This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.
On the first day of SXSW Eco, design experts discussed examples of how creative design makes sustainability easy, cost-effective and beautiful. Moderated by Vince Digneo, sustainability strategist for Adobe Systems, panelists from Frog Design, Building Robotics and Levi Strauss & Co. showcased their innovative approaches to solving problems while making their products, services and consumer experiences better.
Denise Gershbein explained Frog Design’s position: They help their customers with global production design that is long-term and systems focused. She explains that cradle-to-cradle and visionary thinking is at the root of their design consultations, and these are the most important attributes that lead the non-linear design process towards solving complex sustainability problems.
In my view, the most interesting component of the panel was Paul Dillinger’s deep dive into the sustainability-driven design tactics he leads at Levi Strauss. He began with the recognition that the fashion industry has a notoriously bad reputation for being highly wasteful and unsustainable, from the mostly unrecyclable materials through the environment-intense chemicals. This is a result of an industry that is primarily concerned with trend relevancy and valuing consumer needs over the bigger picture of eco-consciousness. There is a trend in ‘eco-fashion’ labels, but he notes that the design and marketing approaches they utilize often only address one issue of a very large and complex system, like focusing solely on the use of organic cotton.
He attributed this shortcoming in the fashion industry to the consideration of environmental constraints as barriers to creativity and freedom of design. But in fact, Dillinger, the company’s head of global production innovation, said he uses these as springboards for innovation and sustainability. He feels that the process of unlocking environmental and social qualities that can be built into pieces of clothing is actually more creatively rewarding, and he has seen firsthand how these attributes can create more business and consumer benefits.Click to continue reading »