. This only spotlights contradiction in a company’s portfolio (why design sustainable products next to their ‘unsustainable’ counterparts?) or risks impacts reduced in one product category being cancelled out by spiralling impacts in another. The goal must be sustainability in 100% of design. you are in briefing (issues, targets), the better the results will be, and clients need to get much better at this. Many advocate lifecycle assessment (LCA) or other product footprinting as an essential or mandatory part of design3, which companies such as Levis, Danone or Kraft reportedly do. While in principle this may be effective, a broader set of sustainable design tools may be needed. Given that the dynamics of power rest Case studies help explain this. One such with clients, industry programs and design example would be our very own KT (Korea IN DESIGN PROCESSES: standards can help, such as WRAP’s Individual products or projects are usually Telecom) packaging design, primarily excellent Product Sustainability Forum5, designed for the user benefit of reusing the part of a strategic portfolio, which is looking to unify the way we design carefully managed and can be another packaging as an electrical product ‘cableproducts across different industries. tidy’, which also has environmental benefits point of influence. Companies such as 4 DSM , which aims for 80% of its pipeline of packaging and material reuse. Another NEXT GENERATION DESIGN from sustainable product by 2015, IKEA, is Replenish, the household-cleaning refill All this may sound like good housekeeping, with its goal of 90% of eco-improved which saves you money and reduces the rather than the imaginative, creative, products by 2015, and M&S with all inconvenience of running out, as well as inspirational processes normally associated products to have a Plan A quality by 2020, with design. But if it’s not glamorous, it can being greener. are building sustainability systematically certainly be effective. In future, it is my view SUSTAINABILITY IN 100% OF DESIGN into design. If targets are set to move the that doing design without sustainability If sustainability in all design is the goal, portfolio towards sustainability, the projects being, at the very least, a consideration in then the client-designer relationship will and products will follow. the brief or process, will be as inexcusable be crucial to delivering this. Here are three as designing dangerous or unsafe products THROUGH DESIGN PERSUASION OR ways to make sustainability a default in is today. STEALTH: design: Avoiding sustainable design considerations Designers cannot control briefs or what IN DESIGN BRIEFS: clients do, but they can influence. That kind now can also mean building-in future environmental or social risks for the very Getting the briefing process right is an of creative disruption is often why clients clients that designers are serving, or even obvious first step. We’ve seen sustainability turn to designers – because they think written into briefs in such unspecific ways differently, stretching the client and the brief for the next generation of users. That really would be ‘off-brief’ and the exact opposite as to be of little use. This risks it being side- beyond what they see today. Why not on of the added value service that clients have lined or dropped off the priority list, which sustainability – either through persuasion come to expect from good design. I’ve also seen happen. The more specific or stealth?
  9. 9. R OU DE A SI G VI BEH S SI O IG N M O R OU ES VI D DE L VI S SI M O R VI OU M O DE L VI S A D BEH SO C NS CLE AN NS O O SI DE L VI CH TE GOO IG N D D ES GOO GOO D SO C L IA NS CH TE L IA CLE AN SO C L IA CLE AN CH TE BEH N EXISTING A EXISTING ROUTE 2 NS O IG N EXISTING A few years back, green start-up Intelligent Energy (IE), the proud owners and developers of a world-class hydrogen fuel cell, faced a real challenge. The world was proving slow to grasp the potential of their technology, so they turned to an unusual source for help. Instead of asking an adman or management consultant, ‘What’s the best way to sell our cell?’ IE turned to Seymourpowell for an answer. Over the following years, IE worked with us to produce a compelling product application for their clean technology that would engage mass customers and business partners. The resulting ENV bike6 was the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered motorcycle - sleek, elegant and emitting nothing but pure water vapour. More importantly, this helped IE licence the technology to Suzuki, then later to other customers, with fuel-cell scooters due on the market imminently7. A TE M O DE L S SI R BEH VI S DE L O ES OU D VI A M R OU VI BEH CH BEH A NS VI S SI O SI O M N D D SI G GOO GOO This route makes the case for using design to help clean and green technologies succeed. DE GOO D R OU VI C S OO V IN N DE L VI SO C O NS CH TE L IA CLE AN SO C L IA CLE AN CH