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Title: Innovative ecodesign : an exploratory and descriptive study of Industrial Design practice
Author: Sherwin, C.
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2000
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This research provides a study of practices of Innovative Ecodesign. The literature has extensively highlighted the need for more radical innovations and more innovative approaches to ecodesign, to fall in line with sustainability targets. However, both theory and practice (and the resultant tools and methods) describe and present a more incremental approach, as prevalent and most suitable. Using a single case study methodology within the Industrial Design department of a major Electrical and Electronics manufacturer, this exploratory and descriptive study contributes to the theoretical framework and practical understanding of more innovative practices of ecodesign. Earlier work suggested that integrating ecodesign at the early stages of product development was critical to its environmental effectiveness and ability to innovate. This study therefore aimed to investigate Innovative Ecodesign by considering two key factors: - Its integration into the early stages of the product design and development process - Industrial Design practices of ecodesign. The research concluded on Industrial Design practice as well as on the characteristics of Innovative Ecodesign. Industrial designers conduct ecodesign in there own unique way, not fully represented in existing theory or accounted for in existing methods. They require specific types of information usually general and visually presented as well as substantiated with case studies and examples. The potential to innovate is seen as the greatest motivator for designers to conduct ecodesign, while their design processes use environmental priorities and 'the product' in an ambiguous way. Designer s key role and most significant contribution is in creative and strategic thinking (new ideas), and the proposal of new concepts which have a strong emphasis on increasing the desirability of these 'eco-products' or new behaviours. This demand-side orientation in the design considerations is particularly unique to Industrial Design. The practices of Innovative Ecodesign undertaken here can be characterised as follows. It is an exploratory form of designing with an emphasis on openness and design freedom. Such design activities are perhaps best not immediately answerable to product development or aimed directly at the launch of new products. Among its aims are in embodying and expressing ecodesign principles and communicating these to others. Such design activities are strategic in their nature and requiring greater levels of participation across the production and consumption chain in future. They are systems based and holistic and prioritise environmental issues within the design brief. An important early aspect is the identification of either/or core business and consumer needs, which broadens the design considerations. The study relates these findings back to existing ecodesign theory, and conclude that both ecodesign (its theory, descriptions, definitions and practice) and design itself (its profile, uses and practice) need to change and mature.
Supervisor: Bhamra, T. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available