5 November 2007

Does sustainable product development require user-centred design?

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Design is the Problem
Nathan Shedroff, the new programme chair of the MBA in design strategy at California College of the Arts (see also this post), gave a very powerful talk entitled “Design is the Problem” at the recent Connecting ’07 congress on the topic of sustainability and design.

His presentation (pdf, 2.7 mb, 81 slides) provides an overview of the various sustainability frameworks and provides insight on what sustainable product development actually means, or could/should mean.

Far down in the presentation, new words pop up to describe the sustainable design process: “user-centric design”, “iterative prototyping”, and experience”.

Nathan clarifies: “More meaningful products as well as ones that better meet our needs don’t require us to buy more and more things (in order to fill those needs and desires). Fewer, more meaningful, effective, and sustainable products will be more fulfilling and more sustainable than more and more less fulfilling, effective, and meaningful ones. In addition, devices that adequately meet our needs, especially technological ones, often have the effect of not only dematerialising competing products but also products in other categories (like the iPods and iPhones are doing).”

According to Allan Chochinov of Core77, Nathan is now working on a new book which has the same title as his Connecting ’07 lecture. I am already looking forward to it.

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