I came across an interesting sustainable design case study “Nike Considered” on the Design Council website.
The case study uses the pilot re-launch of the Nike Pegasus Shoe to illustrate how the sportswear brand are adopting new sustainable standards as part of their production and approach.
In the 90’s Nike hit a public backlash due to criticism around sustainable production and practice. Through their new “Considered Design” strategy they aim to rethink their practice and process. Under this framework Nike designers were encouraged to integrate sustainable smart materials and processes at the concept stage. This coincides with an earlier report published by the Design Council which argues that 80% of environmental impacts are a result of decisions made at the concept stage of the design process.
Nike sought consultancy from the Natural Step, a non profit organisation who are dedicated to promoting sustainable practice and research. This collaboration has allowed Nike to integrate the Natural Step Framework into their design process and adopt a more sustainable approach by considering the problem, response and result from the frameworks perspective. This has allowed Nike to measure the products overall impact on the environment and identify further opportunities to tackle sustainability.
This case study only tackles one area and Nike claim to be exploring further alternatives such as biodegradable materials and design for diss-assembly. They are in the process of designing and developing a tool to allow their designers to become agents of change within the company. This tool is titled the “Considered Index” and rates the overall carbon footprint of a design prior to production. The purposed tool aims to make designers aware of the environmental consequences of their design decisions and promote the most sustainable solutions.
In the case study Nike’s President and CEO Mark Parker states: “We are designing for the sustainable economy of tomorrow and for us that means using fewer resources, more sustainable products and renewable energy to produce new products.”
I think this is an interesting way of evidencing a sustainable argument in a measurable format. Sustainability is such a large field of enquiry and as designers it can be very difficult to navigate around this field. Within my practice and research I try to identify the most sustainable solutions where possible and I would welcome a tool that would allow me to quantify these solutions to evaluate how sustainable they really are.
Visit the Design Council Website to read the full case study.