Sustainability’s relationship with Product Design Education : Presented at Knowledge Collaboration & Learning for Sustainable Innovation ERSCP-EMSU conference, Delft, The Netherlands.
This paper shares the experiences of delivering dedicated curriculum in sustainable design (BA & MA Programmes at the University for the Creative Arts) and integrating sustainability into already congested Product Design Programmes (BA & BSc Programmes at the University of Hertfordshire). With the former sustainability is the key driver for design innovation, while with the latter sustainability is balanced against the commercial restraints of the professional product designer. As such it introduces the notions of responsibility, issues and stakeholders to other drivers for design such as new technology, brand awareness and profitability. The concepts of needs/issues, both environmental and social/cultural, strategies and assessment in relation to evolving a sustainable world are discussed with students in open forums. There is a shift in delivery whereby students are encouraged to design the experience or response to need rather than assume design propositions have to be products. In effect the mandate for product design has expanded to encompass services and systems. Importance is placed on research identifying real rather than assumed needs and students are taught to think holistically beyond the lifecycle of products. The financial concept of the single bottom line is expanded to the triple bottom with happiness and well being examples of the parameters used to gauge the success of design propositions. Finally the paper reflects on what depth can be achieved within a standard three year degree programme and what aspects of sustainability can only be dealt with superficially.