â€œâ€¦ the role of the industrial designer is a privileged one in this new â€œgreen economy.â€ Designers are in a very important position to make a difference and create positive change in the way products are designed, manufactured, distributed, and disposed of.â€By: Manuel Saez, Creative Director at MS&P
[Article first published on May 9, 2008 on Fast Company Expert Design Blog]
Recently, I was invited to speak at a conference celebrating â€œEarth Day.â€ My presentation consisted of â€œEveryone Considered,â€ a talk concerning our design process, which considers everyone that comes into contact with a product throughout its life: from the assembly worker to the individual recycling the product. Many consider this design process to be environmentally friendly.
At the event, the host introduced me as a â€œSustainable Industrial Designer.â€ For a moment, I thought this could be perceived as an oxymoron. After allâ€”by definitionâ€”Industrial Designers design products for mass production, which is one of the negative factors in the current environmental crisis.
However, after reflecting on this contradiction, I understand that the role of the industrial designer is a privileged one in this new â€œgreen economy.â€ Designers are in a very important position to make a difference and create positive change in the way products are designed, manufactured, distributed, and disposed of.
The power of design can be used to create value in many forgotten areas. Normally, the design process focuses most of its energy in providing solutions for the end user/consumer (the people that actually use the products). However, there is a great opportunity to create value elsewhere, designing products that not only address the consumers needs, but also are easy to assemble/produce/service/maintain. In addition, these products have a minimal number of components, can be shipped in efficient ways, designed for ease of disassembly, for re-use, or proper disposal.
Value is the key to the new green economyâ€”and design is a powerful tool to create it. Extended value can offset the cost of environmentally friendly materials, processes, and systems used in new mass-produced products creating sustainable products with an honest (â€œhonestâ€ being the keyword) story very relevant to todayâ€™s marketing strategies.
From this point of view, â€œSustainable Industrial Designerâ€ is not an oxymoron.
Manuel Saez, Creative Director Article first published on May 9, 2008 on Fast Company Expert Design Blog