TE N SIG DE CLEANTECH BY DESIGN I AT A L IO N CLE AN EXISTING make a new clean technology attractive to funders and investors, as well as for users and consumers: the two main audiences we need to win over in future. HUMANISING CLEAN TECHNOLOGY The International Council of Societies for Industrial Design (ICSID) describe design as the ‘innovative humanisation of technologies’8, suggesting an important role in making new technology understandable and usable. Cleantech itself has a reputation of being ‘techie’ and impenetrable, with green guru John Elkington commenting, ‘One of the missing links in this area, is the connection to consumers’9. This growth-threatening gap in the cleantech story, around humanising the technology, is what design can help fill. This is about more than just consumers; it’s about connecting cleantech to people, which investors and B2B customers are too. This case highlights the second key Operating as a bridge between technology way design can help build a sustainable and people, between production and future – by helping cleantech succeed consumption, designers are especially good and scale-up. Great design helped IE at turning basic kit into winning products turn a raw technology into a useful and and meaningful solutions. They may not understandable product concept. It created invent the technology, but designers can something really new, imaginative and make sense of it and make it mainstream. exciting that catches the eye. It helped The most everyday of clean technologies, the Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL), illustrates this well. Consumers rejected these energy efficient alternatives, not just due to additional expense, but also because the new curly-bulb shape stuck out of their lamps. CFL design today largely mirrors the incandescent bulbs they aim to replace. OBJECTS OF DESIRE FOR CLEANTECH INVESTMENT One wonders how much design could help high-potential companies in the Guardian’s own Cleantech 10010. All these inspiring, early-stage tech companies are jostling for position in the race for scarce funding and resources. They will need to compete within and across sectors. One cleantech investor once told me, ‘If you are an investor you see maybe 200-300 companies a year and invest in only three or four. It is about getting across immediately why them, why the technology, why the management team.’ Being incredibly clear on the commercial proposition at those early stages is life critical. Yes, that’s the business plan, great management team, a proven technology, but great design could give a cleantech company the edge. The economic case for design in business is well proven11 as high growth start-ups are
  10. 10. more likely to embrace design, while shares design of the soon-to-be-launched Tesla in design-led business outperform the FTSE Model S electric-powered family sedan13. 100 by 200% over the last few years. Even renewable micro-generation can benefit from great design. How much GREEN TECHNOLOGY, of Quiet Revolution’s14 success is down GREAT DESIGN to the effectiveness of their turbines in When cleantech by design works properly, comparison to their great design and the results can be amazing. One current branding? While Solar Century’s C21 favourite, spotlighted in the Cleantech integrated solar tile design15 means you 100 is NEST, the learning thermostat12. avoid lengthy planning applications for It’s smart, beautiful and cool to use. You roof installation. program it to meet your daily energy needs, then it learns and adapts to your behaviour, DESIGNING FOR even switching off when you’re away. CLEANTECH SUCCESS I’m not saying design is a substitute for other The Automotive sector uses design ingredients essential for scaling up cleantech: well to mainstream its clean and green such as the right financing structures, an technologies. The success of the injection of investment, favourable policy breakthrough second generation Toyota signals, or better green public procurement. Prius was attributed as much to design, But design can help cleantech in the same which simply made the hybrid vehicle ways it did with the digital technology ‘normal’, as to any technological factor. revolution at the turn of the millennium. Tesla gets this intuitively too, via the sleek Don’t forget that an iPod is little more than a wearable hard-drive with great branding, product design and user interface. From a broader view, cleantech is perhaps the most exciting tech revolution of the 21st Century and our future survival, economically and environmentally, may rest heavily on these new green and clean technologies. That is exactly the sort of challenge and opportunity the design community should get behind. At the moment though, I don’t see the cleantech sector turning to designers en masse; or see the design industry getting behind cleantech in anything like the way they should, which is a missed opportunity both ways.
