Design industry, creating sustainable art & the aftermath of Covid-19

In conversation with Davide Radaelli, Founder, DRDS (Davide Radaelli Design Studio), Milano, Italy

Davide Radaelli, Founder, DRDS

ET-Insights: How can one create an alternative model for design to strike the right balance of art and sustainability?

Davide: It is true that we, as designers, can propose a project suggesting sustainable materials, technologies and solutions to our clients, so we have the chance to do our best for a sustainable product.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that is enough. In my opinion the problems of sustainability are bound to social, cultural, political and economic issues which must be mainly addressed by governments, although entrepreneurs and all of us, as buyers and voters, can play a key role, too.

That said, designing is a process which involves different people at different stages, from the designers to the technical office, right to the design manager, so it is mandatory that all teams share the same sustainable approach. Some eco-friendly design choices may be less cheap than others or they might be bound to process innovations which might require some heavy investments. I think that a sustainable approach needs constant innovation, both on the designer and on the industrial clients’ side. It also requires courage and sometimes the will to accept making lesser profit in order to give a future to our children.

Design could also play a role in the education of the people, by presenting solutions which can, for instance, reduce packaging of those products which are manufactured in huge quantities. At first that might make a package look less rich, but men adapt quite easily to changes and that is how you can create a new standard.

By looking at things in this way, designers can help create new sustainable standards, but they cannot do it alone. Many people stand between the designer and the final product. We need industrial companies to believe in a sustainable approach in product development and support for sustainable products from distributors and retailers. Finally, it’s the buyers who can prove this approach sustainable at 360 degree with their choices.

However, I am still convinced that the key role will be played by a global cultural and political change which could be able to influence industries, induce redesigning of polluting technologies, enact laws about  lifecycle management of industrial products and educate people to shift to sustainable ways of life.

ET-Insights: What is your take on: “Sustainable” – Yet trendy/yet not ugly

Davide: Sustainable is the keyword for our future. It should be implicit in everything. I still can’t see how some people just don’t get it. It’s a matter of logic and compassion. For those who need something to be defined “trendy” by others in order to like it: yes, it is trendy!

ET-Insights: How do you see your profession changing after we bounce back from COVID 19?

Davide: In terms of in-studio business operations, I think that smart working solutions might become more common since they will be widely used and tested in these months, but working together in the same room will still be inevitable to increase productivity in certain key moments of a design process.

I think that the main subject will be how industries recover from this setback. The economic and financial losses have already been heavy. The duration of this crisis will determine how many companies will survive and what their situation will be when we bounce back from COVID19.

ET-Insights: How ready is the infrastructure to face such kind of Pandemics?

Davide: In Italy the pandemics revealed the flaws of the national infrastructures. Not considering the issues related to the healthcare system, which have been put to an extreme test, I think that these pandemics showed how the digital and the logistic infrastructures are tied together and how we must improve them soon. Internet speed must at its possible highest and that is mandatory. In Italy some key websites, either belonging to the government and to private companies, were not easily available because of an excessive web traffic, so that’s another area where there is room for redesign and improvement.

Luckily, the communication technologies are working well and, thanks to some apps and softwares, we are managing to work together with our colleagues and feeling a little less isolated.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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