The evolution of the Strategic role of Designers for Sustainable Development
Design for Sustainable Development refers to the application of a design process to solve a problem related to sustainability, such as creating a pair of shoes that can be recycled or managing waste collection in a large city. Since the origins of this concept in the 1960s, Design for Sustainable Development has been evolving, gradually broadening its scope over time from the design of products to the design of services, business models and wider ecosystems. In this evolution, designers have come closer and closer to business problems, thus becoming more strategic. In this paper, we explore this evolution from a business perspective. We visualize it into a framework and interview eight academic experts about the Strategic role of Designers for Sustainable Development. We find that the evolution can be framed around five topics: the strategic goal of designers, and their related perspective, language, key activities and main challenge. After discussing how the evolution took place around each topic, we draw implications for designers and managers who are willing to play an active role in the transition towards sustainable development.
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