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Sustainable future is made of design

Author: Mehdi Oveisi – Founder & Managing Director DCA Design Consulting Associates

If people would design the products like carpets, furniture, factories and cities more intelligently from the beginning, things like waste, pollution or shortage would be unnecessary.

Here we can talk about the ecodesign, the design conception trained on the ecological problem thus breaks away from the object-orientedness in ecodesign and sees the commodity in the context of society as a whole.

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At the same time, culture is a socio-political necessity, as it contributes to social cohesion and promotes social progress by encouraging critical reflection, communicating visions and providing impulses.

And there is a growing realization that in many areas we cannot continue as before, that a comprehensive cultural change toward greater sustainability is needed, the success of which depends on visions of a good future that harmonize with nature.

We have limited resources at our disposal and this is where the implementation of sustainable management begins. We will start our sustainable consumption education early, already in kindergarten, to learn to respect the nature in which we live and train the youth to consciously use recyclable and reusable materials.

Whether we wear sustainable fashion, eat organic and preferably local food, travel more or less by public transport – these are choices that show how we act in terms of sustainability.
Fortunately, there are companies that are trying to lead a new way by taking a stand and incorporating sustainable practices into their work cycles.

Sustainability can mean many things and includes several parameters that can be adjusted to promote sustainable production by companies. This can be the use of recycled or natural materials or even the use of residual materials. It can also include sustainable production, environmentally friendly without harmful chemicals works.

The increasing focus on sustainability, ethical production and alternative materials ensures that the development in the field is great. Residual materials from another company, for example in the wood industry or the plastics industry, are used to a greater extent, so the amount of waste is also lower.

In addition, a lot of research is being done to find alternative materials, such as those made from plant fibers or otherwise derived from plant and animal life. Or materials that can be produced overall without the use of many resources or only natural resources that do not overburden the environment.

The circular economy model brings not only ecological but also economic benefits. Numerous studies show that in addition to saving resources and contributing to climate protection, new jobs are created above all.

In 2016, more than 700 million m2 of carpet was produced and placed on the market in Europe. The production of this huge amount of carpet has a significant impact on the environment not only during manufacture but also in the disposal phase after the product’s end of life. In Europe, approximately 1.6 million tons of old carpets are disposed of each year, 400,000 tons of which in Germany alone.

High-quality recycling of carpets already exists today, albeit in small quantities. This shows that technological solutions are available. At the same time, however, the recyclability of the goods placed on the market and the collection and recycling infrastructure must be improved.

The implementation of the above points will not be feasible overnight but must start today. Due to the long product life of carpeting of up to 20 years, decisions made today will affect the reuse and recycling of carpeting for years to come. (Swept under the carpet – Deutsche Umwelthilfe eV, 2017)

The development of closed material loops in the carpet industry requires joint efforts of manufacturers, retailers, policy makers and consumers. In the following, possibilities will be shown how the path to a successful circular economy can be taken:

– Consideration of reuse and recyclability in product design – High reuse and recycling rates
– Comprehensive and consumer-friendly take-back system – Establishment of recycling capacities
– Clear labeling of product materials

At the latest since Victor Papanek’s 1970 work Design for the real world, the discipline of design has taken up this aspect and supported companies, organizations and social groups of all kinds. Irrespective of this, he is only concerned with whether designs comply with the “KISS principle” (“Keep it Simple, Stupid”) and the guideline “Form follows User” (the form is based on the user) in addition to meeting social requirements.

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The UN Agenda for Sustainable Development (The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, UN Agenda 2030) for environmental protection and development policy. They are more than the appeal to do something against resource consumption and exploitation in the so-called Third World. They are the expression of all people and all states for the preservation of our planet and to ensure decent living everywhere.

Goal 9 is very important for our industry: Promote infrastructure, industrialization and innovations
Industry and infrastructure should be made fit for the future through intelligent and resource-saving technologies. In this way, jobs can be created and prosperity generated. Access to information, financial markets and world trade is crucial for economic development in our globalized world.

Goal 12: Shape consumption and production patterns sustainably
Our planet has only limited resilience. To be able to live well in the future, we need to change our consumption and production techniques. One building block for this is rules for the use of limited resources, for occupational safety, health protection and environmental protection.

“The crisis is at the same time and opportunity to look at our own history in a more critical light and to finally come to terms with what has been fatally suppressed. The design of the modern world demands a more conscious approach to things and facts of everyday life – a New Objectivity.”
We want to shape the future together; we can only succeed in the great transformation by acting sustainably.

Sources: Unter den Teppich gekehrt – Deutsche Umwelthilfe eV, 2017. 1. “Philosophy for designers”, Florian Arnold, avedition

About Author:

Mehdi Oveisi is (Master of Arts Textile Design) an experienced textile and product designer from various industries Textile and fashion brands (including Ploucquet Textiles and Sympatex Technologies) and the automotive industry (Racemark International) for high-quality transportation interiors, especially in the field of floor coverings, have been active in this sector for more than 16 years.

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