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Distributed design:
You have the power – we have the tool

12. Oct 2021

More than 70 percent of a product’s environmental impact is decided in the design phase.* This makes design and designers a key factor in the circular transition. Distributed design can help fuel that transition – and we have the tool to get you started

Long reads

Designers have the power to make a difference in the world. And using the design approach distributed design can help with just that.

With distributed design, designers have new opportunities to rethink how we design, produce and consume products. It offers new ways for designers to take responsibility and to lead the way to a more circular and sustainable society.

But how do designers take on this responsibility when they have never been asked to think of product life cycles and ways to keep their products from going into landfills?

But hey – what’s the problem?

Why are we even fuzzing about this, you might ask? In case you haven’t heard, earth’s resources are running out. Our industrial system is reaching its physical limits. The linear economy has already created visible climate changes causing environmental havoc around the globe. 

To stop this, we need to think differently about every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the products we produce and use. Yeah. That’s a lot, we know. And this change is getting more urgent.

So, what we’re talking about is moving from a linear to a circular economy. This means that we need to eliminate waste. In a circular economy, there is no such thing as waste – all “waste” becomes the raw materials for something else. Waste holds value. Products are designed to be durable, repairable, and reusable.

But a circular transition is no easy fix or simple task. A circular economy entails a fundamentally different approach in the way we create and consume the products around us.

So, what’s the hold up?

We need to look upstream to tackle the challenges we’re facing by tackling them at the design phase. We need to look at systems as a whole to understand how products can be recycled and reused for new purposes.

With distributed design, designers can design and produce products locally, using locally sourced and sustainable materials. This way we don’t have to ship products around the world and we avoid using more materials than we need. As a result, we can significantly reduce the ecological footprint of our products. 

The challenge for designers is how to get started exploring the possibilities of distributed design when creating the circular products of the future. 

We have the tool to get you started

To help you get started with distributed design, we offer free design tools. The Circular Strategies Wheel is an introductory tool, that gives you an understanding and overview of the different circular strategies that can help you start your circular journey. 

The Circular Strategies Wheel illustrates the full lifespan of a product or a service in three different phases: start of life cycle, product life cycle, and end of life cycle.

The tool helps you relate the different circular strategies within the three phases to your own context to identify challenges, opportunities, and curiosities.

Download the tool and learn how to start imagining the benefits of circular economy in your context.

*More than 70 percent of a product’s environmental impact is decided in the design phase.

About the Distributed Design Platform

The Distributed Design Platform is a four–year project funded by the European Union through the Creative Europe fund.

It acts as an exchange and networking hub for the European Maker Movement. It consists of both online and offline activities such as events, resources, workshops, fairs, and boot camps that promote and advocate for emerging creative talent in Europe and their business productivity and sustainability.

Mads Ohland-Andersen

Project Manager

Mail moa@ddc.dk
Phone +45 4160 4344
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Do you want to know more about getting started with distributed design?

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