Circular Product Design towards 2030

In this one-day workshop at the Rochester Institute of Technology (US, NY), I conducted research to understand how best to adapt the Google Design Sprint to the principles of the circular economy for a vision towards 2030.

From the previous experience in the workshop “Towards 2050 – Design for the Circular Economy” I have learned that the Google design Sprint methodology has limitations in terms of designing circular products towards 2050. One of the most significant problems is that the methodology does not it is appropriate for developing radical new projects that go beyond what the user wants. While this was a fundamental aspect of the research, namely designing user-centric products, some of the workshop activities were too user-restricted.

For this reason, I needed to test some activities that made participants understand the concept of designing for multiple product life cycles, opening up to a long-lasting view of the product.

This workshop was therefore considered a preparation for a week-long workshop at the Iuav University of Venice which was to be held after a few months. After introducing some fundamental aspects of circular economy design to eight students from the industrial design department, I asked them to rethink what problems an e-toothbrush company was facing in the near future.

To overcome the problems listed above, I have proposed three new activities:
STEP 1: Define the problem by looking at the Whole System;
STEP 2: Define how many loops the product must re-enter within the system;
STEP 3: Define the circular recovery strategies for each product life cycle;
STEP 4: Define the reference target for each possible life cycle of the product.

Apart from the first one, for all the other steps new activities have been designed to help participants reflect on how to design circular products that users want.

Due to the short time available, about eight hours, the participants were not able to prototype the product as it always happens in the Google Design Sprint, but through sketches and project drawings they were able to reflect on how to create a possible circular toothbrush for 2030.

Although this workshop was just a test to understand the application and integration of alternative activities to the Google Design Sprint sequence, the participants expressed satisfaction in attending the workshop.

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