Recently, a handful of the 2017 Innovation by Design Award Recipients and Honorees working with technology, branding, experience design, architecture, urbanism, and product design were asked about what ideas would impact the industry most in the coming years. Some of their answers were surprising. Others were quite enlightening and reflect the idea that the future of design can bring about good as long as we keep ethics in mind. Here are some the highlights from the conversation:
- Designers Will Interrupt the Cycle of Capitalism. Florian Idenburg is a Dutch architect and co-founder of the award-winning architectural design firm SO-IL in New York City. The industry of design demands a more fast-paced production process, but Florian believes that building things to last is crucial even though it’s less lucrative. Ultimately, he believes that “our efforts as designers should be to create things that are meaningful for larger audiences rather than perks for a smaller audience.”
- Designers Will Become Activists. Asta Roseway is a fusionist at Microsoft and co-creator and designer of the DuoSkin tattoo wearable device. She believes that design can inspire change, especially at the global level. She encourages all designers “to take more proactive steps to redefine their roles beyond design to that of conscious and ethical decision makers.” Ultimately, she believes that “design can highlight sustainable solutions, fight systematic biases, and inspire thoughtful urban planning, among countless other applications.”
- Ethics Are No Longer Afterthoughts. Sheryl Cababa, a UX Design Director, believes that “we need to develop methods that allow us to think past the opposable digits of end users, to how our everyday interaction design decisions affect millions of people.” Cababa feels that the onslaught of fake news, screen addictions, and online abuse, is a direct result of designers’ limited design decisions which were only focused on how well they kept eyeballs and thumbs on tiny screens. She thinks that it’s time for designers to “get a new yardstick.”
Every year, a study compiled by the Reputation Institute (RI), a Boston-based reputation management consulting firm, is released to reveal which companies are believed by customers to be the most socially responsible. These ratings are based on their consumers’ perceptions of company governance, positive influence on society, and treatment of employees. Out of 170,000 company ratings from respondents in 15 countries, here are the top 10 brands that are leading the way and shifting positive impact into a higher gear:
- Walt Disney
- BMW Group
- Robert Bosch
- Cisco Systems
- Rolls-Royce Aerospace
- Colgate Palmolive
What do you think of those brands who made the cut? This analysis brings promising news to those seeking out more socially responsible brands. Doing the research to uncover what happens behind the scenes of some of our most beloved brands is an important step in sharing knowledge and awareness with the world.
Who didn’t make it to the top 10 this time?
Apple, Samsung, and VW.
Better luck next year!
The thought of equating public health to the well being of our planet seems far-fetched at first, but if you think about it, the environmental problems we face today measure equally with the health problems we experience. Just as the body alerts us through stuffy noses or aching joints, so does the earth through global warming, acidic oceans, or runoff fertilizer which contributes to hundreds of “dead zones” (this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone is twice the size of the Chesapeake Bay) along the coasts.
70 billion people inhabit this planet and 70 billion people depend on it for survival. The disappearances of many species and unsafe water conditions are a direct threat to human health. Hurting the planet literally hurts ourselves and our future generations.
So what is planetary health, anyway?
Simply put, it is a new approach to health research and health policy. It means that the human race cannot thrive and evolve while we continue to deplete and disrespect the very ecological life support systems that nurture us. A planetary health mindset rejects the notion of people versus planet because we are all in this together.
The exciting news is that this movement is becoming more popular. Many colleges are catching on to planetary health and even offering courses on it.
A planetary health approach introduces health science to other fields. This marrying of ideologies can produce innovative public service infrastructure upgrades that serve both the health of people and the planet they live on. For example, transportation systems that promote walking and biking both enhance physical health and lower CO2 emissions. Green building designs that reduce energy by maximizing daylight and optimizing indoor air quality provide benefits to environmental sustainability and our health.
We have reached a critical point in human civilization where the daily decisions we make are going to either promote a better, healthier world or destroy it.
Now it’s time for policymakers to think big and connect our human health with the well being of the planet too.
Organic is everywhere. Beyond just the produce aisle, a certified organic sign can be spotted on many mainstream packages, too (there are even organic Doritos now.) The USDA Certified Organic label has served as a useful guide to avoiding pesticide and synthetic ridden foods. However, when bad actors like Monsanto and Bayer claim to be “sustainable” and “climate-smart,” those terms begin to lose all meaning. While certified organic is better than the GMO and chemical-heavy agriculture, is it time for an Organic 2.0?
It looks like there could be a new label on its way that transcends organic and introduces the concept of certified “regenerative.” Recently, the Rodale Institute showcased proposed standards for a new Regenerative Organic Certification developed by Rodale and a coalition of farmers, ranchers, nonprofits, scientists, and brands.
What does Certified Regenerative mean exactly?
Certified regenerative goes beyond organic and refers to higher standards for soil health, land management, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness.
This venture is about making organic more climate-friendly, eco-aware, and humane.
Certified Regenerative could become a major upgrade for a more sustainable shopping list. Organic regenerative agriculture plays a pivotal role in reversing global warming and increasing the resiliency of the crops by restoring soil health and biodiversity.
Not only is this move far better for the health of our bodies but also to the greater good of our environment.
More than ever, social mindedness is at the forefront of investors’ minds. As of June 30, assets invested in environmental, social, and governance strategies topped $164 billion. The massive shift in mindset to include more objective goals around better long-term investments is excellent news and deems hopeful down the road to greater ESG focus.
ESG Facts at a Glance:
- Since the end of 2015, assets have grown nearly 20%.
- Since 2012, assets have increased by 60%.
- The number of available funds has decreased from 324 in the year of 2015, to around 300 total funds.
- The ESG-screened S&P 500 index has performed in line with the base S&P 500 index since its inception in March of 2009 but has lagged over the trailing three and five year periods through August.
Photo by Oliver Wendel