Sustainable best practices regarding designed products will become a critical component of design as we care for earth’s resources in the future. We need to rethink what it means to live sustainably, within our resources and without sacrificing present or future quality of life. For too long sustainability has been defined in terms of environmental solutions alone, but if the equation does not include the economy and societal issues, sustainability will not happen. Fashion related product design is particularly difficult to consider in terms of sustainability. The glut of mass produced apparel and the user behavior associated with purchase and rapid disposal of cheap goods must be addressed. To make the user aware of the problem of perpetual buying of products that will be in the landfill within a year and to provide the designer with best practices that lead to solutions is especially critical. A concerted effort to establish communication between designers and users and then translate findings into educational principles and practices is the focus of this paper. In earlier research with designers on their perceptions and practices of sustainable design we discovered that designers did not understand what to do with sustainability—the need for an updated concept of best practices and excellent prototypes was apparent. Through surveys and interviews motivated by an exhibition on sustainable design, this paper explores a number of user market segments regarding their perceptions and practices of clothing use and disposal and what it might take to create change. These findings are then translated into design principles and related educational strategies.
|Keywords:||Design, Problem Solving, Sustainable Practices|
Professor, College of Design, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, USA