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Preliminary Results Testing What Different Design Solutions Arise from Different Sustainable Design Methods

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2019

Jeremy Faludi*
Dartmouth College;
Omar Ali
American University of Beirut;
Ola Srour
American University of Beirut;
Selim Mecanna
American University of Beirut;
Rami Kamareddine
University of Balamand
Tejaswini Chatty
Dartmouth College;


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Do different sustainable design methods generate different sustainable design ideas? Do they also drive different product innovation ideas? This project empirically tested three design methods: The Natural Step, Whole System Mapping, and Biomimicry. Testing involved qualitatively categorizing 1,115 design ideas from 23 workshops for over 30 companies, including consultancies and manufacturers in consumer electronics, furniture, and apparel. The categorized ideas were then counted to determine if the different design methods caused different kinds of ideas. They did. For example, The Natural Step drove more ideas on green material choice, circular end of life, and social impacts, while Biomimicry drove more durability ideas and Whole System Mapping drove more cost reduction ideas, among other differences. Overall, The Natural Step generated the highest percentage of sustainability ideas, Biomimicry generated the most innovation ideas, and Whole System Mapping generated a balance of both. These preliminary results should help designers and engineers choose design methods suited to the types of design solutions they desire.

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© The Author(s) 2019


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