– to be part of a bigger coherence
Designboost envisions a holistic approach as a condition for sustainable design. To fulfil this vision we believe in upgrading design competence and boosting competitiveness by knowledge sharing. Our four inter-related platforms: BoostEvent, BoostMedia, BoostResource and BoostConcept can be further explored in our periodical table of design knowledge.
Sustainable Wheel is our most developed concept and at the same time the foundation for our reasoning. This tool is under constant development through combining shared knowledge from relevant disciplines. We believe that it is necessary to have a holistic view on sustainability.
However important, sustainability is not merely about green products and environmental concern. It is also about radically new materials as well as durable attachment, storytelling, sensorial experiences and cultural awareness. Without a holistic approach when designing for sustainability we risk sustaining the un-sustainable.
Designboost has defined seven different themes that separately and in combination are important if we are aiming for the truly sustainable. Comprised within the Sustainable Wheel, they serve both as comprehensive guidelines and form an important check list.
– to affect the environment as little as possible
Which material resources do we use directly or indirectly; does our product consume too much energy when in use? What waste do we produce directly or indirectly; is the recycling of our product costly and/or is reuse complicated demanding transport or substantial deconstruction?
– to develop unique attributes on several levels
Is our product merely innovative or does it contribute to development; an improvement in our lives, and not only a response to a demand for newness? Innovation is about seeing things in different ways, thinking out-of-the-box, thinking for renewal and change, removing blinders, boldly processing new and old information. How can we break innovation barriers and move crucial issues concerning technology and production forward?
– to be a part of the user
Does our product have a chance not only to connect emotionally; create attachment, but also to retain it? Have we considered that emotions are much less sustainable than feelings? Emotions make us buy, whilst feelings make us keep. Has our product a meaning; does it tell a story which goes beyond temporary lifestyles and makes us associate to something we already know and easily recognise the function? Meaning is paramount for affectivity; the moderator of emotions and feelings, and thus for long-term attachment.
– to age with grace
Have we realised that the aesthetic is about immediate but also lasting appeal? Do we confuse aesthetics with beauty? Are we aware that beauty is something negotiated and what is judged as beautiful one day might not be the next? There are things that survive year after year, are inherited by the generations to come and excellent examples of truly durable objects; “they truly age with grace”. What’s the secret?
– to own multi-quality capacities
Do we recognise that quality is a multi capacity? Have we tried to specify our product's capacity beyond the most obvious; material quality and physical functionality? Is quality relative to intended use? Have we recognised quality as lasting meaning and appeal and considered if our product makes sense: is it meaningful or does it appear merely strange: new and cool?
– to be able to tell a credible story
How do we define authenticity? Is it a product which is as close to the original version as possible? Or is an authentic product an object which is true to its meaning and its function? An object without history is fiction and an object which has not moved on from history is retrospective. An authentic product could be seen as a mix of the two. How do we create authentic experiences that have meaning and value and a strong sense of cultural identity?
– to be part of a bigger coherence
What is at stake if we make our product compatible with that of our competitor or neighbour? Is it a long term negative, a short term or not a negative at all? How can we connect history with the present and the future?
And how can we create common platforms (designers, materials, technology etc) with several outcomes and, out of that, get sustainable co-ordination advantages? Isn’t compatibility also about supporting human to human relationships?
In the end, a product is worth nothing if it is not put in a human context. We have to remember always to look through the lens of humanity when we develop or try to define a sustainable product or service, because we always have to extend sustainability beyond the mere material.