Circular Design Speed Dating

Good Design Lasts – Circular Design Lasts Longer

On May 9th we had the pleasure to host our second speed dating format – this time about circular design. After the success of the first speed dating event about plastics we were eager to follow up the success with this very important topic. How can we design products in a way that makes them inherently circular, i.e. reusable or recyclable? In order to engage in fruitful discussions, we invited four experts from different backgrounds that all had experience with circular design: Rainer Pamminger for Fairphone, Roswitha Sandwieser for gugler, Dieter Schuch for ARA Circular Design and Peter Knobloch for the centennial washing machine.

The speed dating was started off by Laura Glasberg who quickly introduced the participants to the procedure. They could choose a spot at a table and after 20 minutes there was a Gong where people had to change seats to find a new table. All the while the four presenters stayed at their table to welcome the new guests. The experts started off with short keynotes before opening the discussion. Rainer Pamminger told us about the start of the Fairphone as a student project and the discovery of the inhumane working conditions of many people in the mobile phone value chain that led to the development of the Fairphone. We then were allowed to experience the modularity of this smartphone first-hand by disassembling and reassembling parts of it. Roswitha Sandwieser told us about their experience with circular design as a printing company. She navigated us through their journey towards getting a silver accreditation for cradle to cradle design and the hurdles they had to overcome: like suppliers that did not want to change their processes, developing a glue that is biodegradable or non-toxic ink that could be used in children’s books. Dieter Schuch explained the problems that exist concerning the collection and recycling of packaging waste. The discussion evolved around how to design packaging to make it more circular and how to streamline the collection process by helping consumers to better separate waste streams. Finally, Peter Knobloch showed us how a washing machine that lasts for 100 years could look like. We talked about planned obsolescence and how we can counteract it by making products modular and repairable. The latter part being key, because it is not possible for a product to actually last 100 years without repair. Nevertheless, we can still minimize the environmental impact of making it usable 10 times longer than the usual lifetime of 10 years for a washing machine in the EU.


After the interesting and fun discussions had ended, people stayed a bit longer to ask follow-up questions and to engage in networking with our experts. We had great fun this evening and hope you enjoyed it too. See you next time!