GDF in New York: The Future of Packaging

In partnership with SAP

Global Design Forum headed to New York with a symposium to discuss ‘The Future of Packaging’.

Part of the Circular Design Series in partnership with SAP, this event opened the conversation on critical thinking around topic of packaging – from plastic use to rethinking the term ‘consumer’. Should we all be considering ourselves as ’citizens’?

The afternoon kicked off with an interactive session at the SAP Experience Centre at Hudson Yards – an experimental space with inspiring circular design innovations like an AI smart mirror, personalised perfume making and digital tagging for fashion.

“I’d like us all to remember, we control the future" said Sian Sutherland, Co-founder of A Plastic Planet and Plastic Free, a materials and systems solution platform. The idea of creatives being at the heart of the issues continued with Cyrill Gutsch’ keynote – “the creative class is actually responsible for the issues we are facing today." He created Parley for the Oceans to make peace, to push the creative community to a material revolution and “not be part of destroying this magnificent blue planet”.

“Design is all about problem solving and problem solving gives us hope” said Ayse Birsel
, Co-founder of innovation design studio Birsel + Seck when discussing how we can create a compelling reason for change. There was examples of evolving packaging stories from Colgate-Palmolive and its recyclable tubes and the possibilities of moulded fibre products were presented by Melissa LaCasse, Co-founder of Tanbark. Meanwhile, SAP’s film She Run the World highlighted three female entrepreneurs in India who are pioneers of urban sustainability by addressing waste management issues. These women are making furniture, walls, flooring and ceilings out of waste and creating sustainable businesses out of this.

Materials aside, the conversation led to the topic of collaboration and the need for this to happen between the system changes to the designers and beyond. “When we were first talking about our first GDF event in NYC, we thought, there are so many panels, and often they are talking to the people who already believe in what’s being said,” said Liz Alessi, the moderator for the sessions and Advanced Sustainability Consultant. “We want the audience to walk away with an action step – go back to your companies and take some action and be that person to make a change.”