Systemic design or circular design (Radio column)

This article is complementary to our column on the Québec Réveille radio show on CKIA hosted by Marjorie Champagne.

Details are not details, they make the design of a product. — Charles Eames

We are all quite familiar with the concept of a product's lifetime of programmed obsolescence or recycling. Thanks to widespread environmental awareness, today we expect the products we use to meet very strict standards in order to have as little impact on the environment as possible, however we usually never go into the design of the product, what about all the work done before the product life cycle begins?

Let's take the example of an everyday product: a spoon. A spoon meets very simple needs. When looking at a spoon, we take for granted that it was designed according to certain standards and that it has a low impact on the environment considering that it can be used almost infinitely and that it is impossible to program the obsolescence of a simple spoon.

But this spoon was designed somewhere. Where does the metal to make it come from? Under what conditions was the metal extracted? In what geopolitical context? Were the workers who extracted the metal well equipped? Were they well paid? Were there children working in the spoon factory? What are the social and environmental impacts of the spoon? These are all questions that systemic design answers. Systems design takes into account all the elements beyond the life cycle of a product. It is about conscious design and taking all factors into account.

Factors that are not taken into consideration

There are many social and environmental impacts related to the design and creation of a simple spoon. The principle also applies to all products, both physical and digital.

Take the case of AirBnB. It is an application that was designed by three young developers with the sole purpose of helping them pay their rents, however the cumulative effects of the growth of AirBnB has had disastrous consequences on the devitalization of city centers caused by mass tourism to the point that several states around the world have taken measures to prevent the multiplication of housing that is intended to be rented for this type of purpose only. of application. However, the problems are not limited to this, there is also a soaring mortgage rate, the social classes are dividing, there is a shortage of housing, and there is a very important urban sprawl. The developers of the application had no bad intentions. They simply did not take into account the systemic design.

Thinking about everything is impossible, but by decompartmentalizing disciplines, it is possible to have a broader view of a wider range of problems and to take more elements into account during development. Now that we are aware of the excesses of certain fields, systemic design should be at the forefront of all entrepreneurs.

To illustrate this failure to consider data, let's take the example of SUVs. On average, it takes a car manufacturer 5 to 10 years to develop a new vehicle model. A vehicle will remain active for an average of 15 years with the manufacturer. Designers therefore have a lot of time to collect data in order to improve or simply stop manufacturing a model. We know that large vehicles increase friction on the road, which increases tire consumption, the frequency of road work, energy dependency, etc. Yet, SUV sales continue to grow. As consumers, we feel that an SUV is safer. Yet SUVs kill more people every year than other types of vehicles. If we had all this information, our consumption choices would be different.

How much does e-commerce cost?

Do not be fooled, to get away with it today in e-commerce, you need to plan a fairly large basic investment. It may seem counter-intuitive to invest when finances are bad, but it is a question of the survival of the company. And the longer you wait, the more it costs. All the market shares that are not taken today on the web will be difficult to access in the future.

The investment is comparable to buying a new car. Once the car is chosen, you have to choose the options, well a digital transformation is pretty much the same, once the digital platform is chosen, there are several other areas of expenditure to take into account in our advertising envelope, which raises the bill to $45,000 on average.

What can we do as designers?

Pessimists will say that it is utopian to believe in systemic design. But open-minded and curious people will tell you that we have already started this shift. The crisis provoked by the global pandemic is pushing us to review our consumption processes, as we have seen in the Quebec region where many people are consuming much more locally than before and/or we have seen the emergence of systems that aim to sustain the local economy. As the purchasing power of consumers has decreased, they make more informed choices and think more carefully before making purchases. We have seen many vegetable gardens being created in the homes of people who had a garden. Systemic design is everywhere, from local purchasing to the top of growing vegetables, as long as the systemic loop is triggered it is up to us to decide how far we want to go.

Thinking about everything is impossible, but by decompartmentalizing disciplines, it is possible to have a broader view of a wider range of problems and to take more elements into account during development. Now that we are aware of the drifts in certain fields, systemic design should be at the forefront of all entrepreneurs.

To illustrate this failure to consider data, let's take the example of SUVs. On average, it takes a car manufacturer 5 to 10 years to develop a new vehicle model. A vehicle will remain active for an average of 15 years with the manufacturer. Designers therefore have a lot of time to collect data in order to improve or simply stop manufacturing a model. We know that large vehicles increase friction on the road, which increases tire consumption, the frequency of road work, energy dependency, etc.. Yet, SUV sales continue to grow. As consumers, we feel that an SUV is safer. Yet SUVs kill more people every year than other types of vehicles. If we had all this information, our consumption choices would be different.

What can we do as designers?

Pessimists will say it's utopian to believe in systemic design. But open-minded and curious people will tell you that we've already started this shift. The crisis provoked by the global pandemic is pushing us to review our consumption processes, as we have seen in the Quebec region where many people are consuming much more locally than before and/or we have seen the emergence of systems that aim to sustain the local economy cf. As consumers' purchasing power has decreased, they make more informed choices and think more carefully before making purchases. We have seen the birth of many vegetable gardens in the homes of people who had a garden. Systemic design is everywhere, from local purchasing to the top of growing vegetables, as long as the systemic loop is triggered it is up to us to decide how far we want to go.

❤️ For a Better World for People

Laure Gabrielle

Comments

Ready to streamline your interface review process?

Try Capian for free