How circular is current design practice? Investigating perspectives across industrial design and architecture in the transition towards a circular economy
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

The transition to a circular economy (CE) produces a range of new challenges for designers and requires specific knowledge, strategies, and methods. To date, most studies regarding design for a CE have been theoretical and conceptual, hence, limited research has been conducted on the practical implications of designing for a CE. Therefore, the aim of this study is to provide a better understanding of how design practitioners interpret and implement the CE concept in practice. To capture the complexity of real-world cases, semi-structured interviews were carried out with design practitioners (N = 12) within the disciplines of architecture and industrial design who have actively worked with circularity in a design agency setting. The results show that the practitioners have diverse perspectives on designing for a CE, relating to (1) the circular design process, (2) the effects of the CE on design agencies, (3) the changing role of the designer, and (4) the external factors affecting circular design in practice. Some differences were identified between the architects and industrial designers, with the industrial designers more strongly focused on circular business models and the architects on the reuse of materials on a building level. In addition, circular strategies and associated (similar) terminologies were understood and applied in fundamentally different ways. As the CE blurs boundaries of scale and disciplines, there is a need for universal design frameworks and language. The CE concept is expanding the scope of the design process and driving the integration of new knowledge fields and skills in the design process. The successful implementation of the CE in practice is based on extensive collaboration with stakeholders and experts throughout all stages of the design process. Design agencies have addressed the CE by establishing dedicated CE research and design teams, facilitating knowledge exchange, developing their own circular strategies and methods, and striving for long-term client relationships that foster the engagement of designers with the lifecycles of designed artefacts rather than perceiving design projects as temporary endeavors. Ultimately, a holistic and integral approach towards design in a CE is needed to ensure that the underlying CE goals of contributing to sustainable development and establishing a systemic shift are ongoingly considered.

industrial design

Circular economy

sustainability

circular design

circular business models

architecture

Författare

Giliam Dokter

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Arkitekturens teori och metod

Liane Thuvander

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Arkitekturens teori och metod

Ulrike Rahe

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Arkitekturens teori och metod, Forskning - Arkitekturens teori och metod

Sustainable Production and Consumption

2352-5509 (eISSN)

Vol. 26 April 2021 692-708

Det cirkulära köket

HSB Living Lab, 2018-01-01 -- 2021-12-31.

Climate-KIC, 2018-01-01 -- 2021-12-31.

Ämneskategorier

Arkitekturteknik

Design

Arkitektur

Drivkrafter

Hållbar utveckling

Styrkeområden

Produktion

DOI

10.1016/j.spc.2020.12.032

Mer information

Senast uppdaterat

2021-02-02