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Business owner:
"Why Insist on An Approach that Destroys The Planet?"

19. Nov 2020
Long reads

Lamp designer Tom Rossau, and the company that bears his name, are among the first to participate in the project Green Circular Transition. The project helps small and medium-sized companies develop new, circular business models. “Small and medium-sized companies need to rethink their production”, says design expert Julie Hjort from the Danish Design Center.

It’s been more than 23 years since the self-made Tom Rossau designed the first of his characteristic lamps in wood veneer. Today, the sculptural illuminants decorate the windows and ceiling of his boutique and workshop on a tree-lined avenue in the upscale Copenhagen neighborhood, Frederiksberg. The bright rooms are filled with chatter from the designers crafting the day’s production of lamps.

“It’s a personal ambition to create a more sustainable business. I think it’s important. Why use more resources and materials than we have to? Why insist on an approach that destroys the planet? It makes no sense to me,” replies Tom Rossau when asked why he signed up for the Green Circular Transition program.

An outside perspective makes all the difference

Even though the ambition to become a circular business has matured over time, it’s been difficult for Tom Rossau to start the transition.

“The biggest challenge I’ve experienced in the approach to a more circular and sustainable business model is the difference between guessing and actual knowledge. We need as much input from experts as possible to move forward in this process,” says Tom Rossau. 

It didn’t take long for Tom Rossau and his team to benefit from an outside perspective. Shortly after their first workshop, they felt the effect: 

“Two and a half hours after our first workshop, we talked about something completely different from what we’ve talked about the past year, the past five years, actually the past ten years. So it works!” He concludes with a smile.

International requirements for new production methods

Over the next two years, the Green Circular Transition program helps more than 400 Danish small and medium-sized companies develop their businesses in a more sustainable and circular direction. And the ability to transform to a greener way of running your business is vital for our society and for the survival of many companies:

“It’s important that companies become more circular in their production methods, simply because we are running out of materials. At some point in the future, there will be no more of the materials, we’ve previously used in our products. It’s one thing that a lot of companies and citizens are already moving in that direction, but businesses are actually required – by national agencies and international bodies like EU – to rethink the way they produce,” says Julie Hjort, Sustainability Program manager here at DDC.

tom rossau
tom rossau
tom rossau

Design methods fuel the green transition

As part of the Green Circular Transition project, we offer innovation programs based on design thinking for small and medium-sized companies. 

Julie Hjort explains: “We work strategically and innovatively with the participating companies to establish a safe space that fosters dialogue and challenges existing processes. That’s how we support a green and user-driven focus.”

The project offers DKK 80,000 worth of expert counseling to help develop a new green and circular business model. For Tom Rossau that means they’ve been able to work with the design agency In futurum throughout the process. 

Frederik Larsen, co-founder, and consultant at In futurum was also part of the first workshop with Tom Rossau:

“When we work with small and medium-sized companies, we see that the tools you typically use in design processes create change in a very flexible way. The tools help the businesses think through processes in a way, that’s very fitting for an often quite hectic workday,” he explains of the potential wins when using design methods. 

The alternative is tragic

Back at the Tom Rossau workshop, the first batch of lamps is laid out to dry while yesterday’s batch is ready for the next step in the hand-crafted process. The wooden slats need to be fixed before the next round of drying. 

“As a business, we invest around 360 hours in this project, and that’s the only “expense” we have. It’s essential for a small company like ours,” says Tom Rossau about the considerations the team had before signing up. He adds: 

“With that being said, it’s simply important for me to create a sustainable business – because the alternative is tragic.”



Read more about the project Tom Rossau participated in

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