16-21 April 2008
Design Week at Milan
Best Up launches the “+LCD -CO2: where are you? campaign”.
Meetings and comparisons with schools and professionals at the Fabbrica del Vapore, via Procaccini 4, Milano
+LCD -CO2 : where are you?
The campaign promotes eco-design through the LCD (Life Cycle Design) method: conscious design based on awareness of the entire life cycle of the product. Design is at the heart of both the problem and the solution: the more we plan and design from a sustainable point of view, the less we damage the environment.
What is LCD (Life Cycle Design)?
LCD is a planning approach which takes into account all the life-cycle phases of a product, and which becomes an integral part of the socio-economic context, taking all the ethical, social and economic factors thus generated into consideration.
The US-EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, defines it thus:
“Life Cycle Design has the main aim of minimizing the environmental impact associated with a product’s life cycle. It represents a tool fro helping with the efficient and responsible integration of environmental requirements within the planning and creation of a product. The fundamental principles are:
- the evaluation of a product’s life cycle, from the purchasing of the raw materials, through production, usage, and end-of-life disposal (re-use, re-cycling, elimination)
- analysis for identification of the environmental, economic, cultural and performance requirements
- The participation of all those involved in business activities and team work throughout each phase of the process.
CO2: reducing environmental pollution is imperative
Between 1970 and 2004 CO2 emissions increased worldwide by 80%: 28% just in the last 20 years. Currently, more than 21 billion tons of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere due to the use of fossil fuels for heating buildings, transporting goods and people, and producing objects, food and materials. In order to achieve the Kyoto Protocol commitments, the industrialized countries have to reduce emissions by 5.2% to 30% - compared to levels stated in 1990 – within 2020. After Germany and Great Britain, Italy is the third largest CO2 producer within the EU. At a meeting in February 2007, experts from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) gave clear notice of the problem by identifying and promoting real objectives for the immediate reduction of emissions. The immediate and wide-spread use of the enormous potential that tools like eco-design and energy saving give us is essential. (from the IPCC 2007 World Resources Institute report)
Where are you?
The question is aimed at designers, students and teachers, production, trade and service companies, local organizations, associations and consumers. Asking “where are you?” doesn’t mean excluding anyone, rather it means repeating that the important thing is to begin, to take social responsibility for our actions and to undertake a commitment to improve. Development towards a sustainable society suggests both process and change: we start, we improve, it is perfectible. The process cannot be sporadic, it requires continuity, an exchange of know-how and experience, identification of models, networks etc. The BEST UP campaign, launched to mark the Salone-Fuorisalone 2008 in Milan, will develop over time to create the “Circuit of sustainable living” which is BEST UP’s original purpose, available both over the Web and in printed yearbook format. Within this circuit, space will be given to those Italian actors and actresses promoting good and useful links with the real world.
The LCD symbol: communicate, compare, and diffuse
Within design schools Best Up is launching a competition to design a symbol for LCD. In times of multi-culturalism, interdisciplinary character and global markets, it is necessary to have ready a simple yet universal language that will make understanding and sharing become easier.
This necessity is felt even more within the larger question of sustainability, where common denominators have to be found so that theories, thoughts and experiences can be communicated to greatest possible number of people worldwide, thus giving the chance to create, compare and evaluate methods and results.
Design at the centre of the question: from problem to solution
Murray Bookchin, one of the great scholars of ecological thought, states that:
“Eco-thinking today is able to supply perhaps the most relevant synthesis of ideas since The Enlightenment. It is capable of opening up perspectives for a (code of) practice that can really change the entire social scenery of our times”.
John Thackara writes: “we have to consider that 80% of the environmental impact due to products and their production is all brought about during the design phase”.
And Alastair Fuad-Luke: “Designers can contribute more to the slowing down of environmental deterioration than any number of economists, politicians, businesses, and even environmentalists”.
Ezio Manzini, expert and organizer of the “Italian Master’s Conference” to be held in Turin in July 2008, says: “Design continues to be so much more part of the problem than the solution, more an accelerator of unsustainable processes than a promoter of new ways of being and doing, that can help people and the community to live better by reducing their ecological mark and renewing the social fabric. Just how aware is Italian design of how things have changed, and what design really is or could become? Italian design started really well, with a cultural and critical vision of how to act that formed the basis of its success. The paradox is that right at the moment when everybody cites design as the saviour of the shaky Italian economy, the very idea of design that is being put forward is a trivial old stereotype, reduced to nothing more than an instrument for turning production into a spectacle, an area not only unsustainable, but probably inefficient in terms of international competitiveness”.
Finally, Enea, the Agency for new Technology, Energy and Environment states: “If used and adapted correctly, the eco-innovation processes can best be matched with that product innovation capability (by means of the ideas and planning capacity) that is particular to the small and medium business sector. Thus they represent a more acceptable way to achieve product innovation, compared to the type of innovation that requires fundamental changes to the technological paradigm.
What’s more, a business infrastructure that is typified in particular by industrial zones and links between companies, with complete production lines available, can easily facilitate this approach according to both the product’s lifecycle, and the involvement of complete business systems whether at area or sector level, and they can thus enjoy the benefits of innovation all down the line”.
Sustainable Made in Italy: to be models; a leadership opportunity
For Italian design, the transformation towards a a sustainable development model should be welcomed as an tremendous opportunity and research times within universities and businesses should be stepped up so that “sustainable planning” becomes an approach shared by all the members of a design system and not just a virtuous afterthought tacked on as a result of some study plan or some isolated company. A new Made in Italy bearing the sustainable stamp could instead bring new importance and identity to our design system, becoming a harbinger of beauty and ethics. Why follow only the luxury markets and painfully attempt to “innovate” the form of the products: voluptuous or spiky, indistinct or oversize? There is really only one possible product approach, that of the Life Cycle Design which should be “taken for granted” and the norm for students, planners, producers, communicators and retailers. Buyers would then have the chance to make an informed choice – equally divided between “beauty” and “wellbeing” – of products with minimum impact. There is already a wealth of important experience available from Italian companies who have for some time been active in this and other areas, certifying materials, production methods and products, but often this information is either hard to understand or simply not displayed, because people still think “no-one is interested”. Communication and the media have a large and important role.
Best Up at the 2008 Show
At the Show, Best Up is promoting the “+LCD -CO2: where are you?” campaign through the bestup.it site, newspapers and an initiative under way at the Fabbrica del Vapore in Via Procaccini 4, sponsored by the Milan City Council and co-ordinated through the Sapienza University of Rome. A space for exchange, advice, videos and consultable material aimed mainly at the current Italian design schools that Best Up has so far come across. Invitations have been sent to Universities and design departments, including Camerino, Napoli, Palermo, IUAV of Venezia, the Politecnico of Milano and of Torino, IED, Scuola Politecnica of Milano, Accademia di Brera, Naba, Domus Academy, Isia of Firenze and other Institutes. These schools will have the opportunity to demonstrate both in paper and audiovisual format their results and programs pertaining to sustainability. There will be meetings between students, designers and teaching staff, businesses, ordinary people and experts from the various research sectors on the subject of sustainable production.
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