The use of ecodesign strategies and tools: state of the art in industrial design praxis, comparing Australian and German consultancies

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This paper assesses the use of ecologically sustainable design approaches by industrial design (ID) consultancies in Australia and Germany. Whilst much academic research has focussed on the development of ecodesign strategies and tools, it remains unclear to what extent these are actually applied by practitioners. This paper investigates the extent to which design consultancies integrate ecodesign into their services and portfolios and their proactive promotion of sustainable design tools and strategies to their clients. This was achieved through a content analysis of commercial websites of ID consultancies in Australia (n=96) and Germany (n=217). The review criteria included: their general awareness of environmental issues related to product design, the share of ecologically responsible products in their portfolio and the kinds of sustainable design expertise that they advertise. The paper concludes that the majority of ID companies in Germany and in Australia do not appear to actively practice ecodesign. Nevertheless, amongst those that were found to practice ecodesign, a broad range of ecodesign strategies is visible; selection of low impact materials was the most prominent strategy used in Australia while reduction of impact during use was most common in Germany. Industrial design consultancies have significant potential to foster ecodesign implementation. A major barrier for ecodesign appears to be the lack of marketing arguments for ecodesign on the behalf of the consultancies. The legislative framework in Germany, often seen as progressive for ecodesign appears to have minor impact on the extent ID consultancies take up ecodesign.
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Behrisch, Johannes
Ramirez, Mariano Jr
Giurco, Damien
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