A Design Perspective on Sustainable Innovation

Publication, 2013


M. Kretschmer - A Design Perspective on Sustainable Innovation in Management of the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation - Springer Verlag, 2013, pp. 209-221


Today, we are facing global problems that arise from a non-sustainable product culture which causes an immense waste of resources by products. Especially in saturated markets, design has been directly assigned the task of keeping consumption levels high or even increasing them by creating more new products. In addition to the predominantly product-related ecodesign, sustainable design describes a more holistic approach, focusing much more on social, ethical and economic factors of product life cycles. In the context of sustainable innovation, the greatest potential of design lies in influencing the perception of sustainability, thus making sustainability as a concept actually come to life. Designers’ creative artistic skills like problem-solving strategies based on visual skills of thinking and communication and the mastery of encoding and decoding the signs of a product can contribute to developing sustainable innovations. The contribution of design to sustainable innovation cannot be restricted to the product level, it also involves societal system innovations, usage innovations, and organizational innovations with the aim of establishing reduced resource consumption by fewer products. To establish processes of product development, production and use which are culturally sustainable in a consistent way, design depends on close cooperation with the users already very early in the fuzzy front end of the innovation process.