Week 1: Concept summary

The first round of research and planning

I’ve chosen to focus on the topic of sustainability, as I did during Contemporary Design issues, when I studied that last year.

My essay there compared three products against McDonough and Braungart’s 5 rules of eco effectiveness, and interestingly, two of the three were very particular uses of cardboard as an eco effective solution to a design problem.

The first was Recompute – a computer design that combined eco-effective replacement of metal with cardboard, and design for disassembly, in that once the computer is ready to be recycled, it can be broken down easily into component parts, and the case itself returned to the biocycle.

The second is Shigeru Ban’s use of the paper partition wall system to erect simple emergency housing in the Phillipines after an earthquake.

The overall concept of this publication is on the use of a product that is considered generally to be a throw-away short-term use material, as a possible long-term use product.

This also promotes the idea of exploring unexpected use for materials considered otherwise inappropriate. Who would expect to build a small house, let alone a cathedral, out of cardboard?

The target market for this is product designers and/or architects seeking insight into unusual materials as stimulus for future projects. Case studies, in effect.

I’m currently widening research into other cardboard products, for two reasons – one is that there is possibly another product that could be used to replace one of these, and the second is that a ‘side-bar’ could be included in the final publication, showing some other interesting uses, in brief.

My essay for CDI was tightly written and comprehensive, and can be pulled apart and used as the core of a 3000 word article, with additional writing that creates an introduction to the topic and why it might be of interest, etc. and expands on each subject as well.

The plan

Revising previous research, as well as reading more widely, has led to a completed text and clear plan of action:

1. Introduction

Methods of design and manufacture based on the Industrial Revolution are aimed at quick and profitable production, which usually ends up in landfill.

2. Wasteful waste

The cradle-to-grave philosphy of nearly all products means that landfill is composed of enormous amounts of usable material that is wasted. Surely there’s a better way?

3. The need for sustainable design

The serious environmental effects of resource depletion demand a more sustainable approach. How can we find it?

4. Cradle to cradle

In describing a system of material flows where waste is carefully cycled back into creation of new materials, “waste equals food” provides the outline of a solution.

5. The five steps of eco-effectiveness

A methodology for improving production processes that provides a way of moving toward a true cradle to cradle system.

6. Design for disassembly

In order to ensure clean materials re-enter the appropriate material flow, designing a product to be disassembled as well as assembled provides a clear path to material recovery.

 7. Implementing methodologies

An introduction to two case studies that use the simplest of organic materials – cardboard – as a clever way to manufacture cost effectively, and disassemble easily.

8. Recompute

A computer design that replaces an external case requiring enormous production energy, with one that is light and easy to disassemble and recycle using cradle to cradle principles.

9. Shigeru Ban – the paper partition system

A simple and light material is combined with adaptable local materials used to construct shelters in emergency/disaster situations, returning to the local environment afterward the need has ceased.

10. How effective are these solutions?

How do these solutions match with the steps of eco effectiveness? Does their method of design for disassembly work?

11. Reaching for change

What challenges lie ahead for designers looking to implement these strategies?

This summary reflects the content of the individual sections, and lays out a general narrative.