Eco-design is considered as a complex process and perceived as a constraint by companies. Yet it aims to balance ecological and economic requirements in product development.
The new way of thinking is more global – this is to reduce the environmental impact throughout the life cycle of a product, preserving the objectives of competitiveness, quality and time-to-market. The activity of design, which is already a multidisciplinary field involving a large number of tools and a wealth of knowledge, must now integrate environmental aspects. A recent study has shown that companies engage in a process of eco-design mainly under the pressure of regulation, with the strong involvement of leaders, a clear corporate policy, and brand image and customer satisfaction.
Issues and motivations
The development of methods and design tools is influenced by many factors such as trends, laws, standards and technological developments.
Eco-design is the result of awareness about the state of the planet, threatened by the multiple crises: financial, increase in C02 emissions, “peak oil”, resource depletion, deforestation, climate change, population growth…
These are systemic and interdependent.
What influence on the design?
Faced with these crises, an idea would be to rethink the organizations in terms of 3P combined Profit, People (skills) and improving the state of the planet. We find these considerations underlying the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).
Moreover, the strategic approach of Knowledge Management believes that the developed countries are in transition from the industrial age to the knowledge – company processes must be based on knowledge flows facilitating its activities.
Innovation is defined as a series of creations, evolutions, exchange and transformation of ideas into products and services for the success of the company / organization, the vitality of the economy and the company’s progress. It focuses on customer involvement in this process as a stakeholder. It is them who keep the business and a source of ideas and knowledge. The design part of this process aims sustainable success for all participants, including the environment.
On the other hand, the rapid development of ICTs and information systems impact methods and tools for the design, including collaboration design.
Technological progress means that the objects are connected and communicating refrigerators that speaks and offers a menu from elements in it, or throwing a milk control, when it runs out.
CSR has led market economy towards a new business model where the sale of products is replaced by the sale of its features.
The economy of knowledge allows us to go beyond in providing related services based on the expertise already used in design and operation. Another way might be associated with it: spend sustainable development to sustainable products.
The approach to the design knowledge
Eco-design is the opposite of planned obsolescence in the design of most products of the consumer. We often exchange ‘standard’ – a window door closing deteriorating involves changing window door because the lock system has changed, or even a modification of the walls, as the new standard no longer corresponds to that of ten years ago. So we offer the manufacture of a custom window door (another business model). This approach is contradictory to the “green building”.
Eco-design or e-co-innovate?
While CSR requires reducing environmental impact by adding constraints on current approaches, the e-co-innovation offers an evolution towards a gardener designer of knowledge. Eco-design is a part of an overall process of e-co-innovation that is unifying of all business processes.
The process of e-co-innovation begins with an idea and leads to sustainable success of all participants. It consists of two parts: creativity and transformation of the idea.
Creativity continues throughout the life cycle, as it allows for intensely offer new products at the Apple image. One idea is usually a response to the needs, we can copy the idea of a competitor (Apple copied Xerox ideas and has been copied in turn by Microsoft), or is intended to create new needs.
All participants, including stakeholders’ proposals. Innovation becomes co-innovation. The idea is then validated by technological experts for feasibility, marketing specialists and by HRD to plan resources for its development. In the event that it comes from a customer, a part of the market is already assured, but can open others, thanks to the partners involved in the process.
Perspectives and Trends
Among the ways to reduce the environmental impact, the replacement of sustainable development can be noted by sustainable products. The design inspired by nature in connection with natural ecosystems is already practiced on a small scale, because it requires the combination of multidisciplinary knowledge, but it will certainly influence the design. Intelligence insects and plants added to that of humans and machines (artificial intelligence) could open other paths in design.