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December 29, 2008

Best of 2008 in Future Technology – Designing for sustainability

LONDON, England – In April Nokia opened the doors of its new London design studio to us and selected media. It was interesting for any number of reasons, chiefly because it was the first time many of us stepped into a design studio. However, there was a lot more to it. The theme for the day was sustainability and the assembled speakers flew in from all over the world to talk about the work they did. Designing for sustainability is a concept Nokia takes very seriously and that day revealed a sizable chunk of the kind of thinking that’s going on.

Remade is a concept phone which uses no new materials in its production. Upcycling is the idea behind much of it, using old cans, bottles and even car tyres to make a new product. We’ve seen lots of this in periphery marketing material, the pen that used to be a CD case, the notebook that used to be something else.

Sustainability though, isn’t just about thinking green, it can go beyond that. Ryhs Newman explained what the designers are doing to tackle the fact that 20 per cent of the world’s population is illiterate. How can phones be designed as usable for people who can’t read or write as they can for people are able to? I love that kind of thinking, the stuff that goes well beyond the run of the mill and helps to tackle deeper problems than a lot of us would like to admit actually exist.

Most intriguing of all though was the concept of “wears in, not out”. In short, a phone that lasts for 25 years. It evolves, of course, but it’s the components and software which dip into the upgrade bucket, leaving the outer shell to stand the test of time. In April, this seemed like quite a wild and crazy idea. Today, much less so. In fact, it makes me think those Nokia design people are further ahead of the game than we might be inclined to give them credit for.

Ryhs Newman and the design teams at Nokia, we salute you!

Charging without waste

Beyond green

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