On the advanced course, the Ecology field of teaching links questions concerning materials and technology with environmental aspects of product design. The topics are elaborated as independent semester papers or as a supplement to projects assigned by design professors.
Methods and tools for cycle-based product design
At the interface to the consumer/customer, product design is charged with the task of developing concepts that increase sales for new, technologically more or less innovative commodities. At the same time, these tasks are flanked by the ecological imperatives of re-duce, re-use & re-cycle. Sustainable use of materials and energy in product manufacture, as well as in product use and disposal, has to be taken into account here, alongside global dangers such as threats to the climate, rainforests, polar ice, oceans, etc. Transparency and information on resources used, conditions of manufacture and realistic options for the disposal of products then serve to communicatively support environmentally aware consumption. All of these wishes and demands can be brought into line only to a certain extent and – when they are taken seriously – are inevitably laden with conflicts. Quantitative growth will remain the most important global prosperity driver for the foreseeable future. Driven by economic criteria, access to energies and raw materials takes place via markets and politics and as such in cases of conflict concern for the environment and future generations is generally set aside. It is precisely innovations that save raw materials and energy that are placing increasingly high qualitative demands on materials and that often make the re-use or continued use of outdated components unattractive and uneconomical.
Effective design in a positive ecological sense does not just reflect on these relationships, but focuses its formal outcomes on, for example, new production processes and product concepts that show a special potential for cycle-based substance flows and a more sustainable use of resources.
Which specific options for product design result from this field of tension between growing product diversity and a sustainable economy? Which methods and conceptual tools are to be devised for design with a positive effect on ecology? Which factors of a product profile have ecological relevance and are at the same time open to influence by design (of form, materials, processes)? The seminars in the Ecology field of teaching explore these questions in depth.
Reycicling & Design
Conceptual and practice-oriented research on product design that is suitable for recycling.
Current project (multi-semester): Re-use and continued use of metal medical products (implants and endoprostheses) in collaboration with external partners.