Topic 5b: Design for Sustainability

Next Conference: Track 5b

Please click here for more information on track 5b at the ISDRS 2021 Conference, 'Accelerating the progress towards the 2030 SDGs in times of crisis'

Related UN-SDGs

Routledge & Earthscans' Sustainability Hub

Find useful essays, free books and articles, case studies and more at our partner's website: 

Past Conference

  • Messina, Italy, 2018
  • Report on Track OS3-5 5b Design for sustainability
  • Chairs: Astrid Skjerven, Marzia Traverso

The topic met great interest from the conference participants, which was testified by the necessity to create 3 different track sessions to give room to all speakers. There were 13 presentations in total. The contributions covered different sector such as automotive, fashion and building. Even if the focus was sustainability the most of presentations were about environmental pillar of sustainability, only a couple of them include the life cycle costing (and consequently the economic pillar). The contributions were different qualitatively from a more superficial qualitative approach to a quantitative and scientific one. Several reflected the gap between the attitudes of stakeholders and the implementation of eco-friendly solutions. Most used quantitative methods and statistics. Some tended to compare incongruent parameters. Provided further development some of them might become useful tools in building and rebuilding processes. By the way, the importance of this session is very high as well as the necessity to expand to all three pillars of sustainability.

Knowledge Resources

State of the Art:

Peruse recent articles/ chapters below from leading design for sustainability (DfS) scholars, with particular sector-based foci:

Vicky Lofthouse (product) - Using a Product's Sustainability Space as a Design Exploration Tool (2019); and Human-Centred Design of Products And Services for the Circular Economy – A Review (2018)

Kate Fletcher (fashion) - Local Food Initiatives and Fashion Change: Comparing Food and Clothes to Better Understand Fashion Localism (2018)Fashion, Sustainability, and the Anthropocene (2017); and Craft of Use - Post Growth Fashion (2016, whole book)

Anna Meroni (social design/ innovation) - Crossing the Boundaries of Participation, Activism, Paradigm Change, and Incubation: On the Edge of Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (2019, a section in Integrative Design)Design for Social Innovators (2018, chapter in Design Roots); and A Socio-Technical Approach to Design for Community Resilience: A Framework for Analysis and Design Goal Forming (2015)

Nicola Morelli (service design) - Measuring the Change Towards More Sustainable Mobility: MUV Impact Evaluation Approach (2019)Innovation and Design (2019, chapter in Innovation Capacity and the City); and Bringing Service Design to Manufacturing Companies: Integrating PSS and Service Design Approaches (2018)

Carlo Vezzoli (product service systems i.e. PSS) - System Design For Sustainable Energy For All: A New Role For Designers (2018, chapter in Designing Sustainable Energy for All)Product-Service System Design for Sustainability (2017); and New Design Challenges to Widely Implement 'Sustainable Product–Service Systems' (2015)

Karli Verghese, Helen Williams, and Rene Wever (packaging) - The Importance of Packaging Functions for Food Waste of Different Products in Households (2019)Packaging Strategies That Save Food: A Research Agenda for 2030 (2018); and Packaging's Role in Minimizing Food Loss and Waste Across the Supply Chain (2015)

Recent books of interest include; Product Design and Sustainability: Strategies, Tools and Practice by Jane Penty for Routledge (2019)Design for a Sustainable Culture. Perspectives, Practices and Education by Astrid Skjerven et al. for Routledge (2018); and the Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Product Design by Jonathan Chapman et al. for Routledge (2017)


Recommended Sources:

Historically significant work/s that reflect the development of DfS as a scholarly area:

Please also visit these relevant organizational links for DfS connected material/ networks:

  • The Learning Network on Sustainability: For excellent DfS learning resources, championed by Professor Carlo Vezzoli  at Politecnico di Milano
  • The DESIS network: For projects, research and learning at the nexus of DfS and social sustainability, championed by Professors Ezio Manzini and Anna Meroni at Politecnico di Milano

LinkedIn Discussions in our Topic group 5b

Recent discourses on the ISDRS LinkedIn discussion group:

 May 2017 John McDonald  posted: MycoPLACES Ecosystem: a r)evolutionary, bio-inspired platform to enable every person to thrive