Developing sustainable design at a global level

University of Brighton researcher, Dr Jonathan Chapman, speaks at PumaVision event on Sustainable Design.Image: Dr Jonathan Chapman speaks at the PumaVision Sustainability event. Photo: Marc Sethi

Work by University of Brighton Faculty of Arts researcher Dr Jonathan Chapman into sustainable design processes, and the thinking behind them, is set to have a global impact.

The research, featured in a series of events held at international sports brand Puma’s London headquarters, are part of an on-going, creative collaboration with the company through its PumaVision initiative that aims to provide a “real and practical” vision on environmental and social issues.

Entitled, ‘The Puma Sustainable Design Collective’ (PSDC), this event-based network stimulated essential debate, learning and knowledge exchange between practicing designers, and specialists in sustainable design thinking. Devised and hosted by Dr Chapman, these evening events were designed to generate a deeper understanding of the relationships between the social, ecological and economic impact of the products and systems used in design.

Throughout PSDC, participants were introduced to over 50 ‘ways of working’ that enhance the ecological performance of their products, processes and thinking. These ranged from some fairly technical tools and methods such as ‘zero waste pattern cutting’ or designing for ‘low chemical impacts’, through to psychological tools such as ‘object as educator’ or ‘emotional durability’. Represented by a series of icons, these ‘50-ways’ live on today in the Puma studios.

50 Ways of Thinking & Doing Sustainable Design by University of Brighton researcher, Dr Jonathan Chapman.

Image: 50 Ways icons.

To kick off the PSDC series, Fiona Bennie, Head of Sustainability at Dragon Rouge, talked about the concept of ‘Sustainable Innovation’, whilst giving a head-spinning crash course of the key sustainability issues of our time. The second evening saw the debate driven forcefully ahead, with author and consultant Dr Kate Fletcher’s inspirational evening on ‘Fashioning Sustainability’. Third up was designer and researcher Becky Earley, who described her sustainable designers toolbox called TED’s TEN. Finally, Faculty of Arts designer and lecturer Nick Gant drew the series to a close with a provocative talk and exhibition of exquisite artifacts that explored the role of design as ‘Meaning Making’.

The events were also well attended by individuals from outside of Puma, which further added to the energy and diversity of discussion. These included representatives from IDEO, Seymour Powell, ASOS, Marks & Spencer, Good One, Cos, Dragon Rouge, Adidas, WGSN and many others. The spirit of collaboration and ‘open innovation’ was notable, as participants became one community of learners, collectively engaging within the sustainability space.

PSDC represented a unique opportunity for the guest speakers, and a diverse audience of active participants, to engage directly with Puma’s leading global brand, providing a platform in which their advice and guidance on the issues around sustainability can be discussed, providing participants with the tools, skills and knowledge that will inspire them into implementing change.

A film of the event, edited by Dr Chapman and the project team at Puma, was recently shown at the PumaVision headquarters in Germany during the company’s bi-annual global meeting. Details of the film’s release were also advertised in the company’s global magazine, distributed across their 9,500 employees, worldwide.

The potential impact on international thinking is substantial as Puma is part of the larger, multi-national holding company PPR that owns designer brands including Gucci, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga. The film will feature in PPR’s January newsletter, being sent out to all their companies and employees, providing further exposure to an accessible introduction to the issues, definitions and approaches of sustainable design. In this way, Dr Chapman hopes to promote the film as widely as possible.

Dr Chapman is now in confidential discussions with Puma and PPR on a large three-year project, which if successful, could move the university’s relationship with this global giant to a new level.

The film can be viewed at:

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News item created 06 Nov 2012

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