  11. 11. NS BIMBO: OU M O R DE L S SI O CLE AN VI SI G Our Bimbo packaging design eliminates the useless and wasteful cable-tie, allowing consumers to knot the packaging itself, keeping bread fresher for longer. VI D DE BEH N A EXISTING ROUTE 3 SUSTAINABLE BEHAVIOUR BY DESIGN GOO D TE CH O M C S OO V IN N DE L S SI O NS R OU VI VI Bread is among the top wasted product in many European markets, so this simple act can save money and the environment too. N SIG DE BEH A R SO C L IA GOO R CH TE I AT A L IO N CLE AN This route makes the case for using design as part of our sustainable behaviour toolkit. EXISTING If you’re reading this over morning coffee or afternoon tea, chances are you’ll have put the kettle on. Putting aside the sustainability impacts of coffee, tea, milk or sugar sourcing, or the social value, conviviality and cultural importance of these rituals, which any eco-literate audience will likely know; the humble kettle itself encapsulates many of the central sustainability challenges around behaviour change and consumer engagement. In this route, we will use the kettle to unpack the third important area for sustainability and design: creating sustainable behaviour. ‘COOL’ KETTLES The seemingly trivial kettle has been estimated to account for 4% of UK household carbon emissions.16 Simple changes to its design could have a potentially huge effect. The largest impact from kettles is the energy consumed when boiling water (95%). This is made worse by inefficient behaviour like over-filling and furring of the element by hard water. On top of that, people actually boil their kettle on average 2.4 times for a single cup, switching on then getting distracted by Eastenders/footie/phone call. They then re-boil as they think the water is not hot enough. Amazingly, studies show that the single biggest innovation to tackle usage and behaviour inadequacies would be the good-old whistle. Removing whistles in the move from gas hob-top to electric countertop kettles instantly eliminated the audible prompt that it was time for tea. The main variables to influence a kettle’s impacts are therefore behavioural, not technical. MOVING BEYOND THE MESSAGE Most of the written word on sustainable behaviour, seen extensively on the pages of major media platforms, is characterised by what I call a communications-driven approach. This uses education, awarenessraising, campaigns - essentially messaging - to change minds, capture hearts and shift behaviour, via tools like advertising, PR and social media. So how about a ‘turn off the switch’ campaign for our case above? I’m not entirely convinced we can communicate our way out of trouble in this way. This approach relies heavily on getting the message right, for which I have two concerns. First, this can be tricky given that messages will compete with the estimated 3000+ ‘buy-more, use-me, new-andimproved, limited edition’ mainstream marketing messages North Americans are said to receive daily.17 Secondly, many mainstream consumer segments are simply too busy to succumb to even sophisticated sustainability messages, and there are already calls to move beyond clever slogans.18 Green guru Jonathon Porritt concurs, saying, ‘I seriously doubt consumer’s ability to choose
  12. 12. TEFAL CORDLESS KETTLE: World firsts: Our cordless kettle for Tefal changed category rules many years ago, but it also had safer consumer behaviour designed-in. Kettle-related accidents went down 50% in the UK in the years following its launch. That means 4000 less burned children every year. their way out of trouble. They will need some help!’ I’m convinced we can really ‘help’ consumer’s by using design more for sustainable behaviours, building behaviour change into the solutions themselves. Like their marketing and communications cousins, designers are particularly skilled at influencing behaviour, not in a sinister ‘social engineering’ sense, but usually for better experiences or for the commercial goals of selling more. We must now turn all those powers of design persuasion to sustainable behaviours. RETURNING TO OUR KETTLE Back to kettles - these and many other product impacts can be changed, reduced or even eliminated by smart design. The common problem of over-filling for a single cup, can and is being tackled through waterlevel indicators or windows.19 Integrated filters can purify water when filling, to avoid element furring. Re-boiling is being tackled by adding a temperature gauge light (water only needs to be 90°, not 100° for tea or coffee) to indicate it is still hot enough to use20. There is a growing and positive trend for adding whistles in modern kettle design,21 hopefully for both style AND sustainability reasons. So you could ask people to switch off, but a far better option is to build-in the behaviour change and consumers will do it naturally. DESIGNING MORE SUSTAINABLE BEHAVIOUR Look around and there is almost no limit or scale to which sustainable behaviour by design can be applied. From battery ‘powercheck’ testing strips22 to indicate the charge, which extend battery life by up to 40% and avoid their unnecessary - and potentially toxic - disposal; to the pavement-less street design around South Kensington’s museums, that counter- intuitively slows traffic and increases pedestrian safety.23 From the infamous flytattooed urinals24 in Schipol Airport that ‘nudge’ male users to reduce spillage by 80%; to Roca’s intelligent plug design25 which feeds back the litres of water draining out of your sink. Here design provides people with solutions or behaviours that are simply better, not just greener. In case you’re thinking, ‘oh that’s just product design’, I’ve already argued why design and products really matter as part of UK consumer’s carbon emissions and we ignore them at our peril. Adding behaviour change by design to our toolkit would therefore make sustainable behaviour not just easier and more automatic, but ultimately more exciting and aspirational for consumers too.
  13. 13. NS CLE AN NS A SI G S R OU VI BEH M O R OU DE VI IG N DE L VI S SI O O SI VI DE L M O ES D D D SO C L IA CLE AN CH TE GOO BEH N A EXISTING ROUTE 4 SOCIAL INNOVATION BY DESIGN GOO D NS R OU VI O O NS BEH A SO C N SIG DE CH TE L IA CLE AN A TE I AT A L IO N EXISTING What does a football; clothing for female medical patients; and a condom pack have in common? They are all shortlisted for the 2013 Index Awards26 for ‘Design to Improve Life’. Secondly, they all provide great examples for our next route on sustainability and design: how designers are creating real, practical solutions to some of the world’s many social and environmental challenges – through social innovation by design. The bi-annual Index Awards are one of my favourite sustainability initiatives, and also I believe one of the most important. Aiming ‘to use design skills to develop sustainable solutions to global and local challenges’, it features a collection of some of the most inspiring examples of social innovation you will find in one place. For example, the One World Futbol27 project is promoting a new ball design, which never needs inflating, will rarely puncture, is guaranteed child labour-free in its manufacture, and is sold using a ‘buyone, give-one-to-developing countries’ model to send equipment to places where a football can create hope and build communities. CH DE L O M R OU BEH S SI VI S O IG N VI D ES C S OO V IN N GOO D DE L VI SI This route makes the case for design for social impact and needs. M UR SO C L IA GOO UR CH TE CLE AN EXISTING There are many more examples, but it’s also important to note that Index is the single biggest design prize anywhere in the industry (€500k in prizes awarded) – showing a growing recognition and investment in social innovation. SOCIAL INNOVATION MEETS DESIGN Put simply, social innovations are ideas that work for the public good30. It will not be a new term to a sustainability literate audience, but designer’s involvement in it might be. Rather than design focussing solely on heating up the economy so it grows, drives consumption and stimulates sales; this is design and innovation focussed on society’s most important challenges and problems: climate change, access to clean water, better sanitation, pollution, poverty or malnutrition, female empowerment, crime and so on. gravitate toward the social, rather than environmental problems of sustainability, as it’s a natural fit for their skills requiring no retraining. BRINGING SOCIAL INNOVATION TO LIFE Great examples of social innovation are abounding. The Watercone project allows the poor to simply purify drinking water in a day. The design of unbreakable glassware31 for UK pubs helps reduce alcohol related accidents and injuries and design-out crime. The inspirational One Laptop Per Child project32 would not be what it is today without the design consultancy fuseproject’s work on the product itself. Moving from product to the organisational levels of design, IDEO now have a not-forprofit arm33 to work directly and systematically with NGO’s, social enterprises and foundations to apply design directly to social problems. While Frog Design recently launched a free Whether for- or non-profit, it’s a different design toolkit for social innovation34, for role for design in not being solely driven by charities or social entrepreneurs to learn commercial needs, but by social impact, and for themselves, then apply in situ. You can in genuinely creating a better world for people even get a Masters in ‘Design for Social or the planet. Same process: different goal. Innovation’35. WHY ‘DESIGN’ FOR SOCIAL IMPACT? I don’t believe designers have a monopoly over social innovation and don’t need to be involved for its success. But designers do have an important skill-set to apply to social innovation – namely an empathic approach to their solutions. Unlike their engineering cousins working extensively The one-handed condom wrapper design28 from technology or science, designers start provides contraception without those from people. Historically termed empathic, awkward, embarrassing and doubt-creating user, human, or people-centred design, it’s moments of fumbling – to promote dignity, been interesting to hear recent calls for an empowerment and build confidence. overhaul of terminology within the design The blouse design29 replaces standard industry, from ‘human-centred design’ to issue hospital robes to provide better ‘humanity-centred design’, which does wearability, access, comfort and rather hit the spot. self-worth for breast cancer patients This methodological orientation explains throughout radiology treatment, in their why, in my opinion, designers tend to time of greatest need. Social innovators themselves do seem to be seeing the value of design, as I recently spotted ‘redesign’ described among the ‘10 Steps to Transform Capitalism for the Better’36 by two leading commentators. This all goes to show the design world is waking up to its social responsibilities too. Many years ago, the godfather of sustainable design, Victor Papanek called for designers to donate 10% of their time to exactly these sort of ‘projects for the greater good’, and while I don’t think we’re quite there yet, there are promising signs of a new and exciting approach to world-changing design. Photograph of One World Futbol in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. Credit: Nicholas Hammond
