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Design competencies for a circular economy

Sumter, Deborah; de Koning, Jotte; Bakker, Conny; Balkenende, Ruud

Limited research has been done on design competencies for a circular economy in practice. Yet, an overview of design competencies for a circular economy would be useful to understand which topics should be emphasized in both education and practice. This paper focuses on deriving circular economy competencies for product designers working in industry. The study consisted of three focus groups with twelve designers that are actively exploring circular economy opportunities in an industrial product design context. We derived six design competencies for a circular economy: (1) circular economy understanding, (2) circular economy storytelling (3) setting circular criteria, (4) assessing circular solutions, (5) connecting reverse logistics with users, and (6) design for multiple use cycles. These six competencies are presented and reflected upon by comparing them to competencies found in literature. Two of the competencies found (i.e., circular economy understanding and storytelling) are new compared to those mentioned in literature. The other four competencies found in this study overlap or further specify competencies mentioned in literature. Ultimately, the relevancy of each of the six competencies for an individual designer is determined by the role this designer has in a company.
Published in: PLATE – Product lifetimes and the environment : 3rd PLATE Conference, September 18–20, 2019 Berlin, Germany, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin
Published by ISBN 978-3-7983-3125-9