The Green Product Design Network: Focusing on the Role of Materials in Product Design

By Kiersten Muenchinger.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is an assumption by many that a green product is one whose materials are noteworthy in their sustainability. “Probably something made of bamboo.” This response does not address the complexity of designing products out of materials that are best suited for an application, a fabrication process, and an end user. It is also a frustratingly just response, in that the confusion of materials and their relationship to products is muddied by designers, materials producers, and marketing agents, whose varied interests in the greenness of products may conflict with each other. Of course a good way to clarify and support unified messages is to connect people with common goals. One such connection method is the Green Product Design Network (GPDN). By connecting experts in business, chemistry, design and marketing, the GPDN exposes the complicated, multi-disciplined, multi-focused effort to create more sustainable products, and strives to create synergistic alliances that will make revolutionary green product design occur. In this paper, the attempts the GPDN has made to improve understanding about how new products affect the environment and our economic structures; to invent greener products, materials, and chemicals; and to create meaningful educational programs for current and future generations, are introduced and analyzed.

Keywords: Product Design, Industrial Design, Green Chemistry, Sustainable Business, Green Marketing, Sustainable Materials

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.215-222. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 793.761KB).

Kiersten Muenchinger

Director, Product Design Program, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA

Kiersten Muenchinger is the Director of the Product Design Program and a principal of the Green Product Design Network at the University of Oregon. Kiersten researches new materials and their processing methods to understand when new materials technologies can be accepted in consumer products. She is an active member in the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA). Before coming to the U of O, Kiersten was a design engineer with IDEO, Fitch, Sottsass Associatti, Walt Disney Imagineering, the Long Now Foundation and Parapluie, and was the Assistant Chair of Industrial Design at California College of the Arts. She received her M.S. and B.A. degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and Dartmouth College respectively.

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