  14. 14. NS O S SI A DE L VI BEH TE M O R OU VI IG N I AT A L IO N EXISTING CH BEH A NS S SI DE L VI M O ES C S OO V IN N D D GOO D R OU VI O CLE AN L IA GOO R SO C N SIG DE CH TE CLE AN EXISTING ROUTE 5 SUSTAINABLE DESIGN 2.0 New models and methods are needed to ensure design is fit-for-the-purpose of delivering a sustainable future. Working in the field of sustainable design, I’m periodically asked, sometimes challenged, on what a truly sustainable product looks like. I thought I’d share the way I tackle this as a way to unpack the issues. One example I use is the work of designer Chris Cattle, who ‘grows furniture’. His amazing designs consist of three timber saplings that are planted, grown and trained around a reusable plywood template to produce, in time, a rigid structure for pieces of furniture like tables and stools. Grafting the saplings together when thick enough creates their joints, and then after two years the structure can be cut and used with minimal finishing other than additions like a seat or table top, as with the example opposite. The only energy used to make the structures is that directly from the sun. In addition, the furniture is almost completely renewable and biodegradable, as well as being durable and long lasting. It creates little or none of the pollution created in ‘normal’ furniture making such as VOC’s from glue or foam, or the toxic effluents from fabric dying. If sourced from a well-managed forest, it can be grown carbon neutrally, enhancing biodiversity and supporting the skills and development of local economies. Imagine planting and growing ‘furniture forests’ of components or even complete structures. It’s hard to think of a more sustainable way to produce furniture. Whether you like the product or not, you’ll have to admit that it’s really different. In furniture production terms, it substitutes ‘cutting and hacking’ timber through oldfashioned and wasteful industrial processes, for ‘gently persuading it’. It’s more topiary, gardening or horticulture than 20th century manufacturing or industrial design. It perfectly illustrates the next point in our sustainable design series, how designers need to adopt different methods and models of design, to adapt to and deliver a sustainable future. SHIFTING DESIGN PARADIGMS Two of the most prominent of these new design models are Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) and Biomimicry design. Cradle-to-Cradle37 design consists of seeing products as either technical or biological nutrients to be designed back into their appropriate cycle. The Caterpillar’s Reman38 program, which refurbishes used trucks and reuses their components, is C2C design in action. Biomimicry39, the other new model, is where natural processes, honed over 3 billion years of biological evolution are the inspiration for design. If you’re facing a design problem, why not wonder at how nature would do it HISTORY OF DESIGN via examples from the extensive website Our understanding of design today was forged in the early years of the 20th century ‘Ask Nature’?40 Grown furniture probably fits a model called ‘Ecological Design’41 - which works and has always reflected the social and by ‘integrating itself with living processes.’ economic priorities of its time. In the early days, this was a willingness to embrace Much of these new models question currently mass production and emerging forms of perceived design education – particularly in consumer capitalism. Looking back, it’s embracing broader ecological systems. So easy to wonder how much design practice will future sustainability-literate designers has really changed over the years, certainly come from the art and design school model in the way we teach it. derived from those early 20th Century years? Or do examples such as the Biomimicry for The seismic, if slow, shifts towards Creative Innovation group, offering design sustainability are beginning to change this. Business, technological and economic training with Kew Royal Botanical Gardens paradigms are softening, flattening, opening, experts, give a snapshot of a future in which and becoming more circular, as we transition great design education comes from somewhere like a biology department? to the ecological and biological models of sustainability. Little surprise then to see this reflected in new design practice. Different times call for different means.
