Sustainable design – materials for more sustainability

What is sustainable design?

Sustainable design, also known as eco-design, is a relatively young design stream. It is based on the intelligent use of resources in order to reduce the environmental problems of our time. The key to this is our understanding of materials. Sustainable design sees what appears to be waste as a resource: Many things that are thrown away without thinking can be recycled.

To simplify, there are basically two possibilities: Firstly, materials can be broken down into their individual parts and reused, as is already commonplace for example with paper and PET bottles. These recycled materials can be processed further in lots of different ways to form new products.

Secondly, materials can also be reused in their original form, by redefining their role and function. This requires a considerable amount of creativity in order to integrate old shapes harmoniously into a new design concept, which is why this form of recycling is less common. However, the Can Watch from Alchemist Creations is a particularly masterful example: The base of a soft drinks can was reinvented as a watch face and body, giving the designer watch a very special charm. The result is a unique watch that won the Red Dot Award: Best of the Best for its excellent design in 2013, taking into account sustainability aspects.

What are the principles of sustainable design?

Sustainable design has developed from the insight that responsible product design also has to take environmental protection aspects into account. For the development of environmentally friendly design, there are some basic principles that, while not mandatory, do make sense to observe. These include:

Material efficiency – i.e. materials used and products manufactured are closely related. Unnecessary waste or wastage is avoided where possible.
Energy efficiency – i.e. the manufacturing process should not entail huge energy consumption, both in terms of obtaining the material and the production process itself as well as in the later use of the product.
Longevity – i.e. the product should not need a lot of repairs. Instead it should be made in a robust and durable manner with a timeless design. Ultimately this means that the product has to be replaced less often, thus reducing the amount of waste. Material-sympathetic design – i.e. the material is chosen such that its natural properties match the desired characteristics of the product.

Sustainable design for our future

While sustainable design began as somewhat of a niche development, it has now become an integral part of the industry: More and more designers are working in a resource-saving way and more and more design prizes are being awarded not just for the aesthetics and functionality of the work but also for its sustainability and environmental friendliness. In the case of most products, you can’t even tell that they are partially made from recycled materials.

Red Dot 21 also stocks lots of high-quality and award-winning products with a winning combination of features that include sustainable design aspects. Take a little browse on our website and find out for yourself how beautiful sustainable design can be!

Your Red Dot 21 Team

Posted on 07.09.2015

Back to overview