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  • Writer's pictureStudio Sarah Müller

DESIGN BLOG: HOW DOES SUSTAINABLE DESIGN WORK?

Updated: May 2




PART 1:

Sustainable factors are becoming increasingly important in our consumer society. Designers bear a great responsibility by influencing the materials, complexity and life cycle of products. However, there are many other ways to make products sustainable in the long term. Here are some tips that I have learned in recent years:




1. MATERIALS


The obvious first. Of course, wood, for example, is also a finite resource, and the use of plastic should not always be demonized from the outset. I simply believe that designers are in a better position if they include as many materials as possible in their considerations and make the objectively best choice for the product.


Tip: Does the use of natural materials such as wood, stone or cork impair the function of the product? Are there other disadvantages? If not, try to broaden your choice of materials and use degradable ones. Also consider how your products are finished or sealed.








2. MINIMALISM



Minimalist design approaches conserve resources. In my opinion, however, this is not the only advantage. Products that focus on function without unnecessary decoration are usually not very trend-oriented either. Conversely, this means that a product is perceived as being more timeless and aesthetically pleasing to users for longer, which in turn leads to lower consumption.


Tip: Sketch the most important function of your product on a sheet of paper within 10 seconds. Concentrate on this most important function and then find a shape that supports this function in the best possible way.








3. FLEXIBILITY


Designing products so that they can be used in different life situations is also becoming increasingly important for designers. Be it through multiple functions in one product or the adaptability of size ratios: Users appreciate it when products can grow with them and are perceived as practical.


Tip: Do you stand out from the competition by making your product more flexible? Check in advance how important additional functions are for the customer and whether they are even

relevant in this context.








4. USER CENTRICITY


Linked to the previous point is the involvement of customers in the design process. Is a product practical enough in the end and does it meet the wishes and needs of the user? If so, then this is a characteristic that leads to a product being used with pleasure and for a long time. A plus point can be that the user-centered approach allows people to build a stronger bond with your product, as they have been able to actively contribute to it and they appreciate that their opinion is heard.


Tip: If you are developing your own product without a company, conduct (online) surveys with the desired target group to understand the customers' problems and stay in touch with them. If you have the opportunity, invite a sample of your target group and let them test prototypes.









5. SERVICE


One of the reasons why people choose a product is the service. Can you answer all important questions? Do they feel they are in good hands with you? Do you communicate your intentions and unique selling points well and clearly? External feedback means that you are constantly rethinking and developing your products and approaches to make your offering better and better.


Tip: Ask customers for brief feedback during the project and also after completion to improve your process and your product presentation. Stay in contact with customers even after a product has been sold and signal your support and willingness to cooperate even after a project has been completed.







Of course, the successful implementation of these points requires time and, above all, financial resources, which are not available for every project. Nevertheless, it helps me to have some of these points in mind and to take them into account when planning a project. We all know that sustainability is not about making everything perfect down to the smallest detail. Here too, the journey is the reward.


I am excited to see what opportunities technological progress will offer us in the coming years and what designers can use to actually make our consumption greener.

This text reflects the opinion of the author and does not claim to be universally valid.






If you have any questions or suggestions

I am available for you by e-mail at










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