  15. 15. SUSTAINABLE DESIGN GETS UGLY In a sustainable future, one thing design will continue to do is beautify the everyday and make new things normal, and it is here where our grown furniture example may fall down today. Though beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, even I don’t expect this to win many traditional design awards or float everyone’s boat, just yet. Do remember though that these are first prototypes, which take time to produce, and which need and allow further refinement and development. Also remember that really new things often challenge us in quite fundamental ways, in what’s known as the ‘shock of the new’. Ironically, it’s usually a designers’ job to make the new more palatable, taking new technology and dressing it up in familiar shapes, forms and behaviours. It’s not yet clear if the future lies in redesigning sustainable products in this way, to make them normal, or in redesigning design itself. One thing more certain is that the use, and the need for new models of design like those outlined above will just keep growing. Photograph Credit: Christopher Cattle
  16. 16. NS O IG N EXISTING S SI A DE L VI BEH TE M O R OU VI ES CH BEH A NS DE L VI D M O R OU VI A S SI O S SI DE L VI M O BEH GOO D R OU VI C S OO V IN N N D D SI G GOO GOO DE SO C O CLE AN NS CH TE L IA L IA CLE AN SO C N SIG DE CH TE I AT A L IO N CLE AN EXISTING ROUTE 6 USING DESIGN VISIONS TO ADVANCE SUSTAINABILITY Our final route argues that designers should create more imaginative visions of sustainability that excite rather than depress or scare people. Author Malcolm Gladwell said, ‘The visionary starts with a blank sheet of paper and re-imagines the world’. So imagine this: you could travel internationally, without the hassle and stress of the airport, or the carbon emissions and climate impacts currently associated with flying. Imagine a more serene transport experience for people looking for a more reflective journey, where the experience of travel itself is more important than getting from A to B quickly. final point in our sustainability and design route - how designers can create inspiring visions of the future that help advance sustainability. WHY DESIGN VISIONS? The use of visions will not be new to the sustainability world, but design-driven visions might be. Whilst sustainability theoretically fits neatly with concepts like futurity, legacy or long-term thinking, one problem that Forum for the Future’s Peter Madden notes is that, ‘Our main narrative is fundamentally overwhelmingly negative – apocalyptic, doom and gloom. It’s antigrowth. But it stops us being listened to, and acts as a barrier to the majority of people.43’ We have not painted particularly inspiring pictures of how sustainable living can be better for people. Imagine a world cruise not on the ocean, but in a giant, zeppelin-like hotel in the sky from which you have time to marvel at natural or manmade wonders. Your trip to New York or Dubai would take a couple of days during which you’re enjoying the absolute freedom of flight, with family or friends. Imagine all this being powered, in elevation and direction, only by hydrogen, topped up by solar panels covering the vast ‘Designers don’t just see the world as it is, they see how it could be44’, states structure. Sustainable Design Professor, Cameron Imagine no more as this is the Aircruise Tonkinwise. Talk to a designer and they concept42 Seymourpowell created and don’t focus on what’s wrong or what’s visualised a few years back. You may broken, invariably they’ll want to fix it or even be able to try it soon, as Korean make it better. conglomerate Samsung bought and is investigating the feasibility of our concept. As creatives, designers are ideas people, able to imagine new ways of doing things. This vision is not intended to be a ‘haveCritically they can bring these ideas to life your-consumerist-cake-and-eat-it’ by visualising them in inspiring ways, and scenario, or even a prediction of how things also by presenting ideas and visions from will end up. This is a re-imagining of how the end-user/citizen/consumer backwards things could be - an alternative take on – meaning they are about people not future leisure and travel, in which ‘slow technology. is the new fast’. It perfectly illustrates the VISIONS IN ACTION Look around and you’ll find more than the odd designer working on visions for