A journey of two designers

Authored by: Yorick Benjamin

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Product Design

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138910171
eBook ISBN: 9781315693309
Adobe ISBN:


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Sustainable design (SD) appeals to our need to do good, but twists our design mind into thoughts of uncertainty and delivers a thread of anxiety. To help the designer to decide on these complex relationships, many theories, tools and methods have been proposed over the years that attempt to steer designers and help them realize products and services that have less impact on the biosphere. There are many academic and theoretical models, from the quantitative to the qualitative. They cross one idea with another and often merge and collide into a confused and over complex whole. This chapter explores the journey of two designers (myself, and Jonathan Stedman) with the shared aim of designing and developing a sustainable product for everyday use. The aim is simple, but as everyone knows who has explored these issues the journey is complex. There are many unknowns and hidden layers that trip-up the designer and give challenge to their design decisions and judgements. Every physical element of the product and the system that surrounds its realization, and the services that underpin it, have an impact that needs to be understood and weighted; what is good, what is bad and how do we define either? On this product development journey we draw upon ideas from a variety of models in an eclectic fashion while wholeheartedly taking a pragmatic approach to realizing a real product for everyday use. The product developed is a bus shelter for public transport. The development from a design idea to public use is presented as a narrative to explore one way of working towards a sustainable product. It is a practice based design case study in which we find some good design solutions, and some problems. Intentionally, this chapter does not significantly draw upon other references or publications as it is based on a modest but real sustainable design journey. It is the journey itself that provides the case study, and the final outcome (shelters and systems) the impact.

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