Sustainable Design Leaders?

Hi there,

Can anyone tell me the names of product designers or companies that really stand out as exceptional sustainable design leaders. I’m interested in people who are really taking a grounds-up approach similar to the way that Willism McDonough has approached architecture.


interface carpet (service product idea and practice)

and this is a new firm

just curious, what are you looking to do? work with these people?

Nope. I’m just doing some writing on how design research can inform sustainable design and was curious to know who the leaders in sustainable design were that really try to inform a problem by addressing it’s structural cause.


Paul Hawken

the Moderns in NYC…

but in my humble opinion, so long as you have Victor Papanek under your belt, you have all of the sustainability/ design tools you need…

It is much easier to find stuff about sustainability outside ID than in- i.e. business…

I’d take a broader look into the movements that have happened and are happening- sustainibility is as much political as anything else. The valuable thinking will probably come from there more than Design Research (in my humble opinion). Simply more people working on it from other disciplines.

Have you looked at:

Cradle to Cradle,
Design for the Real World (previously mentioned),
No Logo,
The Skeptical Environmentalist,
the Long Now foundation,
the Eternally Yours conferences,
Doors or Perception conferences,
Robert Rubenstein of Brooklyn Bridge
Rolex Awards for Enterprise (past winners)

Good luck.

one more- (Program for appropriate technology in health)

Papanek is a good foundation for sustainable design practice but alot of his views are now outdated. i think the last time he revised design for the real world and the green imperative before he died was about 10 years ago. a leading authority in the sustainable debate is Alastair faud-Luke, you can find some information and contact details here, - is also a good website, its just starting up so there’s not much there just yet.

hope this helps

I don’t agree that Papanek is outdated- he provides fundamental design principles that everyone should know- use less resources, solve a problem in a simple, innovative way. And he can’t do much more than that since he is no longer alive.
His books are so useful for all designers and architects.Required reading.
Another opinion I have is that the environmental movement of the 70’s is a more extreme version of the sustainability movement that is beginning today, and sustainable debaters today are trying to define what is is-- so we as a global population can be more prepared for events like global warming, skyrocketing oil prices, and the skyrocketing human population.

Another book I have come across that has a practical futurist point of view of sustainability is “In the Bubble” by John Thackara. At the “Malfatto” conference in NYC, the author created a bit of controversy by suggesting that nobody should own the products that industrial designers design, because they are used for so little time sitting inside the owner’s homes. I’ll post again once I finish the book!

I just saw Ray Anderson of Interface and David Oakey of Pond Studios speak at an IDSA event in Atlanta last night and these guys appear to be leading the pack in their businesses. They are huge proponents of Sustainability and Biomimicry.

Try designing a better BUV ( Basic Utility Vehicle ) then these people.