The Designers Accord and sustainable design

The newest trend in design is anything related to sustainability and helping others, which is a very good thing. A few years ago I volunteered with an NGO in Thailand, providing refuge and vocational training to women, and have since volunteered my time to a few organizations in the US. I love helping people, and would love to use my design expertise to help those in need. I think designers have so much potential to have a profound effect on the world, and as long as we are paired up with the right team (i.e. social workers, international NGO’s) great work can be accomplished. However, there needs to be collaboration between these distinct fields in order for constructive change to happen. This is the intent of Valerie Casey, who founded The Designers Accord. The Designers Accord is a coalition of designers, educators and business leaders who adopt the five guidelines of the accord to agree to incorporate sustainability into their work.


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. Understand the environmental impact of your firm, and work to measure, manage, and reduce it on an annual basis.

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

The most recent case study on the site is on Vers, a wooden sound system.  The product designers conducted a hands-on sustainable material selection process, implemented an 100:1 tree-replanting program, and incorporated an integrated take-back system for responsible e-waste recycling.

This is a great example of design that improves lives: FLAP – A shoulder bag conceived to help nomadic people in urbanizing places, by providing them with an integrated solar-powered light and the potential to charge electronic devices, shows how iteration can prepare a bold design for the market. From Design Observer

Published by Elizabeth Pizzuti

Design, art, and cats mostly

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