a sustainable world. The Siemens ‘Future Life’ film45 at The Crystal installation in London in early 2013 caught my eye through its explanation of how tomorrow’s sustainable city dwelling can be healthy, communal, beneficial and fun. Picking fruit and veg from your New York city sky-scraper’s urban vertical farms, or bathing in the outdoor communal pools of Copenhagen’s Harbour look particularly appealing. Some of the best visions of this kind come from Philips Design, via their Design Futures program.46 The company even has a formal methodology for this process titled ‘Design Probes’, which looks at farfuture lifestyle scenarios, which culminate in a design provocation.47 One of my personal favourites is their ‘Home Farming’ concept48 to grow some of your food inside your home. A domestic mini-ecosystem, containing fish, crustaceans, algae and edible plants, all interdependent and in balance with each other, provides your very own in-door vertical farm. THE POINT OF DESIGN VISIONS? Cynics may see this as just whimsy or creative indulgence, yet our original Aircruise concept film has over 650,000 YouTube views to date, and though impact shouldn’t be measured by clicks alone, part of this is clearly about some much needed sustainability inspiration.
  17. 17. One of our own philosophies is that innovation is best delivered if you ‘step into the future and drag the present towards you,’ so we use these kinds of visions in our everyday work. Our refill concept - called Boomerang49 - was created for personal care products like shampoo or bodywash, and has helped us talk to our consumer brand clients about design beyond single use, disposable products. Any resulting designs may not be an exact extrapolation of the vision, but it does show another role for visions in being ‘catalytic’. A while back, Philips Design published some of its former visionary concepts, presented next to similar products they may have catalysed, that had been introduced to the market since. Ironically, many of these were not developed or launched by Philips, so vision projects can be a wider stimulus for innovation too. So the visionary may start with a blank sheet and re-imagine the world, but designers can help with that extra step of making these visions a reality. Our Compass has uncovered many routes for sustainability and design, in which designers must: add sustainability to everything designed, help cleantech to scale up and win, redesign people’s behaviour, even take on some of the worlds big challenges – through design. Yet this final route presents the ultimate role, and challenge, to designers – bringing inspiring visions of sustainability to life.
  18. 18. CONCLUSION DESTINATION SUSTAINABILITY Use our compass, explore its routes, be a pioneer. Our Sustainable Design Compass provides a complete, comprehensive series of route maps for design to re-orientate itself for sustainability. None of the routes are more right or wrong, and I see little value in putting them in a hierarchy. Designing for sustainability can often seem so grand and allencompassing, so large and scary, as to be almost paralysing. The Compass provides a strategic and personal tool to help designers navigate a route for themselves. So all routes have a value, it’s just about what you can achieve from where you are. You may recall this booklet being catalysed by our design team asking how they would know if they are doing sustainable design or not. Well I now reply, ‘If it fits on the Compass, you’re doing sustainable design, if it doesn’t, you’re not.’ BECOME A 21ST CENTURY DESIGN PIONEER Yet the Sustainable Design Compass is both a tool and a call to action. With increasing pressures on the earths resources, the need for new thinking, better ideas, creativity and innovation are greater than ever. In the past, design was instrumental in creating sustainability problems, but tomorrow’s successful designers and innovators will be part of the solution. Far from constraining great design, sustainability offers a fantastic set of levers around which we can rethink and redesign our ways of living and working. The real pioneers get to reinvent the world; what a creative opportunity! This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity too good to pass up. The Sustainable Design Compass is your tool for the practical task of building a better world. It falls to this generation of designers to imagine a world we’d all like to live in for the long-term, and then make those visions a reality. If you would like to discuss how this impacts your business, product and service design, do reach out to us. CONNECT WITH CHRIS AT: chris.sherwin@seymourpowell.com +44(0) 7381 6433 @seymourpowell @sherwinnovator
