THE DESIGNERS ACCORD

HAPPENING

Hello, everyone. This is YOSH from “greenz“.

The year 2008 should be the year of unprecedented change with the presidential election in the US and the global financial crisis. Even the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit and the beijing olympic games seem like remote events. We now hear “Kyoto Protocol” in everyday conversations but it only became fully effective since this April. For designers, there was also news that can have a great influence on design. Today, I would like to discuss “The Designers Accord (DA)”.Designers Accord

DA was started by design company IDEO’s executive member Valerie Casey‘s idea. DA is a loose accord on sustainability among designers. Advisory board members include, IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown, a keyperson of green design and consultant Marc Alt whom I had a chance to meet in New York, and Paul Hawken who is a social entrepreneur and the author of Natural Capitalism.

Designers Accord


In order to join the DA, you need to promise to follow several guidelines. Then your name will be listed on the Designers’ Directory. There is only one Japanese company, Markuz Design Works, but more companies are interested in joining. greenz will be covering the news from Destination 2024 in December to promote DA in Japan. If you are interested, please contact us.

5 Guidelines.

These are 5 guidelines for design companies.

1. Publicly declare participation in the Designers Accord.

2. Initiate a dialogue about environmental and social impact and sustainable alternatives with each and every client. Rework client contracts to favor environmentally and socially responsible design and work processes. Provide strategic and material alternatives for sustainable design.

3. Undertake a program to educate your teams about sustainability and sustainable design.

4. Consider your ethical footprint. Begin by measuring thecarbon/greenhouse gas footprint of your firm, and pledge to reduce your footprint annually.

5. Advance the understanding of environmental and social issues from a design perspective by actively contributing to the communal knowledge base for sustainable design.

To sum up the above, I would like to mention these three points. (1) Consider design process with sustainability. (2) Measure the impact on environment and reduce the impact. (3) Share your knowhow on sustainability with other designers and companies.

(1) is to step up the approach that Mark was also insisiting. It tells the importance of a collaborative commitment for reform between industry and designers. It seems difficult, but by doing so achievements of sustainability can accelerate.

(2) it is important to know what your impact is on the environment. Greenz also works on carbon offsets. It works as in-company training as well. It helps to bring about changes in attitudes toward sustainability. Websites like Carbon PASS can be useful to start with.

Designers Accord

(3) brought a new phase to the design industry. The beta version of website was launched last October, and IDEO and OFfam posted the concept making ethical consumption case studies including the sustainable package design done together by IDEO and adobe. In addition, there have been constructive conversations on topics such as “What are the most harmful consumer behaviors?” in the forum.

It is true that there is not enough time left to handle the impending climate change crisis. But, DA makes clear that sustainability should be considered by all designers and it should be understood as a basic knowledge. Therefore, knowledge about susainability should be shared under the concept of open source as well. Competition should only take place over creative insights and graphic modes. It questions designers of following the previous generation regarding what to hide and what to open and share in these changing times.

Designers Accord

Overcoming designer’s dilemma.

DA will gain momentum from now. But, what DA does is to provide help for designers who struggle to know what is really happening on design and designers in this age of sustainability. The background is that the originator, Valerie, also used to struggle with the dilemma that we also have.

I would like you to read the statement “The Designer’s Dilemma” written by Valerie. This is indeed an important statement of DA. If you notice any familiar points, it is where you can also start with.

“The designer’s dilemma is the tension that exists in the space between inventing and improving.”

“So in this time of transformation, when new thinking is so critical, why are designers at a standstill? Why has design not been at the forefront of this movement with new solutions and roadmaps for change? In many ways, the green movement is threatened by the prevailing mentality in design today – one that equates sustainability with stasis, and collaboration with mimicry.”

“In the same way that we approach design challenges – not by purporting to have all of the answers, but instead by assuredly asking the right questions – we must recognize that we don’t have the solution yet because our formula has been wrong. Our addiction to sweeping change has hobbled us from seeing the most obvious opportunities for improvement. In order to create a radical position around sustainability, we need to change our concept of design. Our first green products must be ourselves.”

“But now we are not dealing with competitors, we are elbow-to-elbow with people who share our ethic, and to engage in the traditional competitive stance would be counterproductive. In a world where everything is connected and we all share common goals, how do we satisfy our deep instinct to create a unique position for ourselves? We need a new strategy.”

“Everything we know is inverted. Everything we rested our beliefs on is cast in a new light. Change happens fast, and we need to act quickly. We are revisiting our practices, our methods, and our philosophies. We are talking to each other. We are leaving our egos behind.”

Text: YOSH from greenz
Translation: Masanori Sugiura

[Help wanted] Inviting volunteer staff / pro bono for contribution and translation. Please e-mail to us.
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