and Other Tales from the Real World
Hans Wissner, Product Designer | BW Technologies
Stuart Walker, Professor of Industrial Design Faculty of Environmental Design | University of Calgary
The nature of industrial design requires that the designer weigh the pros and cons of any design concept and/or direction with regards to the problem being addressed. After completing an education that focused on design for sustainability, the coauthor Hans Wissner joined BW Technologies, a company that designs and manufactures hazardous gas detectors. This primarily industrial market segment did not at first inspire a great deal of confidence in the value or even applicability of sustainable product design. After three years with the company the authors, comprising a practicing designer and his former professor of industrial design, wanted to reflect on the experience and see if any relationships could be found between the theoretical ideas and principles of sustainable development and sustainable product design, and the realities of the real world.
This paper will briefly characterize both the emphasis of the ‘sustainable product design’ education and the nature of the industrial environment in which business priorities and user safety are paramount, and where traditional industrial design is little known. Reflecting on these issues, and relating stories, examples, working practices and discrete instances led to a number of important observations and conclusions about the significance and relevance of education in the complex subject of sustainable product design.