1st Edition

Product Design and Sustainability Strategies, Tools and Practice

By Jane Penty Copyright 2020
    376 Pages 325 Color & 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    376 Pages 325 Color & 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    376 Pages 325 Color & 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Whether it is the effects of climate change, the avalanche of electronic and plastic waste or the substandard living and working conditions of billions of our fellow global citizens, our ability to deal with unsustainability will define the twenty-first century. Given that most consumption is mediated through products and services, the critical question for designers is: How can we radically reshape these into tools for sustainable living? 

    As a guide and reference text, Product Design and Sustainability provides design students, practitioners and educators with the breadth and depth needed to integrate the most appropriate sustainable strategies into their practice. It establishes the principles that underpin sustainability and introduces a diverse range of social, economic and environmental design responses and tools available to designers. The numerous real-world examples illustrate how these strategies play out in different product sectors and reinforce the view that sustainability is the most positive opportunity and creative challenge facing designers today.

    This book: 

    • delivers a comprehensive guide to the principles of sustainability and how they apply to product design that can readily be integrated into curricula and design practice
    • reveals many of the issues specific product sectors are facing, and provides the depth and breadth needed for formulating and developing sustainable design strategies to address these issues
    • empowers and inspires designers to engage with sustainability through its many examples and insightful interviews with practitioners
    • is fully illustrated with over 300 photographs, graphs and diagrams and supported by chapter summaries, annotated further reading suggestions, and a glossary.

    Preface.  Acknowledgements.  Introduction.  Part 1: Concepts and context.  1. Sustainability and design in context.  1.1 Our unsustainability and major threats.  1.2 The concept of sustainability: definitions and models.  1.3 A timeline: design and the sustainability movement.  1.4 Obstacles, challenges and key players for change.  Chapter summary.  Key texts and further reading.  Endnotes.  Part 2: Strategies, tools and approaches.  2. Environmentally led strategies.  2.1 From less bad to better and positive: an overview of approaches.  2.2 Thinking in systems and designing for life cycles.  2.3 Tools and metrics for better design choices.  2.4 Carrot and stick: voluntary, mandatory, regulations and certification.  2.5 Radical rethinks: low tech and old tech.  Chapter summary.  Key references and further reading.  Endnotes.  3. Socially led strategies.  3.1 Overconsumption: shifting the consumer society through behaviour change.  3.2 Better products and real needs: human centred and socially responsible design.  3.3 The other 70%: design for the base of the pyramid.  3.4 Ethics & sustainability: design as a tool for change. Chapter summary and key design challenges.  Key references and further reading.  Endnotes.  4. Economically led strategies.  4.1 Introduction to economy and sustainability.  4.2 The rise of more responsible business.  4.3 Emerging business models: the collaborative economy.  4.4 Emerging business models: open design and distributed production.  4.5 Emerging business models: the circular economy.  Chapter summary.  Key references and further reading. Endnotes.  Part 3: In practice.  5. Short-use products: packaging, consumables and disposables.  5.1 In the balance: pros and cons of Consumer Packaged Goods.  5.2 Key re-design strategies.  Chapter summary.  Endnotes.  6. Electronic tools and digital gateways.  6.1 the visible and invisible environmental impacts of the digital world.  6.2 design strategies for reducing the environmental impacts of electronic devices.  6.3 the social value of digital tools.  Chapter summary.  Endnotes.  7. Furniture and space related products.  7.1 Furniture trends and their sustainability implications.  7.2 Problematic materials and toxicity.  7.3 Design strategies for more sustainable furniture.  Chapter summary.  Endnotes.  8. Transportation and mobility: products and services.  8.1 The environmental, social and economic impacts of transportations and mobility.  8.2 Design for more sustainable transport modes.  8.3 Systems thinking: new technologies and business models for mass personalised mobility.  Chapter summary.  Endnotes.  Conclusion.  Glossary.  Index.


    Jane Penty is a designer and educator focused on the creative challenge of transforming how and what we consume into tools for sustainable living. She is Sustainable Design Leader for BA Product Design at Central Saint Martins, UAL, London, UK.

    "For anyone fatigued by the term "sustainability," Jane Penty breaths vitality back into the word—expanding its purview and animating its potential. Traversing multiple disciplines from material culture and artificial intelligence, to business frameworks, ethics, and social innovation, Jane Penty's Product Design and Sustainability may be the single most effective compendium for simultaneously defining a contemporary understanding of sustainability while providing an actionable toolkit for its practice. Required reading for design professionals, educators, and students; essential reading for anyone who needs to believe that we can find a way forward."

    Allan Chochinov, Chair, SVA MFA Products of Design, NY; Partner, Core77

    "A book that is timely and urgently needed - revisiting the complex and fast-evolving relationships between design, consumption, economics and technology at a pivotal moment. Product Design and Sustainability will help answer questions we all have as designers, and help further close the gap between the work that we do and our lived experience of the world."

    Hugo Jamson, Creative Director, New Territory, London

    "Far from the tired, doom and gloom rhetoric peddled by so many academics on this topic, Penty’s hopeful treatise lights the way toward a sustainable design future. Her clear and precise theoretical writing is further elucidated by a rich repertoire of case studies, methodological tools and practical examples. This important book will surely become an essential point of reference for anyone working at the intersections of design, sustainability and systems change."

    Jonathan Chapman, Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

    "A wonderfully comprehensive real-world guide through the maze of sustainability for anyone involved in new product creation. It manages to be both rigorous and pragmatic in equal measure and is the perfect starting point for designers, students and academics."

    Alex Hulme, director, Map Project Office, London

    "Through a very accessible yet profound work, Jane Penty reminds us that product designers can play a major role in the transition to a more sustainable and meaningful tomorrow. For a whole new generation of designers ready and mobilised to engage on this course of action, this book offers a valuable tool to inform their thinking and practice."

    Anne Marchand, Professor of Product Design, School of Design, Université de Montréal

    "Product Design and Sustainability is a resource primed for designers to tackle wicked global problems they are increasingly required to help solve. Penty sets the scene of humanity's 'unsustainability' from a vast body of knowledge, identifying practical environmental, economic and social levers for designers to use in response. Real world examples then contextualise frameworks that are life cycle based; systemic; efficiency-led; regenerative; regulatory; socially equitable; circular; and economically transformative, to assist designers in reorienting their practice to be sustainability-driven." 

    Simon Lockrey, Senior Lecturer, RMIT University, Executive Director, Glowpear, Melbourne

    "Jane Penty’s book is a well-informed and engaging overview of the dramatic material challenges of our contemporary world we live in, as well as a useful and practical guide as to how design tools, methods and practice can be used to drive change."

    Clare Brass, designer, circular economy expert and director, Department 22, London

    "In a world where doomsday scenarios paint alarming pictures while designers work on the next new trend, Jane Penty’s voice is calm and points to a better world through design. She asks the difficult question - what problems are we solving and how? Product Design and Sustainability calls upon us to be conscious and responsible designers and shows us how. The mix of carefully put together information, insightful analysis, detailed examples and design strategy is valuable for both the student and practitioner of design. It is comprehensive and covers several design disciplines and their intersections." 

    Naga Nandini, Industrial Arts and Design Practices, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore