Sustainable Design (Sustainability Sig)

Track Chair

Dr Rhoda Trimingham

Track Subchairs​

Carolina Escobar-Tello,

Fiona Charnley,

Connie Bakker,

Mariale Moreno,

Garrath Wilson,

Jordi Segalas,

Emma Dewberry,

Tim Cooper

The Sustainability Special Interest Group (SIG) provides an international platform for researchers, design practitioners, design educators, students, and the general public to exchange knowledge about all aspects of Design for Sustainability. For DRS2018, the definition of Sustainable Design has been kept deliberately broad to allow for maximum participation, and invites papers in all areas of Sustainable Design. This year we would also like to invite specific papers on:

  • Circular Design
  • Design of Sustainable Systems and Services
  • Sustainable Design and Global Development Challenges
  • Transformative Thinking for Sustainable Design

Circular Design

The concept of Circular Design can be described as the challenge to link together the concepts of Design for Sustainability and the Circular Economy, promoting a radical reshaping of current business approaches towards the development of sustainable and competitive products, services, and systems. Paper submissions could discuss, but are not limited to: design strategies for Circular Design; Circular business model innovation; innovative education experiences promoting Circular Design; co-creation to promote Circular Design; transdisciplinarity as a method to facilitate innovative Design for Sustainability; socio-technical approaches to Circular Design; design of sustainable systems and services.

Sustainable Design and Global Development Challenges

More and more sustainability is considered intrinsic to global development; encompassing the traditional three pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) but going further to include culture as the fourth pillar as well as taking a view of the world as being increasingly connected through global economies, politics, technological advances, climate change, with a heightened awareness of global inequalities. Paper submissions should discuss Design’s contribution to Global Development.

Transformative thinking for Sustainable Design

This topic explores the gaps still evident in everyday design which lacks the radical transformation required to push the dominant industrial paradigm towards an ecological based mode of thinking and doing. Sustainability activities may now appear as more central to the rhetoric of Government policy, organisational strategy, and educational practices, but measures of growth and success are still fixated upon, and reinforce, the premise that increasing the flows of resources within the economy is inherently good. These economic parameters do not reflect the limits of the ecological boundaries of Earth's resources. Such a shift requires a radical leap in thinking to promote new approaches in design. Paper submissions should reflect ecological thinking in design through the exploration of theory, policy, practice, or educational approaches that respond to the critical resource challenges of industrial production and consumption ideologies. Papers can also discuss the more intangible way in which design can promote a transformative shift to ‘better’ – sustainable, happier and healthier – lifestyles; this ultimately requires getting the big picture clear: building prosperous sustainable societies where people’s values, needs, and wants are [re]defined and satisfied through co-sustained user-PSS relationships. This track calls for evidence of research which transcends boundaries and promotes debate on the inter-relationship between design, sustainability, and happiness.

Indicative References:

Bocken, N.M.P.; de Pauw, I.; Bakker, C.; van der Grinten, B. Product design and business model strategies for a circular economy. Journal of Industrial and Product Engineering, 2016, 33, p.p.308-320. (accessed on 25 June 2016).​

De-los-Rios, C.; Charnley, F. Skills and capabilities for a sustainable and circular economy: The changing role of design. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2016 

Bakker, C.A.; Wang, F.; Huisman, J.; den Hollander, M. Products that go round: exploring product life extension through design. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2014, 69, pp. 10-16.

Ehrenfeld, J. (2008) Sustainability by Design: A Subversive Strategy for Transforming Our Consumer Culture, US: Yale University Press

Escobar-Tello M C. (2016) ‘A New Design Framework to Build Sustainable Societies: Using Happiness as leverage’. The Design Journal, Volume 19, Issue 01, p.93-115. DOI:10.1080/14606925.2016.1109206