Co-design workshops show soci-eco design opportunities

The co-design approach may not be new, but using it to increase skills and help realise eco-economic opportunities during a recession is, according to sustainable design consultant Alastair Fuad-Luke.

The author of The Eco-Design Handbook is behind a series of nine workshops called ‘Co-design4…’, launching at the beginning of next month and running until October.

An expanding perspective of the issues surrounding sustainability now requires an approach to design that encompasses input from a wider breadth of stakeholders, according to Fuad-Luke, if there is to be any in-depth understanding of the opportunities of eco-innovation.

The key objective of the workshops is to help designers overcome what Fuad-Luke terms ‘the client reality’, or the bottom line, opening participants up to the key drivers and issues surrounding sustainability. They also aim to help identify opportunities generated by these issues and providing case studies of new enterprise models and ways of working. ‘Designers sometimes say, “You’re not grounded in reality. You’re not dealing with our clients’ reality”.

‘The biggest challenge is to make economic sense for the client, but this is now coming under carbon footprints, delivering on EU climate directives and lifecycle thinking, and this is where most designers aren’t clued up,’ says Fuad-Luke.

‘I disagree with Sir Martin Sorrell that the [creative services] sector is going to be in a recession for the next two years. These workshops will show that there are plenty of opportunities out there for designers.

‘I’ve seen very strong signals recently that the socio-eco economy is giving rise to new business models, and it’s up to designers to help generate and service these,’ he adds.

Among the themes to be addressed, though in separate workshops, is the emergence of the eco-economy and the opportunities driving entrepreneurs to look for ways of creating new business models to help deliver social equity across communities, reducing environmental impacts and regenerating local and global ecologies. The expanding lexicon of the eco-economy – which includes terms such as low-carbon, carbon-neutral, closed-loop systems, cradle-to-cradle and co-production enterprise – will be examined. Other workshop themes are eco-efficiency, or the idea of conserving energy and using as few resources as possible through design, as well as sustainable travel and the design approaches involved.

One of the more apocalyptically titled workshops – Adaptabilty, Resilience and Autonomy – will explore how design can facilitate adaptation to the adverse food and energy circumstances that climate change is likely to bring.

The workshops coincide with the publication of Fuad-Luke’s revised eco-design handbook, which is due to be published in July by Thames & Hudson.

co-design4… workshops

Target audience/ design professionals, design educators,other professionals working within sustainability, design and other postgraduates, socio-preneurs and eco-preneurs, social and commercial enterprise managers, sustainability managers or officers

Approaches explored: eco-design, co-design, slow design, design facilitation, design communication, design innovation

Learning outcomes: key sustainability issues, opportunities generated by these and case studies revealing new enterprise models and ways of working

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