Engaging designers in sustainability

Authored by: Vicky Lofthouse

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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Designers have an immense influence on the modern world but are not currently widely engaged in the sustainability debate. Designers are generally driven by both creativity and innovation, and addressing the sustainability challenge requires both. Every year numerous student designers are engaged with and inspired by the opportunities offered by sustainable design, so on the face of it, engaging designers in sustainable design should be easy. This chapter recognizes that product designers have great potential to positively influence the environmental and social impact of the products, services and systems that they design. Despite this potential, there is currently little evidence of widespread engagement across the design industry. The different ways that designers can engage in sustainable design across a broad spectrum of activities are presented and discussed. Then, challenges which designers face when it comes to addressing sustainability are reviewed and a number of ways to address these challenges are presented. The chapter concludes by proposing ways in which we can move beyond the status quo and begin to address these challenges in order to more effectively utilize the skills that designers can bring to the sustainability debate.

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