Circular Cards Workshop

This study aims to create a tool to educate students and designers to design for the CE and to test the Circular Design Cards with students empirically. The Circular Design Cards are intended as an enabler to better understand the links between different design strategies on multiple levels that might be employed in the ideation phases. Based on this overall objective, a systematic literature review was performed to identify publications offering insights on design strategies for the CE.

SystemSystem is related to the bigger picture. Designers in this category work in the macro area and design multiple flows of designers in complex domains. In this category, the designer can interlink various design approach with the whole.
MaterialMaterials are a key aspect to consider when designing for the CE. The understanding of how materials can enable circularity is fundamental for designers, especially the difference between technical and biological materials. In this category, the designer should define how and where the “Material” flow should be recaptured to start a new flow.
BusinessIn the CE, through an appropriate business, it is easier to keep control of the product. In this category, the designer should relate the business model with the way, products are designed in order to guarantee the reliability and the longest product lifetime possible.
DesignDesign is a broader category that encloses specific strategies related to engineering and product design for the entire product lifetime. In this category, the designer should aggregate different design approach to facilitate the reuse, refurbishing, remanufacturing, recycling of the product.

The Circular Design Cards consists of a deck of 30 cards focused on different design strategies to support decision-making for the CE. The cards are not meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive of the myriad of possible design decisions. It is, however, an instrument from which the design team can start developing their design strategies, from a defined set of significant provocations.

The cards can be used to:
• Guide, inspire and create awareness towards sustainability in design processes;
• Frame and bring to life processes and strategies for sustainable thinking;
• Communicate knowledge and values to external stakeholders
• Create a shared understanding of cross-disciplinary teams;
• Reflect on and re-examine existing processes or strategies to identify new opportunities.

On Monday the 7th of February 2018, the Circular Design Cards were tested through a one-day workshop with an MBA class at the European Institute of Design in Venice. The class consisted of interdisciplinary students from different backgrounds. Students were divided into two groups of five people each. Based on a design brief, each group developed a concept for a possible sustainable museum for the city of Venice. The participants used the circular cards during the workshop to find out possible solutions by combining different design strategies. None of the participants received an introduction to the cards before their use. After the workshop, a survey helped to enhance the level of understanding and engagement of the cards.

The Circular Design Cards represent an effort to articulate reliably and effectively design knowledge and skill competencies for circular designers. It provides a mechanism to stimulate the assessment of circular design competences. This study provides preliminary evidence that the tool is reliable and valid for educational purposes by a modest sample of MBA students with little interest and experience in CE. The deck seems to capture a general level of self-perceived circular competence. With such overlapping complexity, the question arises whether a higher level of detail of this tool is needed. However, it is argued that this minimum level of detail is needed to provide accurate elaboration of the knowledge base and skill competencies that can be useful for those less familiar with circular design practice. Moreover, within circular design courses, cards may help to make distinctions among competencies, whereas for use in industrial environments, it needs evaluation and validation. In examining the circular method cards with MBA students, it has been deducted that the complexity of managing strategies from multiple life cycles is a critical aspect of design. Perhaps it can be related to the educational background of students. However, from the emerged data of this study, method cards represent a helpful approach for developing competence and consolidating knowledge for designers. Participants’ feedback on the tool was generally positive. Some respondents clearly stated that not all the sections of the card were connected, but others stated that the sections were connected and helpful.

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