Abstract

While the discipline of industrial design can contribute to developing more environmentally friendly products, researchers have found that even in companies with environmentally progressive products, engineers are more readily involved in ecodesign activities than industrial designers. Some authors propose to fundamentally change the context for designers and free them from their current role of serving the economically motivated manufacturing industry. This would allow them to generate sustainable solutions and actively contribute to sustainable development. Other scholars direct their attention towards the knowledge and ability of industrial designers to conduct ecodesign activities. The role industrial designers can take for ecodesign within their current environment remains unclear. This paper applies the framework of diffusion of innovations (DoI) to discuss how industrial designers can take a more active role in integrating ecodesign within an economically motivated context, using the example of an industrial design consultancy (IDC) collaborating with commercial client. For actively diffusing ecodesign, the paper proposes that an IDC needs to fill the roles of a local innovator and of a change agent. To do this the IDC needs to internalise knowledge on practicing ecodesign as well as convince its client of probable business opportunities for ecodesign. To identify these opportunities it can either draw on research into the current context for ecodesigned solutions or utilize design activity as a strategic resource to identify a potentially unarticulated demand for ecodesigned solutions. The paper concludes by pointing out areas of further research such as empirically exploring how knowledgeable IDCs are in terms of ecodesign and how they gain trust and credibility in their role as change agents. Thereby context specific factors need to be taken into account such as industrial design education programs as well as the cultural environment the IDCs operate in.

Keywords

strategic design, ecodesign, industrial design consulting

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

The role of Industrial Design Consultancies in Diffusing the Concept of Ecodesign

While the discipline of industrial design can contribute to developing more environmentally friendly products, researchers have found that even in companies with environmentally progressive products, engineers are more readily involved in ecodesign activities than industrial designers. Some authors propose to fundamentally change the context for designers and free them from their current role of serving the economically motivated manufacturing industry. This would allow them to generate sustainable solutions and actively contribute to sustainable development. Other scholars direct their attention towards the knowledge and ability of industrial designers to conduct ecodesign activities. The role industrial designers can take for ecodesign within their current environment remains unclear. This paper applies the framework of diffusion of innovations (DoI) to discuss how industrial designers can take a more active role in integrating ecodesign within an economically motivated context, using the example of an industrial design consultancy (IDC) collaborating with commercial client. For actively diffusing ecodesign, the paper proposes that an IDC needs to fill the roles of a local innovator and of a change agent. To do this the IDC needs to internalise knowledge on practicing ecodesign as well as convince its client of probable business opportunities for ecodesign. To identify these opportunities it can either draw on research into the current context for ecodesigned solutions or utilize design activity as a strategic resource to identify a potentially unarticulated demand for ecodesigned solutions. The paper concludes by pointing out areas of further research such as empirically exploring how knowledgeable IDCs are in terms of ecodesign and how they gain trust and credibility in their role as change agents. Thereby context specific factors need to be taken into account such as industrial design education programs as well as the cultural environment the IDCs operate in.

 

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