More information on cookies
Today, designers can no longer ignore the environmental impact of the products and services they design, or help to design. With circular design, they now have the conceptual framework and tools to implement responsible design and thus contribute to a more sustainable future.
The Meadows Report published by MIT in 1972 was the first study to explain the consequences of pursuing an economic model of infinite development in a world with finite resources.
But it is only now, 50 years later, that awareness is growing and attitudes are beginning to change, both in civil society and in companies.
This did not stop the design world from thinking about environmental protection at an early stage.
For example, even before the Meadows Report, the industrial designer Victor Papanek published “Design for the real world” (1971). In this manifesto for responsible design, he already mentioned the urgency of taking environmental impacts into account in design, and laid the foundations of eco-design.
Ten years later, in 1982, the German designer Dieter Rams also stated in “Ten Principles for Good Design” that “good design” must be – among other things – “sustainable” and “environmentally friendly”.
These ecological concerns have made their way into design thinking, leading today to what is known as Circular Design.
Circular Design is where design thinking and the circular economy intertwine.
That is to say, on the one hand, the upstream process of the design approach, which aims to understand the problem before trying to solve it; and on the other hand, economic thinking which aims to drastically reduce the consumption of raw materials and non-renewable energies, while reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.
Circular design is the logical continuation of design thinking, as Tim Brown, the founding father of Design Thinking and Circular Design, creator and president of the design agency Ideo, likes to say.
Like design thinking, circular design is a multidisciplinary collective intelligence process that draws on all the expertise available in the company, but which leads project teams towards more sustainable innovations.
Environmental sustainability analysis requires consideration of the entire life cycle of the product: from the extraction of raw materials, through its design, manufacture, transport, use and even repair, to its recycling.
The focus is not only on the user and the context of use, as in design thinking.
Environmental sustainability analysis requires a systems approach to understanding the system beyond the user.
It is about understanding the interdependencies in the system and the causal loops. This step makes it possible to identify the issues and measure their importance. It also helps to identify opportunities that might not otherwise be identified.
Circular design will also seek to anticipate the ecological and societal impacts, also known as ‘externalities’, of our innovations in the medium and long term, taking into account the risks of rebound effects. To do this, it will rely on design fiction.
Circular design is therefore a new way of continuing to innovate, while addressing the societal and environmental challenges that are becoming urgent.
To propose sustainable innovation, circular design reconciles the innovation process with ecology by proposing a product or service that generates little or no waste.
Ideally, this product or service should even contribute to the regeneration of ecosystems, because it is no longer time for carbon neutrality, but rather for positive impact.
Orange has set itself very ambitious environmental targets in the Engage 2025 strategic plan. We integrate Circular Design into the Meaningful Innovation approach implemented by Orange Innovation / Marketing and Design. Like Design Thinking, it is about taking into account desirability, economic viability, technical feasibility and environmental sustainability in our decision-making processes.
Yet 80% of ecological impacts are determined during the design phase… We, as designers, have a role to play in questioning and encouraging changes in product and service innovation.
As Ben Parker said to his nephew Peter Parker (Spiderman) “With great power comes great responsibility”…
It’s up to us!
“Circular designing is my way of fulfilling my responsibility towards the planet and its inhabitants” by Gabriella Cinque, Circular Designer at the Orange Xdlab
Updated Aug. 2022
Updated Jul. 2021
Updated Sep. 2021
we want to know your view about design.orange.com