In October I wrote about adding value to the world with your company instead of reducing your impact. (Click here for the article of October) I would like to add to this: set positive goals and start with setting the values. "Don't be a pessimist. The glass is half empty. But don't just be a passive optimist either. The glass is half full. Start with inventory: take scientific stock of your situation. The glass is full of water and air. Then signal your intention for design: I want the glass to be bigger."
Last month’s article you read about the way consumers perceive recycled materials.
And you got tips on which product aspects are important for which type of consumer group.
But what kind of design does the consumer want?
Wouldn't it be a good idea to ask the consumer?
A conscious designer who is working directly with consumers, who she prefers to call fashion wearers, is Hasmik Matevosyan. I wanted to know why she is working this way and how she does it.
Recently I read the report "Investigating the role of design in the circular economy" from The Great Recovery project in the UK. From that report I like to share with you the parts that will help you to design eco-effective.
What really comes forward in this report is the importance of design to create a good impact. It all starts at the design stage. But in order to make the design work it is important that from every aspect of the supply chain there is someone involved with his own field of expertise.
"Most of the time something is designed for effective manufacturing, not effective recovery. One of the designers expressed his dismay on visiting material recovery centres: All the amount of time, effort and detail that product designers spend putting into their work is roundly mocked at the end of the device's lifecycle when it is destroyed by an all purpose crushing machine." (p31)
That is not what we want, isn't it? So let's design for a circular economy!
In the report they mention four ways of designing:
I am currently participating in a four-week Circular Economy course. The Circular Economy is an overall philosophy incorporating multiple methods like Cradle-to-Cradle, Biomimicry and the performance economy.
“A circular economy seeks to rebuild capital, whether this is financial, manufactured, human, social or natural. This ensures enhanced flows of goods and services. The system diagram illustrates the continuous flow of technical and biological materials through the ‘value circle’.”
In the article from 2th of May 2013 you read about the insights I gained from reading the thesis of Elli Verhulst “The human side of sustainable design implementation from the perspective of change management”. Today you can read how you can implement the gained insights.
A key aspect in implementing sustainable development within firms is communication.
“Within literature on change management, a need for clear and regular communication is emphasised on subjects such as the drivers for and advantages of the changes, the vision and strategy, the planning and provisional results and the impact of the changes on employees (e.g. Hiatt and Creasey, 2003). The content and the order of communicating is nicely illustrated in one of the cases in the study:
‘First you need to say why the change is needed. Then you communicate what will change. Then you need to make it feasible, which means that you put it into documentation, already prepared for them, and then you need to train them.’ ” [p223]
Recently I finished reading the thesis of Elli Verhulst, who gained a doctors degree in product development with her research ‘The human side of sustainable design implementation from the perspective of change management.’ This gave me some interesting insights, which I would like to share with you.
“The study focused on the understanding of the human factors that occur and influence the implementation of sustainable design in practice. The knowledge on change management is thereby applied.” [p279]
Firstly I will give you an understanding what is meant by change management.
“Change management as a discipline studies that process of organisational, planned change in several situations, but mainly in organisational change. The aim of change management is to administer planned change that occurs in organisations, thus on a micro-level, in order to maximise the collective benefits for all people involved and to minimise risks and failures that the implementation of these changes might imply.” [p4]
A designer designs especially for the community. He needs to consider what a user needs, how the culture in which the user lives is developing and how he can connect with the user to start a dialogue. He also needs to consider whether all these inventions we try to make are made for a better garment or a better life for human. The needs mentioned by Prof. Manfred Max-neef are the same for everybody since mankind started to exist, but the way we try to satisfy our needs is different for every person, also for every time period and place we are living in. For example the need for understanding can be satisfied by studying, meditating and investigating. Fashion designers could think of ways how to satisfy the needs of people, however, this does not necessarily mean they need to make new clothes all the time.
Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming and living better. It is about combining ideas about a sense of nature’s time (of regenerating cycles and evolution), culture’s time (of the value of traditions and wisdom) as well as the more common timeframes of fashion and commerce. Its emphasis is on quality (of environment society, working conditions, business, product, etc.) So slow in this context is not the opposite of fast –there is no dualism- it is simply a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.
Recognizing and designing with speeds other than just a fast commercial pace takes the pressure off time. Garments are still mass-produced, but they are done so in supplier factories that pay living wages and maintain high standards. Mutually beneficial relationships between retailers, top brands and their suppliers are fostered over the long term.
At the heart of the idea of slow fashion is balance.
Slow fashion includes products that are designed for rapid imaginative change and symbolic (fashion) expressions as well as those designed for material durability and emotional engagement. Only in balancing these speeds and rhythms of use will quality be achieved. Quality normally comes at a price and at least some slow fashion pieces will cost substantially more than they do today, reflecting their materials, workmanship and values. This will result in us buying fewer high-value, slow-to-consume products and bring key resource savings. It has been suggested for example that the sector could halve its materials use without economic loss if consumers pay a higher price for a product that lasts twice as long. Yet other slow fashion pieces may cost the same or even less than today. These will be specifically designed to be resource-efficient, quick-to-consume products developed, say, as part of carefully planned material cycles.
 S. Brands, The clock of the Long Now, 1999
Quoted from the book: Kate Fletcher, Sustainable fashion & textiles design journeys, 2008, p173
Kaizen stands for little improvements in an existing situation which are the result of an everlasting effort. Innovation is an radical shift in an existing situation which is the result of large investments in technology and/or equipment. – Masaaki Imai
Kaizen is a Japanese method which makes it possible to change your life by taking little steps. Small changes help the human mind to avoid fear that blocks success and creativity. But why do we have this fear? Robert Mauer explains this in his book “De kunst van het Kaizen” (The art of Kaizen):
Humans have three different parts of the brain. At the bottom you find the brain stem, which is also called the reptilian brain. This brain wakes you up in the morning and reminds your heart to beat. Then we have the paleomammalian brain, which coordinates your body temperature, contains your emotions and determines your fight-or-flight response. The third part is the neomammalian complex, also known as the cortex. This part is responsible for the miracle of us being humans. Culture, art, science and music are organized from here.
At this moment the general fashion designer is a sensory experience designer; How does an item feel, how does it look? Smell? Hear? So in short how does the user experiences a garment? This is a fulltime job already. Next to these designers an eco-effective designer will start to exist. Who thinks about which materials are environment friendly? How do we design them in such a way they are easy to separate? How can we get back our materials after use?
Both designers will work on the functionality of an object only from a different perspective. And both have influence on the looks of the final product. For example: An environment friendly technique can be very dominant for the looks. (Think of lasercutting instead of silkscreen printing)
I made a scheme that shows which ingredients a product needs. This can be a start if the product-idea (which product are we going to make) is already there. The questions mentioned are just a few examples to show the differences in approach.