Circular Design Series

Since its inception, the Circular Design Series has had one simple aim: to engage the design community. That, of course, belies the scale and scope of the challenge at hand. Moving away from a linear, take-make-waste system into a circular economy is anything but simple. And part of the challenge – systematic change aside – is the language around it.

The Circular Design Series is part of the Global Design Forum in partnership with SAP.

“It is easy to get lost in the definitions,” says Stephen Jamieson, Global Head of Circular Economy Solutions at SAP, “but there’s no debate on the need for a solution. We all understand the criticality of this. We want to engage the world's 160 million designers in the thinking, the tools, and collaboration necessary in order for us to find circular, sustainable, and regenerative solutions.” 

Crucial to creating a positive impact and bringing leaders within business, technology, design and law in a meaningful way is a general alignment when it comes to the nature of the challenge and the solutions. “Lots of innovation is good, but lots of innovation that is unguarded, and without direction and purpose can lead to greater chaos and unintended consequences,” explains Jamieson. 

“How we align on the kind of the common destination is key. Fortunately, there's a lot of good work happening in the policy space to help that, but I think as the design community there's a role to play there in terms of helping to really accelerate that further.” 

“As a species,” he adds, “we are pulling out of the ground, we are moving, we are manufacturing, we are ultimately disposing of 100 billion tonnes of material each year. Every tonne of that material is designed. And only 9% of that is recycled.” explains Jamieson. The silver lining? “Every step of that process – every material selection and creation – is a design decision.”   

“What has been most inspiring about this programme is the level, and quality, and the extent to which people are leaning into the topic,” reflects Jamieson. “People understand the criticality of this. There's no debate on the need for a solution. And I feel like we're well on the way now.”