Published: Written in Crawley, UK
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Future-first design thinking — written by Marketa Benisek

Marketa writes this…

In the context of sustainability, design of physical products is often perceived as the most important because it can have such far-reaching impacts. Indeed, physical products have immense potential for driving sustainability. The choices we make when we design physical products, from material selection and energy efficiency to resource usage and recyclability, have the potential to shape a more sustainable future. Every decision counts.

But in a world increasingly reliant on digital technology, it is crucial to acknowledge that even digital products have a significant environmental footprint. The infrastructure that enables our online activities relies on physical resources and consumes vast amounts of energy, often derived from fossil fuels. The language we use to describe digital products, such as “the cloud,” “wireless,” or “virtual,” may create the illusion that they have no physical impact. However, the intangible nature of digital products should not hide the very tangible impact they have on the environment.

And this…

If we’re serious about creating a sustainable future, perhaps we should change this common phrase from “Form follows Function” to “Form – Function – Future”. While form and function are essential considerations, the future, represented by sustainability, should be at the forefront of our design thinking. And actually, if sustainability is truly at the forefront of the way we create new products, then maybe we should revise the phrase even further to “Future – Function – Form.” This revised approach would place our future, represented by sustainability, at the forefront of our design thinking. It would encourage us to first ask ourselves, “What is the most sustainable way to design X?” and then consider how the function of X can be met while ensuring it remains non-harmful to people and the planet.

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