  19. 19. REFERENCES WHERE TO FIND MORE DETAILS http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/Documents/Documents/ Publications/Research/DesignIndustryResearch2010/ DesignIndustryInsights2010_Design_Council.pdf 1 http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/economy/productsconsumers/ 2 http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/life-cycleassessment-sustainability 3 http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/blog/productsservices-sustainable-business-strategy?INTCMP=SRCH 4 5 http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/product-sustainability-forum 24 http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/u/urinal.htm http://media.designerpages.com/3rings/2011/04/14/rocasintelligent-drain-is-smart-about-water-usage/ 25 26 http://www.designtoimprovelife.dk/ 27 http://www.oneworldfutbol.com/ http://nominateforindexaward.dk/Presentation/read/ id=MTgyNA== 28 29 http://www.jillies.com/ 30 http://socialinnovation.ca/about http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/gallery/ http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/our-work/challenges/Security/ sustainable-product-design-in-pictures?intcmp=239#/?picture=39 Design-out-crime/Alcohol-related-crime/Alcohol-related-crime1/ 6261132&index=2 32 http://one.laptop.org/ 7 http://www.gizmag.com/suzuki-ev-scooter/21380/ 33 https://www.ideo.org/ 8 http://www.icsid.org/about/about/articles31.htm 34 http://www.frogdesign.com/collective-action-toolkit 9 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zeronauts-Breaking-Sustainability35 http://dsi.sva.edu/ Barrier/dp/1849713979 6 31 http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/globalcleantech-100-list-2012 36 10 11 http://www.designfactfinder.co.uk/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/gallery/ sustainable-product-design-in-pictures#/?picture=396261014&in dex=1 12 http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680858/10-steps-to-transformcapitalism-for-the-better 37 http://www.mbdc.com/cradle-to-cradle/c2c-framework/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/gallery/ sustainable-product-design-in-pictures#/?picture=396261012&in dex=8 38 13 http://www.teslamotors.com/models 39 http://biomimicry.net/about/biomimicry/a-biomimicry-primer/ 14 http://www.quietrevolution.com/ 40 http://www.asknature.org/ http://www.amazon.com/Ecological-Design-Sim-Van-Ryn/ http://www.solarcentury.co.uk/solar-homes/residential-products/ dp/1559633891 c21e-solar-tiles-and-slates/ 41 15 http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Live-Low-Carbon-LifeIndividuals/dp/1844074269 16 http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/parents/marketing/ advertising_everywhere.cfm 17 http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/blog/ promoting-sustainable-behaviour-clever?INTCMP=SRCH 18 19 http://www.ecokettle.com/ 20 http://ecodesign.lboro.ac.uk/index.php?section=57 http://www.alessi.co.uk/ashop-uk/home-design/electricalappliances-90150/electric-kettle-945/ 21 http://www.duracell.co.uk/en-GB/promotions/promotionduracell-ultra-power.jspx 22 42 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRX1c_L3zdA http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/Hot_Topics_ Innovation_for_Sustainability_v7.pdf 43 44 http://vimeo.com/29670428 45 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuPIyqUc9oA http://www.design.philips.com/about/design/designportfolio/ design_futures 46 http://www.design.philips.com/about/design/designportfolio/ design_futures/design_probes/index.page 47 http://www.design.philips.com/about/design/designportfolio/ design_futures/food.page 48 http://www.flickr.com/photos/seymourpowell/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/jan/29/exhibition- sets/72157632715468193/ road-rowan-moore-review?INTCMP=SRCH 23 49
  20. 20. Printed by Calverts, who are certified to ISO 14001 by a UKAS-accredited certification body on 100% recycled and fully FSC certified paper.
  21. 21. © seymourpowell 2013

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