Industrial Designers Are Key to a Sustainable Future

The first Sustainability Deep Dive from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), held online in June 2020, drew hundreds of designers, students, and educators from more than 25 countries.

Back for a second year, IDSA’s Sustainability Deep Dive 2021 (June 9-10) will continue the organization’s mission of inviting industrial designers and business leaders to establish new methodologies in their studios and corporate settings to ensure the ongoing health of our planet and safeguard a sustainable future for all.

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The event also will stay virtual, with tickets starting at just $25 for full and equal access to the live event and the recorded sessions.

The Importance (and Sustainability) of Virtual Sustainable Design Events

“As we are coming out from the pandemic’s grip, we cannot afford to let this once-in-a-century opportunity to make a systemic change pass us by,” says Stephan Clambaneva, IDSA, Sections Director on IDSA’s Board of Directors. “We are going to see more technological advancement in these next 10 years than in the previous 50. But we need a balanced approach: a people-planet-profit approach ensuring a measurable triple bottom line.”

Grouphug Window Solar Charger and box ( Krystal Persaud, GroupHug Founder and CEO, will present at IDSA’s Sustainability Deep Dive 2021.

Clambaneva and Jason Belaire, IDSA, the current Chair of IDSA’s Board of Directors, served on the content team for the inaugural event focused on sustainable design strategies, processes, and product experiences. Why this Deep Dive has become so important to the design community and the IDSA brand, and why it will continue, according to Belaire, “is that we are at a critical point where we need to be curating real-time, knowledge-based experiences where designers have a safe place to generate conversations around sustainability, circular design, and social impact issues.”

The second Sustainability Deep Dive will expand upon the first’s success, with organizers including Dr. Sasha Alexander, IDSA, Director of the Academic Program of Industrial Design at Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia; Matt Barnes, IDSA, Senior Industrial Designer, Packaging Solutions at Veritiv, Atlanta Design Center; Ethan Smith, IDSA, freelance designer focused on regenerative strategy; and Shruti Parikh, IDSA, Associate Director, Product Development at Takeda in the Greater Boston area and Vice Chair of IDSA’s Sustainability Section.

Besides virtual events being “easier to scale, more affordable, and more strategic from a data and analytics perspective,” says Parikh, the organizers also found that by reducing costs for all involved and other barriers to access for attendees, such as travel, they could reach audiences they were not reaching before.

2022 BMW ix electric SUV (BMW USA). Daniela Bohlinger, Head of Sustainability at BMW Group Design, will present at IDSA’s Sustainability Deep Dive 2021.

Virtual events like the Sustainability Deep Dive, “will color future decision-making and influence new opportunities for co-design and thoughtfulness in collaboration in all ventures,” says Dr. Alexander. For example, virtual conferences over the past year allowed academic staff at Western Sydney University “to redirect all usual conference attendance funding towards students-in-need during the pandemic with no local family and no means of alternate support. A small but impactful gesture so they could continue their studies even in lockdown.”

Dr. Alexander adds that this Deep Dive in particular reminds him “that the future is about people and how well we harness and build upon trusted relationships in responding to life challenges collectively. The interconnections and interdependencies bring responsibility and reward.”

Introducing the Presenters

The emcees for this year’s event are Kevin Bethune, founder and Chief Creative Officer of dreams • design + life, and Sayeh Dastgheib-Beheshti, IDSA, Chair of the IDSA-Toronto Chapter, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of a Silicon Valley start-up currently in stealth mode, and a researcher focused on sustainability.

“In this Deep Dive, designers can get insights into new ways of thinking about resource use, resilience, and social justice to help them create better solutions for their own challenges,” Dastgheib-Bahesti says.

“I am looking forward to hearing Chandra Farley speak about the social justice aspect of energy equity, since often sustainability is framed only as a material usage issue,” she notes. “I am also looking forward to Louise Manfredi‘s presentation on bridging the gap between how sustainability is taught in higher education and the expectations of industry in hiring designers for creating sustainable products.”

The Sustainability Deep Dive 2021 speaker lineup also includes:

· Daniela Bohlinger, Head of Sustainability at BMW Group Design, on “Sustainability as the Driver of Change”

· Al Iannuzzi, Ph.D., Vice President, Sustainability at The Estée Lauder Companies, on “The Making and Marketing of Sustainable Brands”

· Kelsey Moffitt, Senior Industrial Designer at Loop Global, on “Guiding Manufacturers toward the Future of Sustainable Packaging”

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· Christian Engene, Sustainability Lead at Above, on “Design That Addresses Global Challenges”

· Kari Herlevi, Project Director, Circular Economy at Sitra, on “Designing the Waste Out with Circularity”

· Ren DeCherney, Business Development Manager at International Living Future Institute, on “The Living Product Challenge: A Visionary Path for the Future of Products”

· Krystal Persaud, Founder and CEO of Grouphug Solar, on “Design for Dystopia”

· Tim McGee, Founder of LikoLab, with “Life-Centered Design Handbook”

· Theresa Millard, Creative Director, and Jeff Zeman, Principal, of TrueNorth Collective, on “Sustainability Is a Journey—Taking Those First Steps”

The Future of the Sustainable Events

While in-person design conferences in general are expected to return, there is something to be said for sustainability-focused events staying virtual or incorporating a hybrid model to lessen environmental impact. “Personally, I’d like to see a hybrid of both options in conferences moving forward,” says Matt Barnes, one of this year’s Sustainability Deep Dive organizers. “Technology provides the opportunity for these events to continue to have a virtual arm, allowing engagement both in audience and virtually from home/office.”

Le Labo handcrafted fragrances are sold in refillable glass bottles (The Estée Lauder Companies’ 2020 Citizenship and Sustainability Report). Al Iannuzzi, Ph.D., VP, Sustainability at The Estée Lauder Companies, will present at IDSA’s Sustainability Deep Dive 2021.

For four hours each day on June 9 and 10, 2021, you can join IDSA’s Sustainability Deep Dive from wherever you are in the world for networking, knowledge exchange, and building a better future with other sustainability-focused designers.

Sponsored by Indeed and Pepsico, IDSA’s Sustainability Deep Dive 2021 will take place on June 9 & 10 (4 hours each day). Learn more and register for the live event and recorded sessions at

Interested in supporting this event or other IDSA events? Contact Carrie Green.

Source: core77

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